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2014 Jay's HK Natural Storage Haiwan 908 Ripe Pu Erh Cake (200g)

2014 Jay's HK Natural Storage Haiwan 908 Ripe Pu Erh Cake (200g)

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I purchased three tongs (15 cakes) of this shou in December 2017, not knowing what to expect, but with confidence after very good experiences with Haiwan shou bricks (I, and many of my buyers, have been absolutely blown away by the sweet jujube-tasting 7588 I've sourced over the last few years).

These cakes have all of the fancy packaging and security features you'd expect on a big factory pu erh production. Haiwan are one of the best factories out there, and they are renowned for their shou since the owner was one of the people responsible for the introduction of ripe pu erh in the 70s.

This cake is made with smaller material: it took me two years to even unwrap and look at one of these cakes, but I finally got around to trying one today. The smell from the material reminded me somewhat of Dayi's 2017 Golden Needle White Lotus, but less intense. I got some of the smokey tobacco complexity from the dry cake that I get from the Dayi cake, which was a surprise.

Rest assured I was even more surprised when I broke into the cake and tried it! The compression on these cakes is very tight, and even two years in my warehouse has had minimal effect on loosening these babies up. 

I went 10g/150ml (in my Ruyao Bodhidharma gaiwan).

The liquor smelled sweeter than the actual cake, but the fermentation level of this material was higher than I'd expect from Haiwan, and with a smaller leaf grade. There are some darker, earthier shou notes here along with the sweetness, but this is a very balanced tea. Dayi, Xiaguan and Haiwan are really very good at blending material for shou and there is definitely an art to it. While this is a sweet cake, I would say it is balanced perfectly by dark notes but the aromas and flavors meld together very well compared to some of the shou I've had from smaller producers who've tried their hand at blending different grades of shou: the big boys really know what they're doing.

This is a clean, pleasant and smooth tea. There is still residual bitterness here, perhaps because of the very tight compression, but the dui wei (fermentation taste) is long gone after two years in my warehouse. I would think this cake fresh, or from milder storage a la Kunming, would be quite a beast to try and tame at high ratio (fermentation taste, bitterness, rough on tummy, etc). The tight compression on this cake means I think it needs quite a bit more time to age as quickly as many other big factory shou recipes, but this is definitely a great shou and a very interesting example of how diverse Zhou Bing Liang's shou productions (and sheng, for that matter) really can be!

I've never had a smaller grade, gongting-heavy shou quite like this one, and I really am impressed by how well the blend and fermentation level here works. Dayi stuff is much more aromatic and sweet smelling, but this is a very nice departure from that style of shou.

I got distinct flavor notes of chocolate and even black coffee, which was a surprise. The liquor has some thickness to it, which has probably been well preserved by the compression!

This is a great, clean and smooth tea I'd highly recommend if you'd like to try something gongting-based with higher compression (but smooth, nicely aged and sans dui wei) that I have no doubt will continue to age well in appropriate storage environments.

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