Sampletea has, among other puerh e-shops, exceptionally rich spectrum of Menghai teas from early 2000s. Not all of them are stored exactly to my taste, but even these give one an idea. However, there are several really good teas and one gem - indeed, this Apple green 7542. It is not priced higher than the rest, but for me, the combination of good material and good storage really makes it shine - I'd call this tea a very good reference cake for the 7542 recipe, having the good of 7542s, but without faults that some of these have.
The dry leaves contain some huangpian and "tea balls" (e.g., at the left of the botom photo - any idea what is it?), the amount of tips is quite decent - not too much to make the tea sour.
The aroma of dry warmed up leaves in a teapot is sweet-earthy, but when the leaves are rinsed, things get a lot more interesting. The aroma is very complex indeed, it's earthy (not like wet stored earthy, just clean, aged earthiness), sweet (my notes say "narrower than in Yiwu"), fruity (overripe garden fruit, dried longan, powidl). The aroma is clean, harmonic, balanced and pretty much faultless, in my opinion. It is basically between young and aged tea, but rather having the worse of both (which some teas do), it has the better of both.
(this is actually one of darker steepings)
In mouth, the tea is perhaps not as bombastic and explosive as some other teas from this period, but it is extraordinaly pleasant. It starts with earthiness and powidl, after which dried longan and some wood take place, developing into spice and aged nuts. Overall, it is complex and all components are working very well together - that's what I appreciate about this tea. It is multidimensional without being disharmonic or faulty. It is just right in thickness and sweetness, very rounded.
The first wave of taste is not that long, but the tea just comes back again and again - in the end, it has quite a long taste.
There is some light dry bitterness, but very smooth and almost pleasant. Astringency is virtually none.
The activity in mouth is good, as is decently strong qi (no powerhouse though) - but these components are not the point, just as the taste. I can not pinpoint any aspect where this tea would be great - but because it is very good in pretty much anything and it all works together, it is a lot more than mere of its parts.
With price likely above $400 per cake, this is not exactly in a bargain corner... but the sample was definitely worth it and I'll likely buy more in the future. Of course, there probably is some Menghai TF overcharge, but among other Menghai TF's teas from this time, this one offers very good performance for the money - highly recommended.