A lot of people do think over something, not realizing they have already decided. Then they have a sudden revelation - that leads to countless "I'm gay" confessions on Facebook, however, it is not my case.
The big confession is - I don't like young puerh (younger than three years).
I was genuinely looking forward to ordering samples of most of available 2012 puerh cakes, writing about it, comparing my notes to other bloggers and all that - I sort of missed that in 2010 and 2011. Then, in the middle of doing that, I thought "what the hell am I doing here"?
I guess it happened after I finished up the samples of pu-erh.sk. There were many very happy posts about them on other blogs and I did like the teas actually, but it was "like" as when you look over your shoulder on a good butt of a girl you don't know - it's pleasant for a while, but it's not deep or anything. Then I looked over my notes, even the unpublished ones and the only thing which tasted&felt really interesting to me from 2010+ (not counting things harvested earlier and pressed after 2010) was the Yunnan Sourcing's Yibang of 2010 and HLH's Yiwu Chawang. Maybe Longfeng's 2010 green and purple, maybe.
Not that the 2010+ teas would be bad, not at all, but they don't resonate that deeply to me. And then there is the issue of price.
I guess that it used to be quite helpful to understand young puerh as it was cheaper than older puerh and one could tell what to buy and drink after ten years. But that's absolutely not the way it is now, almost on the contrary - young puerh is awfully expensive.
Why should I drink young puerh then if not for the low price?
Young fancy gushu puerh has often good qi, even though the taste is generally not as interesting. I was recently drinking some green teas and wulongs (after the gallons of puerh, almost any other non-heicha, non-yancha genre feels flatter and hollower than puerh, why?) and I clearly felt the difference between these "qi-quiet" teas and young puerh - but then I have a completely run of the mill 90s tea and feel much better than after the young pu.
The qi of young gushu teas is somehow not welcoming to me, too cold or aggressive. Maybe it's a matter of getting used to. It gets better with tea stove water which tames such teas down. And I find young Yiwu tea a lot more drinkable than these Bulangs, Mannuos, Badas and all that. Young Yiwu is generally ok with me, although I prefer it to have some years of age too. But older tea (if normally stored, pre-2003) is a lot warmer and kinder to me. Not only it does not do bad to my stomach (young pu does if I drink too much), but it feels much warmer, friendlier and "more welcoming" to me.
Therefore, I won't drink young pu for its qi.
Then there is the matter of cooling and tingling feeling in mouth which young gushu teas do have and taidi generally do not. How about the older teas? Teas from 70s and 80s generally have a similar feeling, even though they probably are not from gushu. Even the 90s muddy pieces from thechineseteashop do have similar feeling (dry stored teas not always + their bitterness sometimes kills the good mouthfeel). In the beginning of 2nd millenium, some teas do have this cooling quality and some do not. But there are not many which would be really good tasting, yet without the good feeling in mouth (there are some, sure).
I could drink young pu for its intense mouthfeel, but there is a lot of 2000+-3 teas and earlier that have good enough quality of similar sort. And lightly aged gushu (Shikunmu's come to my mind) are more awesome than good young gushu.
Then there is the matter of taste and complexity. I think that the young pu loses here big time to teas of 1995-2003: partly because of frequently high bitterness and astringency, partly because the taste components are not yet developed. The good thing about young pu is that it is increasingly place-specific - that is good for analysis. On the other hand, I'm not convinced that it is equally good for drinking, and/or aging (neither is, e.g., master Shi Kun Mu).
Things get different when one gets into early 90s or time before that - the great variety of tastes that puerh may acquire in 10 or so years of aging starts to narrow down again, towards "aged" tastes. There are differences, clearly - the Qing Bing tastes a lot better than, e.g., 90s Keyixing brick. But the difference in taste hardly justifies the difference in price. The feeling is what matters there.
Thus, I won't drink young pu for its taste as I think it gets largely beaten by cca 10 years old teas and is not beaten by aged tea in taste, but is by its qi and overall feeling.
I'm afraid I fail to recognize any major positives of young pu... Maybe it's more consistent - aging puerh may get good and it may get wrong - young puerh is yet unchanged... That is an advantage as well as a disadvantage though. If you find a good slightly aged tea, it should not change that hugely - basically what you get is what you bought. But with young puerh, you buy something and it may go horribly wrong - because of not that great material, bad storage or anything. So the element of uncertainity is present in young and in old tea.
I guess that this is the end of my confession... Rather depressive, is it not? My young pu posts usually receive the most hits so it is probably what people are interested in when they come here. I don't say I won't drink any young puerh - I will. But if I'm not that extatic about something, you may just run it through the "he's-not-the-young-pu-man" filter.
Why do you, dear readers like young puerh (if you do, of course) over aged one? A lot of blogs focuses on young puerh so there must be something about it.