This article is from Cloud’s Tea Journal. This article had not been translated into English, so I included it because it has great information on the 88 and 89QB, as well as a review from Cloud. I did not include pictures from his blog, because they are his own. I only translated this because I think the info might be nice for Westerners without access to other resources on the topic, and from a great source at that. For pictures, I highly encourage you to view the original article here
What is the 89 Qing Bing?
89 Qing Bing sounds both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. The familiarity comes from its name sounding very similar to the 88 Qing Bing. Unfamiliarity comes with the fact that it’s oddly off by one number. So what is the similarity between the two? Actually, they are of the exact same origin, only the 88 Qing Bing is defined specifically by its requirement of being dry stored. while the 89 Qing Bing is a 7542 traditionally stored in Hong Kong during the 80’s. Simply put, while both are 25+-year-old aged teas, what separately defines these two teas is their specific storage. The influence their storages have on both flavor and price are significant.
88QB and 89QB
Mention: Actually, our so-called 88QB refers to 7542s produced between the years of 1989 and 1991. They must be dry stored in order to be called an 88 Qing Bing. Due to the fact that there are many of batches of 88QB from the same era, other than the quantities absorbed by a new wave of tea houses in Hong Kong, there is also a portion of these teas that was stored away by other more traditional tea merchants as well. Because these cakes are very distinctly 1989 Qing Bings, (their production tickets being the same as the 88QB) Hong Kong’s traditional tea merchants named them the 89 Qing Bing.
In the 1990s, these 7542 cakes were essentially common products and were not deliberately sorted by year. It is possible that in many places multiple years of 7542 were mixed together due to the fact that during these earlier years, the primary focus was only on separating ripe and raw teas. Even some 7542 cakes that can obviously be identified being from 1992, still have 89青 carved into their bamboo wrappers and were put in with batches of 89 Qing Bings. Of course, later on, tea enthusiasts were able to tell from their wrappings, form, and style what year the teas are from, and thus can separate 1992 7542s out.
I trust that at this point, new tea enthusiasts are probably already getting a headache…To simplify:
88QB= 1989 + 1990 + 1991 Dry Stored 7542
89QB= 1989 + 1990 + 1991 + 1992 Wet Stored 7542
because of this, other late 80’s traditionally stored 7542 cannot be called 《88青餅》 88 Qing Bing.
This can also be because categorization of teas during this time wasn’t very meticulous, thus of some 89QBs from this time, there is a portion of them with the same cake wrappers as the 88QB (such as in the case of teas from the years both 88QBs and 89QBs were produced: 1989, 1990, and 1991), as well as some wet stored cakes from 1992. During these earlier years, some of these traditionally stored 1992 teas were still called 89 Qing Bings. Of course, tea enthusiasts can discern from the appearance of the cake as well as the cake wrappers which of these cakes are in fact 89QBs of this particular year.
89 Qing Bing breaks up very easily.
Cloud’s 89QB was a very lightly wet stored tea. Originally it was stored with all his other aged teas. However, recently while sifting through these aged teas, Cloud suddenly noticed this cake already had two cuts (even though it was stored in its original seal). Because of the fact that it was still originally sealed, there was never any spontaneous urge to open it up to drink. However, any tea that is bought will be consumed someday, and he took these tears as an opportunity – a sign that it was time to drink this tea away.
Basic Info about the 89 Qing Bing
- Bamboo Tong
- 1 Jian (件) traditionally holds 12 Tongs (筒) (84 Cakes)
- Its production ticket is the same as the 88QB, showing 7542_9XX. Only storage is different.
- Production time period: 1989 to 1991 (Showing the same wrappers as the 88QB)
- Production time period: 1992 (Showing the same wrappers as the 92 QB)
- Storage: It must have entered Hong Kong Traditional Storage otherwise it is an 88 Qing Bing
The 89QB cake is both large and wide. The face of the cake is spread with buds, while the back of the cake is very comfortably loose. It is a traditional 7542 blend. The leaves are very sturdy. Again, it’s only difference with the 88QB is its storage conditions. When a tea cake has entered traditional storage, the tea will be more darkish grey, with less oily sheen, and may have some white mold. This is the ideal image of a lightly traditional stored tea. Because the tea’s compression is fairly loose and has had over 25 years of aging, as well as being turned over multiple times by Cloud, the cake split into 3 pieces.
Dry Tea Leaf
89QB’s dry leaf fragrance permeates a very traditional aged scent commonly found in HK stored teas. Warm and mild, without hints of storage scents, with a very obvious scent that aged teas carry. Add on top of this enough water and moisture for maturation, with a concentrated and light whiff, you’ll discover an enticing light medicinal fragrance. This was a pleasant surprise for Cloud. This sort of well-polished sweet and mild tea fragrance is what intoxicates tea enthusiasts.
Opening up the tea: Fragrance and Liquor
Exposing the tea to hot water, the tea’s fragrance opens with a traditional Hong Kong tea’s charm, Mellow and soft, this is the beauty of traditionally stored aged teas – completely different to newer teas and their unripened scent. Of course, Cloud doesn’t discriminate or exclude either experience, because they each have their own style of flavor.
Tea soup’s flavor
From the beginning steeps of the 89 Qing Bing’s tea soup, an aged Hong Kong tea charm can already be felt. In regards to standard Hong Kong traditional stored teas, this tea is well suited for being consumed “this very moment.” As the tea enters the mouth, there is a very smooth aged flavor. The liquor is thick, sweet, and smooth. There is a very light aged returning sweetness (because this tea was only lightly traditional stored, the tea has not sacrificed too many of the special characteristics of a dry stored tea, with more liveliness as it continues to be brewed). As a whole, the tea’s soup is very clear, bright, pleasant, and has already lost any obvious issues that immature teas may show such as bitterness or astringency. Each sip is a smooth aged Hong Kong tea, sweet smooth soup, with now annoying storage flavors. These sort of characteristics will be enjoyed by many pu’er enthusiasts.
As the tea continued to steep, the tea continued to show more sweetness. As the leaves returned to a green color, the tea’s bitterness revealed itself slightly, giving this tea more liveliness and clarity. As I drank I lost the feeling that I was drinking a 25+-year-old tea that had been traditionally stored. In other words, any hint of influence from traditional storage gradually retreated.
The dry stored 89 Qing Bing has already become extremely expensive as of late. There’s nothing to do about that, unfortunately; the trend for dry stored aged teas is on the rise. However, if one can settle for a “Plan B”, and can accept the characteristics of a lightly stored Hong Kong tea, the 89 Qing Bing is absolutely a wonderful choice. The 89QB is only about 1/2 to 1/3 the price of its counterpart (Though to discuss the realistic price for folks with your average disposable income, this may not exactly be affordable in that respect either). When one finds and can accept the taste of an 89QB, to buy and drink now is really not a terrible choice. One can grab this tea and drink it immediately, without being troubled by thinking of holding on to it for too long (Of course, the precursor to this is that you, the tea enthusiast, can accept HK storage, otherwise consider storing some teas dry in your own home!). The future of dry stored aged teas doesn’t look like it will be getting any cheaper, because time is money!
July 6, 2013
Drink-ability now: 5/5
Aged Taste: 4.5/5
Price-Performance Ratio: 4/5