I have added 2 semi-age gushus, the raw material comes from older big trees. Both teas are from 2005 and produced by the Gan En Factory, the famous Ban Zhang teacake and Nannuo (a hidden gem) are listed below. These teacakes are old style gushu productions that I would highly recommend. There is a unique charm to these teas and if you have not tried a worthy gushu from this time period (before the exploitation and profiteering really took hold) it is worth exploring. These are teas that will provide you with a reference point and insight to the changes of gushu puerh during the last decade. The comparison of old and new is timeless. In this case it goes well beyond the age of the tea but touches on the practice of environmental exploitation, profiteering and new trends that have become hotly debated as being for better or worse. What is inescapable is that changes have occurred and that modern gushu puerh tea is no longer what it once was under today's increasing pressure of commercialism and capitalism on what was once difficult to access primitive land that supported naturally growing tea trees. Both these teas will take you back in time and provide you with a glimpse into the quality from the past. Experience the "old flavor" through the depth, the fullness and richness in taste, aroma and feel of these teas.
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1) 2003 Six Famous Tea Mountains* YIWU - US$220 per teacake approx. 330g
The SFTM company was established in 2002 by Ruan Dian Rong who was Menghai Tea Factory's former factory manager. SFTM differentiated itself from Menghai TF during the early years by placing an emphasis on regional specific puerh tea. The company made a promising start and produced solid teas during the early years from 2002 to 2003 but thereafter struggled to maintain quality as the raw materials sharply increased in price and became more difficult to source. This period came during the rising popularity of puerh tea under the first wave of the boom years. These teas are early classics by the SFTM company. The 2003 Yiwu is part of a 5000kg limited production.
2) 2005 Gan En BAN ZHANG - US$1200 per teacake approx. 350g or 15g Sample at US$54
This famous tea does not need much of an introduction to avid puerh enthusiasts. The classic Ban Zhang profile can be found here in spades. It is the old flavor that I associate with what made the region of Ban Zhang famous and thus becoming highly sought after to this day. The tea has aged incredibly well. At semi-age the brew is mildly sweet, potent, has good mouth feel and pleasant age complexion of darkening flavors. Tea enthusiasts well often love the tea but not the price. As the price of newly produced Ban Zhang gushu continues to rise, you will get great value from this offering and an opportunity to experience the old flavor of Ban Zhang.
For more information please see posts HERE and HERE
3) 2005 Gan En NANNUO - US$350 per teacake approx. 350g or 15g Sample at US$17
The Nannuo is a hidden gem. It is not often that I encounter gushu puerh tea from a well-known region that possesses a wild primal note that reminds me of a remote forest from an unspoiled environment. In past years I became more familiar with this note from drinking rare productions of boutique teas in Hong Kong and Taiwan that sought out 800 to 1000+ year old trees in addition to truly wild teas. These special boutique teas often showed both depth and complexity but at the same time there was this wild note that appeared an elemental and primitive vibe that felt intrinsic in their character profile. It is a note that I have come to appreciate and recognize as a good validation that a tea comes from a truly natural environment that has retained its biodiversity. The wild primal note can be found here alongside many other positive characteristics.
For more information please see post HERE
* The Six Famous Tea Mountains are labeled as “Wild” but personally I believe the majority of the composition is plantation material. That said drinking both teas reveals sign of good material in the blend and that is justification that some portion of gushu/wild tea material was added to lift the overall composition.