This cake is from a dealer who specializes in traditional storage pu erh; several of the HK traditional storage cakes on this site, such as the 2001 CNNP 7542, come from this dealer's warehouses.
Until very recently, I did not know the dealer had also attempted dry storage! I initially held off on purchasing this 2004 7542 since the cake smelled quite a bit like the dealer's traditional storage 7542s, and I was somewhat skeptical about how the family's attempt had turned out. I finally decided to give it a try since the dealer had recommended it wholeheartedly. I've never been steered wrong by this family when it comes to pu erh, so here we are! I must say I was very pleasantly surprised by this tea. While the dealer's dry storage is more humid than my own home storage because of a difference in microclimates, this is definitely an interesting cake since it shows that individual storage conditions, even within the same city, can mean tea turns out profoundly different down the line.
The dry cake, even through the wrapper, has an earthy aroma that smells like the dealer's 2001 CNNP 7542 and the ripe/raw mix, to some extent. Once unwrapped, there is just a hint of mold on the surface of the bing; much less than would be encountered with traditional storage.
The leaf quality of this cake looks better than CNNP 7542s from the same period; the leaves appear to be less chopped on the surface.
After two rinses, I get the classic wildflower character 7542 is known for. Of course, this character is somewhat muted, but the tea has smoothened out remarkably. A new 7542 is rough drinking unless brewed with great care. This tea is very clean, easy to drink and the bitterness is light and very tolerable. The cake is even developing the date-like flavors many of us hope for in aged pu erh.
This is an excellent cake that really surprised me! The dealer would've purchased these cakes shortly after the Qing Bing madness occurred here in Hong Kong. The family's attempt at dry storage turned out wonderfully!