Accidentally discovered and bought three porcelain jars from a local antique shop, the porcelain jar is well sealed with an aged paper of “雲南普洱” (Yunnan Pu-erh) “光緒十六年” (which is in 1890).
Well, the porcelain jars are not in the top quality and the drawing clearly was rural hand works.
First of all, it is not usual to pack and sell tea in a porcelain jar, so surely it’s not meant to sell as tea. Was it a personal collection?
When I shaked the jar, I could clearly hear the crispy sounds from very dried leaves (Puerh would become drier because water content was evaporated during the natural aging process even though it’s well sealed).
Was it really is an antique tea with more than 120 years old? What was really in the jar? How was the quality? …..A series of question came to my mind that woke up my curiosity. In the situation that the shop owner did not ask for outrageous price for these three porcelain jars and under no circumstances that I could request the shop owner to let me open the jar, so I bought them home and tried to find out the truth myself; even if the tea inside is not good, at least I could use them to store my own Puerh tea.
A moment of truth
- The lid of the jar was well sealed by plaster
- The tea leaves are as expected very dried in dark black colour
- Not having very noticeable musty or unpleasant aroma but has very mild and gentle mixture of woody plum and fruity notes
- Brewing in an earthware teapot with almost 100°C water temperature
- After warmed up with hot water, the mixture of woody plum and fruity notes became noticeable, again it’s gentle and mild but not unpleasant
- The tea colour was surprisingly fine with great clarity and transparency in brownish red color
- The flavour was matching with its dried leaves in gentle and not-aggressive or unplesant flavour, but with woody plum mixture of fruity notes
- When poured the tea into the serving cup, could see a kind of cloud floating in tea
- How about the taste? Well, I wish I could share this cup with you because I was joyfully surprised by its dried sweetness, rich but gentleness; easy to swallow.
Well, I have never tasted the aged Puerh that’s older than 25 years, so I do not have very solid base to identify its actual age by comparing the taste; but the gentle aroma from the dried leaves did remind me the memory of my first visit to the Meng Hai Tea Plant in Xi Shuan Ban Na, Yunnan in 2002 when the Deputy Director of the factory showed me a very old Puerh (>80 years) in their tea library. Perhaps it was an imitation long time ago, perhaps in many experts’ point of views the jar is not a high quality antique. But for me, it’s a joyful and imaginative tea journey of the day.
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