Saturday, December 2, 2023

2004 Ai Lao Natural Malaysian Storage: Recommend Aged Value


Correct me if I’m wrong… But it has taken four years for TeasWeLike to start curating Northern area puerh (what about this nice one?).  I was trying to give Marco a little nudge-nudge when I sent my last blind sample package of Northern everyday drinkers last year… hahaha.  So I have been really looking forward to this release… and when it finally came I was like Ai Liao … really?

We have all tried lots of Ai Liao area puerh in our lifetime.  It was a staple of the early Gushu movement of teas as featured in Yunnan Sourcing’s first releases amongst many others.  Despite all the fresh Ai Lao area puerh I’ve consumed I have never tried any that was substantially aged.  I wondered aloud the last time of consumption what exactly could Ai Lao puerh possibly age into? … and finally now we have our answer… well sort of…

“I’ve seen that wrapper before “ is something that has inevitably entered into the consciousness of all long time puerh drinkers… when I saw this 2004 Ai Lao Natural Malaysian Storage ($120.00 for 400g cake or $0.30/g) on the TeasWeLike site.  It’s most definitely of old school factory production and pedigree.  I don’t think we can really expect the Gushu productions of Ai Lao that we have gotten to know will age similar to this old school tight compressed chopped leaf… so now I’m getting pretty excited about finally finding out how this stuff could sort of theoretically age out…

Dry leaves have a sweet plum cherry sweet odour with slight fallen leafy background.

First infusion is left to cool and is an oily sweet plum cherry slight sour woody viscus treat.  There is a woody resin almost bready base taste.  Quite oily and mouthwatering.  Obvious fruity aged tastes.  Slight cool mouth and open throat. Happy qi feeling.

Second infusion has a woody resin sweet bready taste with fruity sour pops of fruity flavours underneath.  Sour cherry, sour berries- sweet and sour dominate here.  Still nice oily mouthfeel with a faint mouth dryness.  Slight warming.  

Third infusion has a woody sour fruit taste over an oily slight silty dry mouthfeeling.  Sort of woody bready sweet faint sour fruit left in the mouth.  Nice happy vibe with some mild warming.

Fourth infusion has pops of sour cherry with woody almost mushroom taste.  Slight roast incense underneath now.  Has a bit of oily texture but with an increasing dryness in the mouth, gums, roof slight squeaky dry.  Slight relaxing energy.

5th has a rich woody fruity sour taste.  There are layers of an almost sugar sweetness, a woody base and sour fruity sweetness.  A bready almost fruity sweetness is left in the mouth.  Nice happy relaxed feeling.

6th has a sweet roots and woody ciccory sweetness.  The mouthfeel gets slightly tighter and drier with each infusion but still a touch of oily texture.  This infusion has a warm spice almost Ginseng taste note here.  Less fruity and sour and more sweet and spiced.  Nice mind relax happy.

7th infusion has a nice deep rich sweet woody taste upfront with slight resin and incense.  Sweet rich woody bready taste dominates with still some oily texture.  

8th has a sweet flavour woody rich almost jam sweetness with some faint bitter astringency nice chalky silty mouthfeel.  Uplifting happy qi. Mild warming. Slight incense smoke in distance but mainly woody sweet.

9th I steep out the next day… and it’s a mild sweet mild sour woody taste… slight gripping mouthfeel with a very faint chalky bubble gum taste which did not come up in the session or sessions before.  

Vs 2003 Shuangjiang Mengku (Rongshi) Da Xue Shan Wild-  when I started to sample this 2004 Ai Lao I immediately found lots of similarities between these two.  Both Northern puerh with areas close in proximity, almost identical production year, both old factory productions with tight compression, very similar natural Malaysian storage taste.  The big difference is that the Da Xue Shan is a wild tea not conventional variety and as such there is lots more space with less dense flavour but on the other hand a bit stronger Qi.  The 2004 Ai Lao has much more complexity and more evolution across the session.  It’s much more dense, delicious, warming- my favourite is the woody resinous taste and oily texture in the first few infusions!  The 2003 Da Xue Shan is at the low-ish end of acceptable occasional drinker tea.  It’s quite touchy for getting a delicious session- if too much leaf or steeped with an overly heavy hand it becomes astringent woody brackish.  Sometimes the session ends this way if you are pushing out long infusions.  The 2004 Ai Lao can sometimes get a touch sour if steeped too heavy.  The 2003 Rongshi Da Xue Shan Wild was actually restocked and the price doubled since I purchased it to only $0.24/g whereas the 2004 Ai Lao is $0.30.  The Ai Lao is in my mind at least three times better!  Great work on your sourcing TeasWeLike!

The description on the TeasWeLike site seems like a half hearted endorsement though.  It states, “ perhaps not as exciting as its southern counterparts, but an attractive and affordable example of aged puer nevertheless”.  Can anyone answer me which Southern puerh offering on the TeasWeLike site is as cheap, as aged, and as engaging as this 2004 Ai Lao Natural Malaysian storage????? I will have a hard time not reordering this one!



Anonymous said...

I think it's worth pointing out that if you order a kilo of the Mengku brick the price is $157 (with the current exchange rate), so it's not really that much more expensive than when you bought it. Shipping is expensive though.

Anonymous said...

Actually I bet you're probably just using CAD instead of USD since their website sets the currency automatically. Ai Lao sounds nice

Matt said...


Yes it does look like the price is Canadian as it seems to go up and down with the exchange rate. Sites usually state CND but this site doesn’t. Thanks for mentioning this error.