A Tea Addict's Journal


August 17, 2020 · 6 Comments

Since there’s no travel or anything of that sort in the pandemic, tea buying has to go online (well for those of us who used to do it in person anyway). One thing I’ve done recently is try about a dozen different 7542s from 10+ years ago. These are all from about 2006-2010. The advantage of this is that none of them are too expensive – the most expensive one is still under 1000 RMB, which, for a 10+ year tea, isn’t so bad. The cheapest is around 300 RMB, which at $50 is a lot cheaper than even a lot of newer teas. All of them I bought off Taobao. Retail is usually not much above wholesale prices, which you can get a rough check on with sites like Donghe. They even have an English version of the site.

The prices are reasonable because there just aren’t a lot of buyers. Some years ago I was musing about how in ten or twelve years, there will be a lot of people sitting on a lot of aged tea and they are going to let them go at prices that weren’t too far away from what they paid. The supply is too large and demand relatively small for these teas to rise astronomically like the stuff from the 1990s. If you are an “investor” and looking for capital gains on your tea, you buy those special production stuff from Dayi instead of 7542s. If you’re a drinker, you’re probably not storing 7542s en masse. There were a lot of these made, and the volume drinkers (restaurants, etc) aren’t using Dayi anymore in their teapots.

Storage for these tea is paramount – if you go on Taobao and you buy the same production from Kunming, the taste is a lot younger than some guy selling it from Guangdong. Location is no guarantee – a seller in Guangdong could’ve bought his lot from some guy in Kunming, or Beijing, or whatever. So finding the right guy with the right storage at the right price takes a bit of guesswork and luck, but once you find it, it’s worth it.

What’s the result of my tastings? Well… they’re all pretty decent. 7542s, from batch to batch, could have fairly obvious differences, although these differences are more obvious the more experienced you are drinking pu. One of the teas I bought, from 2007, has a distinct fruity taste up front, while another one costing double does not, but is instead stronger and lasts longer in the cup. Is the more expensive one a better tea? Yes, certainly. Is it worth the extra price? That’s much harder to say. It probably depends on how much those $50 is worth to you.

There is also the risk of buying fakes, that’s unavoidable when dealing with Dayi or any of the major factories. You could try to get yourself a black light and play with the labels, you could do comparisons, but at the end of the day, once you’ve had enough 7542s, you can tell the basic 7542 taste almost immediately – fakers don’t normally use decent tea, otherwise they can’t make money (they’re better off selling it as “ancient tree single village tea” or some such). There was a point in time when fake teas could be as good as real ones, but not in the 2006-2010 timeframe (or later).

Categories: Teas
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6 responses so far ↓

  • Stephane // August 18, 2020 at 1:03 am | Reply

    Fully agree on storage!
    BTW, do you feel a big difference in the 10 years old 7542 you are drinking now and the 10 years old 7542 you were drinking 10 to 15 years ago? Or, to rephrase my question how close are the 2006-2010 7542s to the Menghai/Dayi 7542 from 1995-2000?

    • MarshalN // August 19, 2020 at 3:47 am | Reply

      Good question. Short answer is nobody actually knows. 15 years ago, if you wanted 15 years old dry stored 7542, your only option was 88 Qing (or, 93 Qing claiming to be 88 Qing). That’s not exactly a wide variety of teas to try, or storage conditions. Most “drier” stored teas back then still went through some traditional storage. Now if you want a 7542 from, say, 2007-2010, there are literally dozens of productions for you to try, not to mention the wide variety of storage conditions. So…. not remotely comparable.

      1995-2000 was a particularly chaotic time and the teas coming out were of greatly varying quality, as far as I was able to tell. Some were good, others were garbage, with lots of fakes. There’s a reason there aren’t any real “standout” 7542s from that era that are on the market – the ones that do show up as that tend to be of very iffy quality.

  • MattCha // August 18, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Reply


    Thank you for elaborating on the 7542 from these years following the comments here:


    Still very overlooked in the West as not much profit can be made by offering them.


  • Jk // August 26, 2020 at 10:51 am | Reply

    Never thought of buying tea from Taobao..!

  • Matt // October 4, 2020 at 9:07 pm | Reply

    Any experience on how these teas taste compared to 2010-2020 7542? I had a 2018 and was surprised at how light/floral it was when fresh. Made me worry that they are weakening the recipe.

    • MarshalN // January 28, 2021 at 9:01 pm | Reply

      It depends – I think the recipes have weakened a bit, but exactly how much is hard to say as production methods have changed a bit, and also volumes are way higher than they used to be.

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