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2001 HK Traditional Storage CNNP 7542 Raw Pu Erh (50g)

2001 HK Traditional Storage CNNP 7542 Raw Pu Erh (50g)

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This tea is from a lesser known Hong Kong merchant that specializes in ripe pu erh, and has sold pu erh for over sixty years. While the Hong Kong pu erh market has long been dominated by shu, or ripe, pu erh (ripe pu erh was invented specifically to satisfy the insatiable demand for pu erh by Hong Kong merchants, both for domestic consumption and export worldwide), many traditional merchants still age classic CNNP 7542 cakes the old way, as they have for decades. 7542 is often the only raw pu erh these old school dealers carry, and it is a classic recipe that is truly timeless. 7542 is also the recipe that started the dry storage craze and subsequent boom in demand for pu erh, up until the market crash in 2008.

Aged the traditional Hong Kong way, drinking this tea today would be much like drinking 7542 in the 80s. The net result is the same: a smooth, easy-to-drink raw pu erh. Here in Hong Kong, most elderly people would never dream of drinking the fresh single tree raw pu erh that western and Mainland pu erh aficionados are crazy about today, and I too grew up drinking Hong Kong traditional storage teas, with all of their characteristic humid storage notes. I had no clue pu erh could be anything but HK traditional storage up until I started posting on Western tea boards and learned more about tea in general, and especially pu erh, or po lei, as we call it here in Hong Kong. 

This dealer's storage has a signature flavor and the storage is more humid than on the 2003-2005 7542 I also carry. There is a light layer of white mold on this dealer's 7542, but the storage is still very well balanced and this is a great example of Hong Kong traditional storage. As with all of the traditional storage teas I carry, this tea should be aired out to help the humid storage notes dissipate. 

This tea is very smooth on the throat and easy on the gut, which is the goal of HK traditional storage, and the main reason why older people here won't touch new pu erh. Drinking fresh maocha is considered lunacy by much of the older generation because it can sometimes cause havoc on the digestive tract, but of course, it isn't something that is traditional to them and they are used to drinking aged pu erh and shu cha. Modern young sheng is processed very differently from traditional pu erh, and in many cases, is really not suitable for long-term aging because of the way it is processed. This tea has a pronounced calming and relaxing effect on my tummy and aids my digestion, as all good aged pu erh and good shu cha should (if consumed in moderation, of course).

The dealer who sold me this tea suggested blending this 7542 with aged 7572 or her raw/ripe mix (which I also offer, and drink regularly) to make it more palatable! Even drinking aged raw pu erh is seen as unusual by many in the traditional Hong Kong tea scene today, since shu pu erh changed everything here when it was introduced. I told her I actually enjoyed drinking raw pu erh, and she looked at me like I was nuts! Adding the 7542 to the raw/ripe mix or to a good cooked pu erh would indeed make for a very pleasant tea session and raw and ripe teas are often brewed together in Hong Kong in this manner.

From the third infusion on, this tea has a pronounced sweetness, which is very pleasant. This tea has excellent longevity (you can get several good infusions from it) as with all classic 7542 recipe teas. This is an excellent example of old school HK storage 7542 and would be interesting to compare to the slightly younger 2003-2005 7542, which was stored in slightly less humid conditions. A comparison would show you how individual warehouses (within a mile of each other, in many cases) impart their own house flavor to the teas stored in them!

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 purchases. No volume discount is possible on this tea because this dealer uses a strict fixed pricing system. 

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