These 7542 cakes are from the same dealer as the 2004 Xiaguan 8653 I carry here at TeaLife. While from the same period as my 2003-2005 7542, the difference between each dealer's storage method means each dealers' respective cakes have developed in their own way. Comparing this 7542 to the 2003-2005 7542 would make for a very interesting session as the two teas are similar, but also very much unlike each other. Both teas were stored only a few miles apart, but each have distinctive character from each respective dealer's style of warehousing!
Unlike the 2003-2005 7542, the cake has no visible mold on its surface. For those who are mold averse, this cake might well be more to your liking than the '03-'05. The cake shows considerable browning, but the wrappers are in better shape than the '03-'05.
Interestingly, in the cup, this tea feels more aged than the '03-'05 with less astringency and bitterness. This could be due to variations in batches between years, or even within a year, or since leaves from different parts of a plantation (or different plantations) were used. This tea has thick mouthfeel and even a hint of aged date/plum flavor to it. I prefer this 7542 to the '03-'05, and perhaps you will too! If you like the 8653, you owe it to yourself to try another tea from the same warehouse to see how it compares!