Another piece from finepuer. 1990s Dayi tea is generally not cheap (true here) and I wonder what it would be like. Assured by finepuer´s "absolutely wonderful", I included it among other samples I bought.
I wonder if it is the same as the tuocha that Hobbes describes here, I guess it is possible, though the storage may be quite different.
The leaves look a bit lighter than I expected from a 1998 tea, but that is probably the dry storage.
The degree of compression is rather high and as a result, the degree of aroma of dry leaves is rather low.
Wet leaves do smell and they smell fairly nice, there's a rather uncommon mahagony woodiness. There is also a reasonable sweetness, a bit of grain and overripe fruit, a sourish one - often found in too drily stored tea ("too" for me, some people like it).
The liquor smells sweet woody with a bit of camphor. It is actually beautifully clean, even though it is not really that obvious from the photo below.
The first steeping is quite bland, but that's probably just the compressed leaves unfolding.
The second steeping has always disappointed me. There is the reasonable combination of things from the aroma, but it is overriden by a dry bitterness. The taste of hemp which comes shortly after that does not help either. There is a nasty sharp sourness sometimes, coming from the dry storage I guess.
Now, the wet leaves give up their original sweetness and emit a complex aroma of various woods - it is interesting, but it does not really scream "will taste awesome".
In the third and fourth steeping, the bitterness is not as bad, but high astringency prevents much enjoyment anyway. The sharp sourness from dry storage is there too and the more I taste it in teas, the more I dislike it.
Sometimes, people say that dry storage keeps a tea's complexity. I do not know about that, I'd say that when you interpret this the wrong way, i.e., confusing dry storage with western super-dry storage, the teas have a tendency to die off, lose complexity and became sour, rather than to retain their complexity.
I pushed the tea further hoping there would be something good about it - it was not really pushed for enjoyment. Surprisingly, there actually was something good - the taste of fresh plums (known from 7542s) in the longer-term aftertaste did appear. Not overly powerful, but there.
Anyway, this single positive does not, in my opinion, redeem this tea. Combine the not-too-terrific taste with virtually no mouthfeel and no qi (I could not feel any, at least) and you get a mediocre tea.
Even though the tea is quite expensive (almost $200 per 400g), I can not get rid of the impression that the tuocha comes from a low quality material and was way too dry stored for its good, but as it is Dayi and 1998, the price is high.
However, the tea may be ok for people who like very dry stored tea I guess...