Few months ago, I made two similarly priced orders. The difference is that one contained about 5kg of tea, while the other one only 100g. Yes, you have guessed it, the smaller one came from Essence of tea. After drinking a lot of young puerh and a lottish of older puerh (8-10 years), while trying only very few aged pieces, I thought that the time has come.
I wrote about most of the teas I tried here (not writing only about Menghai 93 7542, of which I still keep a second dose as I'll try 7542 from 96 soon and I want to try them soon after each other), but it gave me much more than sum of these teas and that is why I write the whole experience here.
Before I placed the order, based only on few previously tasted samples, I felt that dry stored sheng, wet stored sheng and shu are quite similar in taste. After trying two or three samples from EoT, I still could not feel the difference too clearly. However, after the circa 15 tastings of aged tea, I feel that the difference is large and I do not understand how I could not feel the difference it earlier.
Although I feel I have learned a lot this way, it's just a beginning (however, aged tea is not only rather expensive, but also simply difficult to obtain, so the journey will be long). As our great professor of computability theory often mentions, things are different depending on the desired granularity of your view. If one tries 10-20 young puerhs, it may give him some insight into young puerh (e.g., so that he tells apart sheng from shu and wulongs). However, he still won't be able to tell where a tea does come from. If he drinks 10-20 puerhs from Yiwu, there is a good chance that he will be, in future, able to tell if a tea does come from Yiwu or not. If we choose even finer granularity, it won't be too helpful if one wants to tell apart different villages from each other.
Thus, although I enjoyed the samples from EoT and I learned a lot, there is an awfully long way to go anyway.
The second implication of the thought on trying teas is that there exists a minimum amount of tea from which one learns something at a given level of granularity. Some people say that instead of buying and tasting a lot of inferior teas, it is better to buy one aged piece and concentrate on it. I am not sure I entirely agree. If I bought only one aged tea or only a few samples, I do not think it would give me much. In retrospective, I feel it was a good idea to buy samples of more teas and amounts sufficient at least for two tastings (except the 3+ pounds per gram pieces where I bought only for one tasting).
Not only that the tastings of aged tea gave me at least a bit of insight into aged puerh, it actually gave me some insight into mid-aged and younger puerh. Now I can better say how a mid-aged tea ages and where it may go in future, I better feel hints of aged tones in mid-aged tea (to make things clear, I use mid-aged here as +- 10 years of age).
So, was everything oojah-cum-spiff with the order from EoT? Yes, pretty much so! One could say that the teas are expensive, but
a) they could be much more expensive if Nada chose to pursue the "I am so big boss boutique" attitude. Some people in his place would probably use that they are one of very few vendors selling aged tea, saying that every of their pieces is a total rarity, undistinguishable from the red/blue mark; everything has got a great storage; recommended by 9/10 of 120 years old tea masters; is extremely rich, blahblahblahblah,.... I really admire that Nada keeps his website decent, informative and modest.
b) It gave me a lot of knowledge and feelings so I always felt content. And, as Matt Molloy and Sean Keane would probably agree, contentment is wealth.
So, big thanks to Essence of tea, I'm looking forward to my next order!