August 2017: The price of this tuo went up 20% this year! Those who bought before the price hike saved 20%. I'd suggest picking up these tuos while you can as inventory is limited.
These tuos are from 1994 and have been through HK traditional storage, followed by a process of airing out to remove storage aromas and flavor.
China Tea/CNNP tuos are a popular and economical choice. These tuos are highly compressed and age slowly. They are famous for requiring phenomenal effort to break up because of the high compression. This is definitely true, but these tuos are worth the effort!
These 1994 China Tea tuos were aged by a master of pu erh storage, Hong Kong style. The dealer specializes in aged pu erh, and his family's inventory includes some extremely high end pu erh cakes from the 1950s and 1960s too, which I may offer later on (they certainly aren't cheap)!
The first time I tried one of these tuos, I was impressed. There was a light layer of white/gray mold on the tuo, but nothing excessive. It was easy to break off enough tea for a session as traditional storage loosens up the compression significantly, but the tea will dry out and harden in less humid places, including my office here in HK, which is eleven floors up and away from the water. This tea has been airing out for several years, too, so the humid storage notes are very mild indeed, as far as HK storage goes. The tea is very smooth and has no bitterness (tuocha is known to be bitter and requires decades to age with dry storage). There is an aged camphor note that is quite pleasant. This is lovely tea to drink now, and many pu erh aficionados hold older pu erh tea in great esteem. Many feel current production doesn't meet the standards of older tea, due to changes in cultivation and production techniques because of increasing demand for pu erh tea.
This dealer is known for heavy traditional storage that ages away the origin character in a significant way. Due to the high compression of China Tea tuos, this has worked out perfectly and this tea is very well aged. This is classic, smooth drinking HK-style raw pu erh, but it is still different from the 7542s I also offer. Comparing this tea to the 7542s would be very interesting, as the 7542s I carry are offered by different dealers who also store their teas by the waterfront (where the humidity is highest). Additionally, some of the original character remains, even after traditional storage, but in a much more subtle way than would be discernable with twenty-two years of dry storage.
The leaves have darkened significantly, as you would expect with traditional storage, and the tea brews up beautifully dark, almost like shu cha. This tea is an absolute pleasure to drink!
Brewing suggestion: 5-8g per 100ml. Less or more depending on your taste. Place tea in a preheated pot or gaiwan. Rinse twice with boiling water, or water just off the boil, allowing 30 seconds to one minute between rinses to allow the leaves to expand. I like to use 10-20 second rinses, but some prefer to rinse for longer; this is a matter of personal preference. My first infusion is usually 10-20 seconds long, but you can vary your infusion lengths depending on the amount of leaf you use, and how strong you like your tea.
Please note: most traditional Hong Kong tea merchants do not offer discounts on volume until I am purchasing several kilograms at a time, and in some cases, no discounts are offered at all, even for ten kilos of a single tea or more. For this reason, I cannot offer a discount on larger purchases at this time.