From what I’ve gathered around the traps, there’s a healthy amount of interest in aged white tea these days. Unfortunately, I know nothing about white teas. More-fortunately, a buddy of mine (Adrian, for those who know him) is bigly into them, has been Taobaoing baicha for a while, and is keen to put together a GB. Teas will be unvetted, range from ~7 to ~20+ years old, and span from stupid-cheap to ~50c/g at the very top end. Skip to the end of this blogpost for a better summary.
Meanwhile, I’ve been in a funk since the 2003 75faux2 sold out, and I’m on the lookout for more tasty early-00s facsimiles of oldschool factory productions. The 75faux2 vendor (also the source of the Nanqiao Blue/Purple Peacocks from GB3) has a number of interesting-looking cakes, ranging from plausible to ridiculous, affordable to hell-naw. The GB6 lineup will consist of a couple of moderately-priced cakes from that vendor (which will inform my choice to gamble on the more expensive cakes, later on, since he doesn’t offer samples), and a couple of other 綠印/green-mark productions which – while they might as well have “random BS” scrawled across the wrapper in sharpie – have the general appearance of the kind of blends I’m after. Hey, it worked for the 75faux2…
UPDATE: Sean has kindly negotiated for a sample set from one of the new pu’er vendors, which will arrive with the white teas.
As a result, expect the pu’er buy to follow the aged-white buy by 2-3 weeks. I hate waiting as much as the next guy, but vetted buys are a much stronger proposition and make the inclusion of fancier teas feasible.
MORE UPDATE – I’ve obtained all available samples from one of the vendors, none of which (unfortunately) are of the Green Mark cakes, but rather of cheaper minor-factory productions. As such, this buy will be unvetted and run at the same time as the white tea buy, and you can expect a partially-vetted buy for the random cakes in late November or early December, should the samples impress.
The way this will work is that participants can indicate interest in and a maximal budget for each of the two buys. Assume that BOTH buys will proceed when indicating your budget (though obviously there’s no commitment implied).
Survey is here. Buy is closed. As always, those who filled out the survey earlier will be given priority when the buy launches.
Explicit tea lists will be posted when the buy launches, but here are some examples of the teas under consideration for GB6. Prices given are converted list price:
2002 Simao Gupu’er Tea Factory Green Mark, ~60USD, new vendor (1, 2)
2000 Green Mark, ~100USD, new vendor, (1, 2)
2005 XG-Style Big Red Mark, ~60USD, faux2 vendor, (1, 2)
2000 Pale Green Mark, ~100USD, faux2 vendor, (1)
EDIT: Final candidate list will look something like this (consider all info to be surrounded with enormous air-quotes)
2000 CNNP Pale Green Mark
2000 CNNP Green Mark “Banzhang Shengtai”
2000 Gu Simao Green Mark
“90s” Fengqing Tea Factory Fragrant Bamboo
2002 Zhongcha Banzhangwang
1998 CNNP “Menghai Gucha”
Depending on how many people we get and how top-heavy the buy is, I’ll probably include some mid-00s Naka Zhutongcha as well – there’s a 2005 in particular that I feel is very good value for money at 60USD/500g.
Per Adrian, regarding GB7:
This buy will not specialize in any particular type or age of white tea, it will be a very broad sampler where you can try the various types and ages, and also try a bit of really old expensive material. The lineup was designed designed for both aged baicha fans and first time drinkers, letting the latter get their feet wet with a broad spectrum while letting the former see what some of the popular options are like on taobao before caking.
Something important to remember with aged whites is that they are all essentially white label cakes. The entire category of tea is relatively young in terms of being a marketed product, so there’s not much clarity about what material ages best or what storage conditions will age the cakes optimally. Factories exist that manufacture white tea in both Fuding and Yunnan, but there’s little to no reputation around them. There are no famous factories, recipe productions, or vintage years. We’ll be buying from a couple of flagship taobao shops in Fuding, but even then, the white label rule applies. When buying aged baicha, the standard DLC groupbuy precautions are always in full effect.
Now that’s out of the way, on to the tea. We’ll be buying every major type of aged baicha in this order:
- shoumei (large grade/huang pian)
- gongmei/bai mu dan (smaller grade)
- yue guang bai (moonlight white)
- yabao (yunnan winter buds)
- bai hao yin zhen (silver needle).
Some of these will be drastically different from their young equivalents (mid-90’s shoumei) and some will be much more subtly changed by the aging (silver needle). Almost everything in the buy will be at least 10 years old with one or two offerings pushing past 20 years old.