Zhou Yu: We were told that these were all teas from previous reviews, dating between the years of 1992 and 2000. The great difference in their years often made it difficult to compare them. For me, the most important standard is always Qi. I also focus on whether or not the tea can be stored for a long period of time. With Puerh, most people look for a flavor that expands as it enters the mouth, permeating and coating the tongue, upper palate and especially the throat. A certain amount of bitter astringency is expected in younger Puerh teas such as these, but if it can transform smoothly, changing into other flavors like sweetness, then the value of the tea will increase. This kind of hui gan from bitterness is precious in a younger Puerh tea. If a tea of this age is already dull and weak, lacking liveliness or energy, this is usually equated to a problem during processing or storage and the tea will be ranked lower. I always look for tea taken from old tea trees and processed in the traditional way. Ancient tea trees produce a tea that will be light, yet rich and deep. Its Qi will come on slowly, increasing over the course of the sessions and ultimately resulting in a deep sense of comfort all throughout the body. An excellent tea can be drank at any stage in its fermentation. It wifi always leave one’s throat and chest comfortable, and only improve with time. There were some teas in this review that met most if not all of these criteria, so I would say this was a very nice opportunity to sort through some altogether great teas.
Lu Li Zhen: I was impressed by the aroma of most all of these teas. Going down the line of competition bowls again and again was a real treat. They all tasted a bit bitter and rough, though. Some of them didn't transform this bitterness well and others did. I found it hard to record and evaluate the cha yun because of the overwhelming roughness. Some of that may change as they are stored for longer periods of time. I wasn't turned off completely from even the worst of them. While I didn't find any of them incredibly enjoyable right now, I think all of them have at least a chance to become excellent vintages of tea. There were a few that I thought will have a lower chance than others, and I think that it is primarily because of improper blending. I think that the blenders weren't as skilled during this time period as they have become recently and I have tasted several newer teas that have impressed me more than these samples did. I think that some consumers and experts alike think that a rich flavor in Puerh means that the tea is exceptionally bitter and astringent, but that actually isn't so. Modern masters can blend teas that are very sweet, smooth and delicious to drink now or as they ferment.
Chen Zhi Tong: It is difficult to come up with a standard to evaluate teas of such different ages. Furthermore, the ranking of such diverse vintages can be a confusing reference for the average consumer. Qi is always important to consider when evaluating Puerh tea, and some of that comes with age. The changes caused by different storage environments is also incredibly relevant. Another key point to remember is that some of the flaws in the teas at this stage In their fermentation will transform or go away given enough time, and some of them may even become virtues later. It is consequently very difficult not to rank the older teas in the review higher. Aged teas are different every year, really, so If all these teas were reviewed again in 2008 the results would be completely different. In my opinion, I find the reviews of a certain year (or at least very close) to be far more rewarding than the ones like this that span a whole decade. Still, that being said, there were some excellent teas in this review and they are all worth noting for enjoyment and investment both.
Chen Gan Bang: We were told that these teas were all from 1992 through 2000 and that several of them were the winners of previous reviews we had done from each of these years. I think even if I hadn't been told that I would've known that these teas came from several different years. This great difference between their ages made it difficult to rank them. It is really hard to not choose the older ones. Also, this review had more excellent teas than any of the previous ones and that made it so that the difference in quality between two samples was really very small indeed. Even the teas that I ranked at the bottom shouldn't be considered bad teas. In fact, some of them were rather good. Their qualities were so similar that it was often just opinion or a preference for a certain flavor that moved a certain sample above another. The H sample impressed me the most. When it entered my mouth, I immediately knew that it was an excellent tea. Many aspects of H presented themselves well, especially the sensations in the throat, which lasted a long time and made me feel very comfortable. At the beginning of the difficult task of ranking these teas, I had it ranked as second, but as I went back and compared the teas again and again I found that it satisfied me more than the other samples. I will definitely be interested to find out its vintage and get some for myself.
He Jing Cheng: All of these samples were very decent teas. The ones that I liked less all seemed to have similar faults: they transformed awkwardly and had chaotic flavors that didn't remain stable throughout the sessions. Many of these flaws are probably due either to improper processing or storage. Some of them might be corrected if they were stored in a proper environment for a long time. I even suspected that some of the teas I didn't enjoy were stored near each other in the same warehouse. This is one explanation why they had the same faults. Nonetheless, none of them are what I would call a bad tea. I really enjoyed some of the samples and will be interested to read about what vintages all of these teas in fact were.