This 2007 remake of the 88 QIngBing was produced by CNNP to capitalize on the success of the original 88 QingBing, which was a Hong Kong dry storage cake that revolutionized the pu erh market. Prior to the 88QB, good pu erh was most popular in Hong Kong and prices were a fraction of what they are today. Vesper Chan's experiment with dry storage tore the Chinese tea world apart and the rest is history!
This tea is a good example of what Southern Chinese dry storage can do for a classic 7542 cake. 7542s are still commonly stored in basement warehouses here in Hong Kong, as they have been for over forty years. Lots of 7542 is also dry stored, not just in Hong Kong and Guangdong, but in less traditional pu erh storage locations such as Taiwan, Kunming and Shanghai, for example. Lots of pu erh aficionados, myself included, greatly respect the venerable 7542 and consider it a benchmark for judging the quality of storage conditions in a particular location (technically a microclimate because of the microflora involved in pu erh aging).
Since this tea was stored in Guangdong by a licensed CNNP wholesaler, this tea is priced at substantially less than a Hong Kong-aged 7542 would be, or even a well-aged Kunming dry storage 7542 would be today. This tea is an excellent deal and I only have access to several tongs of this tea before it is gone forever.
This tea has been pleasantly and carefully aged. There is light bitterness to the tea and much of the classic CNNP 7542 character has been preserved (a wildflower-like flavor that is very specific to this recipe). This is a very pleasant tea to drink and it is smooth and easy on the palate, which is a very important characteristic for Southern Chinese pu erh heads. There is also light citrus flavor present, which I have found is a common flavor in my own dry storage teas and one I am very fond of!
In the third infusion, I noticed subtle huigan under the light bitterness and astringency. I found this to be a pleasant surprise, and I believe the huigan will develop further with appropriate aging.
When I revisited the tea a day later, I found lots of deep character in the leaves. Many teas do not hold up well to resting overnight, but these leaves have lots to give! I noticed a hint of camphor-like character which may become more apparently with further aging as well.