This tea is from a lesser known Hong Kong merchant that specializes in 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), some traditional merchants still age classic CNNP raw pu erh cakes, as they have for decades. 8582 was produced specifically to meet the requirements of a Hong Kong merchant in the 80s, and the 8582 recipe is perhaps more popular here in Hong Kong than anywhere else. This makes it even more quintessentially Hong Kong than traditional storage 7542, since this recipe was created exclusively for our market and to be aged the traditional Hong Kong way!
Drinking this tea today would be much like drinking 8582 in the 90s. The net result is the same: a smooth, easy-to-drink raw pu erh that is smooth to drink and has good huigan and clean camphor notes. 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. I grew up drinking Hong Kong traditional storage teas, with all of their 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 tea is very smooth on the swallow and easy on the guts, 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 many 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 raw pu erh and shu cha. 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).
These 2005 CNNP 8582 cakes were aged by a master of pu erh storage, Hong Kong style. His family's inventory includes some extremely high end pu erh cakes from the 1950s and 1960s too, which I may offer at a later point (they certainly aren't cheap)!
The first time I tried one of these cakes, I was very impressed. There was a light layer of white mold on the cake, but nothing remotely excessive, as can sometimes be the case with other dealers. It was easy to break off enough tea for a session as the traditional storage process loosens up the compression significantly. 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 surprisingly sweet compared to 7542, and has pronounced camphor notes I have never found in 7542. This was a surprise to me as I expected it to be a lot like 7542! This is lovely tea to drink now, and many pu erh aficionados hold older pu erh tea in great esteem. Many feel current factory 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. Pu erh stored in Hong Kong dry storage is completely different. In the case of this 8582, the traditional storage has been done very, very well and this tea is beautifully aged. This is classic, smooth drinking HK-style raw pu erh, but it is really very 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).
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 most 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.