CNNP raw Sheng Pu-erh blend 7542 Red Label, 1996, Menghai Tea factory
Plantation Taidi Maocha material Surface covered by very even and tippy tea
Dry stored in Taizhou, East China by CNNP distributor
Weight of cake roughly 330 g.
10 g loosened from the edge, mature leaves and some golden tips
220 ml high fired Duanni, Yixing
98 degree Celsius
1 to 6th short 5 seconds infusion
7th to 12th increasing to 20 seconds
used leaves for one 800 ml cooked infusion
Recently it became cold in Hangzhou, the high humidity let us perceive 3 degree above zero quite different as 3 degree in "dry" Munich. The humidity does good, too, especially when it comes to aging of raw Sheng Pu-erh tea. Another crucial point of successful aged raw Sheng Pu-erh is the material. When it comes to a dry stored 7542, Red Label of Menghai tea factory of 1996, both aspects matched perfectly.
The opening procedure of a whole "new" aged cake creates an electrifying atmosphere at the table, where this time Luige and me are accompanied by seven ladies including Ms. Shu of CNNP Zhong Cha, Zhejiang. After carefully unwrapping, surface and Nei Fei inspection, voices faded down, when the Pu-erh pin loosened fragile tips and mature leaves compressed together during the last 18 years. While the cooked water was poured into a high fired Duanni Yixing pot to warm it up, the famous 7542 blend was rather respectful passed around, in an inner excitement of tasting the first pouring. I asked what's behind the Red Label, because Blend No. 7542 describes the product and learned that even so 7542 categorizes, still a difference in taste between the Yellow, Red or Green Mark 7542 blends of 1996 exists. Blends from the 80's and 90's are very unstable when it comes to comparability of same marked blends over different years.
The rinse to wash and awaken the tea fill the air with floral and slightly forest fragrances while the soup colour is already mature orange tones. Since we are nine thirsty aspirants, each tasting round consists of two pouring and not longer than 10 seconds each rinse. My first several cups let experience two dominating tastes, a fruity one, direction raspberry and a gentle rather complex tone of not fully faded bitterness and sweet camphor after taste.
The quite stable sensation and rich mouth feelings lasts and after the fourth round some nutty honey hints can be recognized as well as a bit earthy, less camphor after taste. In the end we cooked the leaves, extracting a soup where drupe hints could be perceived and our today's tasting circles moves on through a chilly and humid rich night.
It's always something special, when tasting a mature 7542 and every time I look forward to taste that specific cake a year later or so and compare my notes and perceptions. This cake, even so it celebrated its 18th "birthday" got still plenty of bitterness to convert to fulfilling sensations over the time of further ageing.