February 24, 2011
Jing Tea Shop 1984 Jia Ji Tuo Cha
It's been a while since I've done a specific tea review, so here's one. This tea's either still available or now unavailable, depending on where you look on Jing's website ('Rare Teas' for the former, 'Raw Pu-erh Tea' for the latter). I eyed this tea for quite a while from afar--watching as it sold out and was restocked, wondering if it was worth $1.45/gram. I try not to nickel and dime too much about these kinds of things, but this tea wasn't available as a per-gram sample, so the stakes were higher. Obviously I eventually caved under the auspices of the classically pathetic "birthday present to myself."
This tea is ultimately a bit disappointing, but mostly in relation to its price--I can point with every finger on one hand (maybe some on another) at less expensive teas at Essence of Tea that I prefer to this one. In brief, this tuo isn't as mature as I'd hope from a 1984 tea, and it's also less complex and less enduring than I've come to expect from aged pu-erh. Does this all come down to its storage? Surely, when it comes to maturity and remaining astringency, but when it comes to complexity and endurance I really have no idea. A more humid might transform the flavor with a little more depth, but then again the original source material might just not have the complexity found in more famous blend bings.
Really, though, a few years ago this would have been the best aged pu-erh I'd ever tried--the drier storage does bring out a sweetness that for some reason always reminds me of blackberry bushes. It's quite sweet and soft in the mouth barring a little astringency, and it does survive more brews than an unaged pu-erh. If this were the only aged pu-erh I'd invested in, I'd probably be pretty upset. As it stands, it's a rather expensive addition to my modest stash of aged tea that I'll be able to occasionally dip into in order to take the pressure off the better stuff. I suppose part of the expense goes toward the reminder that not all aged teas are good, and that years aren't always an accurate measure of maturity.