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1980s HK Traditional Storage Thai Ripe Pu Erh (16g)

1980s HK Traditional Storage Thai Ripe Pu Erh (16g)

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This ripe pu erh has been stored by a Hong Kong family for almost 40 years! During the 80s, all pu erh exported to Hong Kong from China was manufactured by CNNP, China's state enterprise for food products (including tea, oxtail soup, oil, rice, and many other commodities considered essential). Hong Kong was the main export market for pu erh due to the city's appreciation for pu erh as a more economical substitute to the liu an the Cantonese loved so much. Well, some people couldn't afford ripe CNNP pu erh back then either: Hong Kong businessmen decided there was a gap to fill, and fill it they did! Vietnamese 'pu erh' was exported to Hong Kong from the early 1900s, and possibly even earlier, and when China shut its doors to the outside world after the Great Leap Forward, Hong Kong continued importing tea from Southeast Asia. 

This shou was produced not long after CNNP started producing large scale amounts of ripe pu erh to meet export demand through Hong Kong, and I'm amazed by the quality of this product. The 1980s loose shou I carry is of a more broken leaf grade: I feel the quality of this Thai shou is much better, and it's possible old tree material from the wilderness of Northern Thailand was used to produce these cakes. Myanmar and Thailand boh have some very interesting native tea trees that can be used to produce tea as good as Yunnan's best, in my opinion, and perhaps even better! Vietnam's native trees aren't assamica, but have also long been picked by local tribes for their own consumption, and some of this tea is truly excellent as well.

I was very fortunate to be presented with a sample of this tea to try, and I think many of you will find this interesting as well! There was a tiny bit of foreign matter in the sample (a small bit of fine thread and a tiny seed husk).

After two rinses, I got to brewing this tea. I used a fairly high ratio: I tend to have one heavy session a day now. 10g to 150ml (Factory 1 White Lavel hongni shuiping) worked very well. The tea was sweet and smooth, but still with surprising thickness to it. for the age The storage notes (petrichor, earth) are very light after all of the years of natural storage after the well controlled traditional storage process. This is an excellent example of old shou and was definitely not taken too far during the initial wet storage phase. I found the tea also had well balanced bitterness, which I didn't expect, but the bitterness fit the overall profile of the tea very well and made for a very interesting experience.

There is some date in the aftertaste as well, which is unexpected for a traditional storage tea. There is a lightness and pleasant ku wei (sweetness after bitterness) that I found very pleasant, and reminiscent of wild (or, dare I say it, gushu) material. This tea has maintained more character from the original material than I ever expected, so I suspect the initial fermentation was quite light, which I didn't expect. 

The tea had excellent longevity, and a long lasting sweetness that persisted for over an hour. This is truly an excellent historic example of a shou made specifically to meet Hong Kong market demand, back when many couldn't even afford cheap CNNP pu erh produced specifically for our market! Quantities of this tea are limited, of course, as there is no rewind button to the 80s! I personally prefer this tea to the 1974 7452, and you might too!

I can provide full cakes of this tea on request, but the price per gram is considerably higher. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to purchase whole bings of this tea!

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