Summing Up the Puerh Teas

Zhou Yu: These teas are all from the 90's, which means they all have about ten years of storage. The popular opinion at that time was that drinking new sheng tea was unhealthy, causing headaches and other ailments. Because of that, many of the teas were put into wet-storage to speed up the fermentation, like samples A, B, and E, which were seriously wet-stored almost or even beyond the point of inactivity. Of these B was stored the best and also had the better Qi. It could transform into a sweeter, richer cake in the future. Now, it tasted almost like a shou tea. The other two were too wet and without any character. Sample D was better than the others. I found it to be a generous tea, complimented with leaves from ancient trees, though I wouldn't call it a great tea. Samples C and G were very similar to each other. They had nice aromas and hui gan, but still a bit light to be candidates for my own collection. In the end, I was rather disappointed with this review, i found our earlier review of 80's teas to be better. Even the 2000 teas reviewed last issue were more informative than these ones.

Lu Li Zhen: I was unsure about the exact ages of these teas. Some of them seemed like sheng and some like shou. None of them had terrible aromas, but they also didn't have any great features. I wasn't over impressed by the flavor or sensations of any of the teas in this review either. I found most of them to be just average teas. I think perhaps some of the samples, like A, may be shou. It tasted smoother and better and the aroma was sweeter and more developed than the others, although this may also be due to wet storage. I thought sample C had the most potential with regards to long term storage. It seemed as if it will undergo greater transformations and improve in quality more than the other dry-stored/sheng teas.

Chen Zhi Tong: Teas from the early 1990's are easily distinguished from those of the 1980's so they are important. Many of these teas are also as good as the late 80's teas, like the famous 88 Qing Bing. Frankly, many of the teas from the early 90's go beyond their age. Many of the products from this age are held in as much esteem, and boast a price index equally to that of the late 80's teas in Taiwan. They have been stored more than ten years and are much cheaper than the next level up, which would be mid-to-early-80's. I think the importance in reviewing teas of this age is that they will be a kind of standard reference for collectors, a gateway between the modern and vintage.

Chen Gan Bang: I had a very relaxing and enjoyable time reviewing these teas. It was very
entertaining, too. We got to drink some pretty good aged teas, even a few high-quality ones that got scores of 80 or more. Many of the teas had similar aromas and sensations in the mouth because of the relative consistency of quality and, I think, age. This made it difficult to make distinctions sometimes. The teas of the early 90's were produced before the great boom in the Puerh market. They were made in a more traditional method and represent the change from the old to the new. This helps explain the difference in cost between new and aged teas. Besides being vintage, the teas from former eras were made from different, better raw materials than current ones. Yunnan was cleaner, more organic and production was much smaller and slower. Now Puerh has become a kind of mass-produced merchandise. Evaluating old and new Puerh requires a different set of criteria. One needs to be careful. Just because a tea is old, doesn't mean it's worth buying. It isn't worth spending so much money on a tea that isn't nice, with good aroma and flavor, nice sensations and hui gan, regardless of the age.

He Jing Cheng: I think that all nine of these teas were from the early part of the 90's. All of them were so patient that they could fill up an entire session in a satisfying way. Samples F and I were better to me because they seemed to have more personality and stand out from the rest. The others were also all different, but less remarkably so. I thought sample B was the wettest and tasted flat, so I ranked it as the worst of the bunch. I enjoyed reviewing these teas. Many of them were very pleasurable to drink.