Bringing out the 1990s Private Production (Light Wet Stored) from storage. This mid to late 90s tea is distinctive in the way that the wet storage conditions was managed to coexist with the raw characteristics of the tea.
The range in quality of private productions is extremely wide-ranging. It takes considerable patience and effort to filter out the good teas from the mass of low quality productions. Find the right tea and you can get good value for the quality offered like this particular batch of teacakes. This tea represents a synergy of the old practice (traditional wet storage) and the new trend (natural dry storage). The resulting tea possess the dark influence of wet storage and yet is able to retain a good portion of complexity and the raw characteristics of sheng puerh tea. The teacake consists of a blend of big tree material (possibly wild leaf which would not have been expensive at the time) and plantation. The strength and potency of good plantation leaf is ideal for wet storage as weak teas can easily become exhausted and hollowed in taste. The big tree material adds another dimension to the character, rounding out the flavors and adding texture to the brew.
The teacake was compressed with stone molds. The color has darkened with age under light wet storage.
It is best to Gongfu brew this tea so that the development of the tea can be appreciated during the progression of steeps. The water should be boiling hot and allowed to cool only slightly to take the edge of the heat. I recommend a double rinse for all wet stored and ripe puerh tea. The tea begins with a warm wood and barky element and subsequently develops into a pleasant balance of sweet and fruity note within a background of soft wood and loam. The tea leaves revealed good strength and longevity during the tea session. The astringency of the tea has softened with age and under the wet storage conditions, however the lingering bitterness can still make its presence felt during the early steeps if one is not attentive. The tea is still very much active possessing some lively notes. I enjoyed the tea session and found the tea to be sufficiently pleasant to drink now. At this point the tea is more stimulating rather than possessing the grounding and calm energy of the classic Hong Kong style of traditional storage. That said it is far from maturity and its best years lay ahead. With more patience I expect this tea to become very good indeed.
As the brew cools the sweet fruity flavor is emphasized.