pondělí 15. října 2012

2001 and 2004 Menghai 7542

One does hear a lot how the big factory cakes are overpriced because of their investment value. In some cases, it true. Nevertheless, they still offer increased reliability and are often very good. 7542 is one of the recipes I like and so I wondered how 2001 and 2004 would be. The 2001 is a not-that-cheap tea (I guess it's something like $270), while the 2004 is priced quite allright ($75). One hears a lot how the quality of Menghai production went down from 2004 onward so I hoped I'd taste the "good 2001" and then see how down went the "bad 2004". 

A good intention, maybe, but entirely thwarted (a lovely word, is it not?) by storage conditions of these teas.

2001 7542:

This tea needs a while to get to get going. The first steepings are not that pleasant as the taste is a bit thin and a having that sharp acidity of too dry storage. It makes me feel like:

Lukily, the dry storage taste sort of goes away around 5th or so steeping and the tea is ok since that. Still, it is not as full as I'd like it. The taste in the first steepings stays at the bottom of the mouth only - tongue and a bit around - I do not feel my whole oral cavity coated in taste as I like it. 

The actual taste is fine, woody with a bit of darker fruit, a bit of camphor and a bit of honey (which is most notable in the aroma of the wet cup). Once the dry storage sourness/acidity goes away, there is a bit of pleasant agedness, but it is only light. 

Activity on the tongue is fine, but not spectacular and qi is light and "tired". The rather high bitterness and moderate astringency do not help to make this tea more accessible either. The long-term aftertaste is good though, that's what I like about 7542s the best I think and it is here.

In my opinion, this tea was really damaged (reversibly) by its dry storage. However a) Alan of Finepuer told me that such a storage is much sought after there (why?!), which leads to much higher price than of the 2004 version, b) this 2001 version is now stored in the same condition as the 2004 version and so, after few years, it might actually get pretty good.

2004 7542

Since the first steeping, it is obvious that things will be different and better here (for me, at least). This version of 7542 takes what was good in the 2001 version, builds on it and throws the bad features away. The storage was more normal (Alan of Finepuer says 60-80% of relative humidity which is what I consider to be a safe range for aging).

The aroma and taste are both stronger and without any hint of dry sourness. This version is obviously similar sort of material as the 2001 (not surprising, given that both are 7542s, I know), but is much fuller (whole mouth coated), sweeter, fruitier (the fruitiest 7542 I have yet met) - in the pleasant dark-fruity way, spicy (in a positive way) and the whole feeling is very good. It is complex in taste and aroma, it actually feels quite luxurious, yet strong. And the aftertaste works better than in the 2001 too.

The activity on the tongue is quite good, especially given that this is a factory production (actually, given that, the mouthfeel is excellent) and lasts over many steepings. Also, I was surprised by frankly lovely qi of this tea. When we first drank it with my friend Michal here, he said it made him shake - I felt similar - calmed down by the tea, yet shaking and "feeling myself" a lot. 

Also, both bitterness and astringency are a lot lower than in the 2001.

Although the liquors are very similar in color, one can see that the 2004 version (to the left) has a bit greener leaves than the 2001 version (to the right):

After being left overnight, the 2004 smells dominantly fruity; the 2001 smells pleasantly of agedness. Had that agedness been present in the taste in a more pronounced way, things could have been much better with the 2001. This way, I clearly prefer the (almost 4 times  cheaper) 2004 version.

My quest for "badness in 2004 7542" was in vain then as I could hardly feel anything bad in the tea. I guess I need to wait for worse batch coming from that year.

8 komentářů:

  1. Friend Michal agrees with description of teas and puts his thumb up for Luke photo :) Michal also wants 2004 7542 in his collection :)

  2. Hello,

    I don't know if I got the same 7542 2004 batch 425 with yours. I ordered 1 cake and 2 samples of it from Alan of sampletea, and unfortunately, it was a fake.

    It was not quite obvious when I first looked and try it alone as I am not much an experienced drinker but I went to my puerh expert friend and showed it to him. He took a glance on the wrapper, opened it saw the leaves and smelled it and confirmed it was a fake.

    To make me wholeheartedly believed, he took his real, untouched 2004 7542 out and let me compared to Alan's 7542. What I noticed are the different wrapping style, different size of leaves, the leaves' color and the most importantly the 7542 smell. Alan's 7542 2004 leaves color is much older than my friend's and has nearly no Menghai smell. As we live in Thailand, the weather condition should not be that different from Malaysia. And when I drink them, my friend's 7542 is much better - more flavor, sweeter, and clearly has the 7542 taste, while Alan's 7542 tastes just bland.

    My bad experience with sampletea is not end here. I also bought 2 sample of 1996 7532 from Alan. And guess what, It completely was a fake. You can notice that its fake easily by just looking at the wet leaves. It is MIXED of the SHENG AND SHU! And the taste is nothing but ripe puerh.

    I also ordered some other puerhs from finepuer/sampletea with these fake teas. It is a shame that more than a half of them are fakes or low quality. I wrote a long email complaint his tea and you know what?

    He refunded all of my money (~$150) back without requesting these fake teas back. If these were real aged puerhs, would you guys refunded me all the money for free? Don't get me wrong, I was very happy with his solution but it also made me confident that his teas are fakes.

  3. Hello Bankung,
    regarding the 7542, there were, as far as I know, several different batches and since Menghai TF went private, the consistency deteriorated to an extent. The 2004 7542 I had was not really far from the cluster of other 7542s I drank - different storage conditions can change a tea a lot, so I'd say that after 8 years of storage, it is difficult to say confidently that two differently stored teas are the same/are not.

    Above all, I enjoyed the 2004 a lot - I do not care that much whether it was produced by Menghai TF or Santa's elves... It's strange with the blandness you mention - I have heard the same from one person, while another (and me and a local teachum) had very good pieces. I wonder if there is inter-tong inconsistency or what.

    I do agree on the 7532 though - I agree it tastes a lot like shu and looking at the leaves, it's a mix indeed.

    Some of Sampletea/Finepuer teas are not too great indeed. On the other hand, I'm yet to find a puerh eshop which could be labelled as "everything here is good". What I liked about Finepuer/Sampletea was that there were several teas that I found to be very good.

    I would not judge the refund too hardly - Alan seems to be a very nice person and it seems perfectly possible to me that he just did not want to cause you any trouble. I would certainly not use the fact against him.

    Thanks for stopping by,

  4. Hi Jakub,

    I see that you have some good experience with finepuer/sampletea and I understand you very well as I was a happy customer before.

    I would not care at all that his 7542 came from which factory if the price is not $75. You can buy a fake 7542 like this in China for less than $10. And especially for the fake 7532, which he commanded ~$450 a cake, it must be considered by us as a fraud. Real 7532 must consisted only sheng and as I just know, the price for huangyin 1996 is now much more than $450 anywhere n the world.

    Just imagine someone around the world who have less experience and want to try some old puerh and stopping by his website, buying some fake 7532,7542 samples and drink it without knowing they are fake as they have never try real ones before. Please just smell and look at your 7542 from Alan compare to any real 7542 of any age and tell me if you notice some differences?

    It may be a bit hard for you to imagine what is going on in China/Asia if you have never live/been here. Please know the fact that the fake 7542,7532 of these ages are so many, many times more in number, compare to real ones. And a lot of people selling it knowing or not it is a fake.

    One reason that I bought the 7542 cake is that its quite cheap. I should have known that a promising deal in puerh world is not existed. After checking prices from many sources, I dare to say that you couldn't find any real 7542 year 2004 for $75 in China now. And if Alan could sell more than $75 a cake, why would he painstaking sells samples waiting people to mail him and ask for a whole cake? He could just sell them all to the happy Chinese customer who would be more than happy to buy them for more than $100 a cake.

    I also have a bad experience with YS that I want to share. His 7432 year 2003 which cost almost $200 a cake is also a fake. The alarm bell should ring just looking at the wrapper at the back. No any Menghai cake in that year are wrapped like that. The taste is very bitter and have a lot of astringency but have nearly no sweet aftertaste or any complexity of good Menghai tea.

    To tell you the truth, me too, first thought that Alan's 7542 was real as the wrapper looks very good and the tea tastes ok - no any smoke, bitter and astringency - good sign. However, if you compare the whole cake to the real one, you should see the differences. The leaves grade is different. The fake includes a lot of stems and larger leaves where the real consist mostly of 4th grade leaves. And as you drink it compare with the real 7542 of different ages, you should notice that Alan's 7542 has a different character from what 7542 should be.

    I agree that Alan is very nice e-mailing to me and seems to be a very nice person. However, his tea are fakes and I wonder if it is not my whole page complaint about his tea and some threats in it, would I got my money back? And I wonder even more that how many people would just buying fakes from him and do nothing but stop buying from him or even worse that one can't distinguish a fake from real and buying from him again thinking that one got a bargain.

    I go one real puerh from Alan though. a 2011 jin dayi, and guess what? His price for this cake is not cheap at all compare to the market price.

  5. Woah, good thing I was wandering through some old posts...


    Sampletea has some of the least problems with fake teas. I think this, and I've heard from others who think this as well. Moreover, the 425 7542 isn't actually a fake. It's a special production commissioned by someone else with leaves and recipes provided. It's not actually a true Menghai Dayi product, or by someone famous like the Ho Brothers, FT, or XY. That's why it's cheap, relatively speaking. There are others like this as well, going from more famous blends like the 80's Purple Sky 8582, to all the XY and FT (Jin and Yin '03, for example) cakes of the late nineties and early 2ks, and to less famous cakes like the 7542 208.

    Next, some of Sampletea's deals really were honestly totally deals. When they first started, they had the 2001 HeShiHua Jingmai for a ridiculously cheap $160. Now, I don't see anything like that there anymore, and it's pretty obvious today when something is cheaper than it should be, like the '99 Changtai Yiwu, that there is something wrong with it.

    It is interesting about the 1996 7532, but if you want to convince someone else, you really need to send pics. I have had the '96 7532 and the little yellow mark CNNP copy from Essence of Tea, and it wouldn't surprise me that someone thought it was part shu. I think there are very few genuinely dry stored mid-90s cake like the Orange in Orange, and this tea does seem to get tamped down with any wetness.

  6. I swear this 1996 7532 is a mix of sheng and shu and indeed is a fake. So sorry that I have only a sample and thrown it away a long time ago after got the full refund from Alan.

    Jakub also agreed on this 7532 matter but he still supported sampletea knowing this.

    I just don't understand that why one could tolerate fake tea sold by any seller esp its a sample which the seller must know if the tea is real just by tasting it.


    1. I do not really tolerate fake tea, unless it is good. My support of Sampletea is "they also have a lot of good stuff".

      Basically all vendors carry good stuff and bad stuff - and whether a tea is crap or fake crap is not critically different to me... Fakes are actually better in the aspect that one can more easily refunded for them...

      Still, I'm against fake tea, no doubt about that.

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