This is a commemorative cake for the Hong Kong Tong An Tea Company. Made with Simao material, this tea was dry stored in Hong Kong by one of Hong Kong's oldest pu erh merchants. The current owner is a personal friend of the owner of the Tong An Tea Company. This recipe was designed specifically for storage in Hong Kong, and it has aged beautifully!
The surface of the cake looks rustic and like all the leaves are larger and of approximately the same size. This cake is a blend of different higher grade leaves, including lots of one bud one leaf stalks. The leaves are larger than in something like a 7542, and I believe the larger leaves have helped this tea hold onto its origin character better than a smaller-leaved cake would have under the same conditions.
The first infusion (after two rinses) presents me with more bitterness than I'd expect from a Hong Kong dry storage cake of this age. The bitterness is, however, relatively mild due to the aging. This tea has held onto a certain specific character. I'm not familiar with young Simao tea, so I can't say if the flavor is textbook Simao, but it is indeed very pleasant and I was surprised at the depth of flavor this tea had. It is different from Menghai and Yiwu tea for sure. The balance between the terroir and the aging here is wonderful and I really like where this specific tea is right now!
I pushed the second infusion harder when trying this cake, and managed to elicit some astringency. The bitterness had already faded by infusion two, which was surprising. The exotic character from the leaves persists and is really very enticing. This cake is unlike any other pu erh I've had, and it definitely stands out among the other HK and Guangdong stored teas I've tried due to the unique and longlasting flavor the leaves have to give.
I feel these leaves really benefited from the heat and humidity in HK, since I believe the bitterness must've been quite intense when this tea was new. The strong leaves have really held up well over the years. Please note the leaves appear browner in real life than they do in the shot of the wet leaves above.
This is a great tea I think everyone should try, and I am considering picking up more to age since the leaves have already proven they can handle the conditions here and age into something wonderful! This was a 400g cake when pressed. After water loss over the years, you are still getting well over 300g with one of these cakes, which makes it quite a good deal.