Thursday, May 17, 2018

Verifying a “50 Year Old Puerh Brick”

This is one of the three pieces I picked up at a local Traditional Chinese Medicine pharmacy in town.  To me it is the most unlikely to be what the sellers says it to be so it should be the easiest to confirm out of the three purchases that day.  I actually would have not even bought it if it wasn’t for me verifying the authenticity of the other “1970s” bings.  It is definitely the long shot out of the three.

As I said in the initial post, the herbalist was told they were 50 years old puerh from his herbal distributor.  He couldn’t verify the claim.  He said it came from Hong Kong.  He said that it’s the best tasting puerh that he’s carried- much better than the other 2 cakes I purchased.   He says that he is not a puerh tea drinker.  I remember that these bricks were not available for purchase in this same shop in 2009 when I picked up a 2004 Xiaguan tuo for a few bucks.

After inspecting the wrapper closely, it looks newer than the 50 year old claim so immediately I am doubtful.  The wrapper paper looks and feels like the newer type of wrappers used and there isn’t the telltale signs of aging that you would expect on a 50 years aged brick such as yellowing/ browning, teats and holes, and other wear.  If it was stored in Hong Kong I’m pretty sure it would have at least some of these signs after 50 years.

I open the plastic wrap sealing this cake and the dry leaves are a deep reddish colour.  Dry leaf smells of woody odours and piled autumn leaves with a faint plum odour.  It looks and smells like shu puerh to me.  The obvious piled autumn leaf odour indicates that this tea hasn’t really mellowed out for 50 years.  The odour would be mellower and not as sharp.  Also, there is a complete absence of old storage notes to the dry leaf at all.  No dusty, musty, attic, old library odours what so ever.  A 50 year old tea is sure to have some of this. Maybe it was just really dry stored for a long long time and kind of preserved in this state?  It is terribly dry here on the Canadian prairie…

The first infusion is impressive, much better than expected, but a bit inconspicuously lively…

It starts off creamy and sweet with a pronounced date and creamy sweet nuance in leafy woody aged tastes.  The taste is very sweet and ends is a cool menthol on the breath.  The mouthfeel is oily and lubricated with a very slight mild graininess and almost astringency left on the tongue and throat.  The aftertaste is long and very enjoyable.  The sweetness is a thick dense syrupy sweetness.

The second is very thick, dense, oily and heavy syrupy sweetness.  There is also a light sweetness as well gliding overtop the heavier sweetness.  Deep leaf pile and slight wood give this aged tea solid complexity.  There is a deep low smokiness as well.  This tea seems like it is a shu puerh from 5-10 years old tops.  It’s hard for me to tell exactly now old but likely between 5-10 years not 50.  Qi is a bit relaxing and stimulating but nothing too out of the ordinary.

The third infusion starts off with a typical creamy sweet shu puerh notes.  The aftertaste is creamy and slightly sweet.  The mouth has a certain astringency to it.  There is a leafy piled taste and woody taste to it.  At this point it seems obvious to me that this is for sure shu puerh and most likely mid-late 2000s is my guess.

The fourth infusion starts again with a creamy smoothness.  This tea is so shu puerh- creamy sweet dense slightly cooling aftertaste.  Slight woody notes, creamy almost icing sugary on top.  The mouthfeel is full and slightly sandy on the tongue.

The fifth infusion is much the same.  There is a slight scratchiness to the throat.  It really tastes like some standard shu to me here.  It contains the classic shu base profile taste.  It’s not at all bad but not 20 years old, never mind 50 years.  There is a nice vanilla note that is pretty long in the throat in the sixth infusion.  There is a bit of dry astringency in the throat.

The seventh is becoming astringent and drying with a dry woody leaf taste.  There is a slight cooling.  The stamina is not there.

This ones the dud.

For $47.00 for 250g.  This tea is not worth it but still a totally drinkable item.  I have actually gone to this puerh at work a few times and quite enjoyed it.

My guess is a 5-10 year old shu- nice enough to enjoy as a daily drinker.



Varat Phong said...

It feels like you've bought a few lottery tickets and are now rooting for the results .... and we are rooting for it with you.

Good luck!

Curigane said...

Just in case, i think I'll start paying a bit more attention to CM shops in the uk. ;) hope it pays off for you.

Matt said...


Hahaha... I like that.

Fingers crossed I hit the Jackpot!


It’s definately worth a look. I think you would have better luck in smaller cities off the beaten path- not big cites. Good luck treasure hunting!