I was going through one of my tea drawers and a small pouch with the 80s 7542 from thechineseteashop said hello. I completely forgot about that one. As I was just finishing my 30rd (or so) steeping of 80s bamboo-wrapped tuocha from EoT (still good), it seemed only natural to continue with another tea from 80s. Now, I was not too sure it's from 80s actually. Or that it is 7542, when it comes to that. I don't think that thechineseteashop is renowned for carrying always the original stuff of best quality. Some things I had from there were admittedly good, but some were rather bad (and two or three were awful). This tea was definitely a pleasant surprise. Thechineseteashop says "our no. 1 premium tea" and according to what I had from there, I agree.
Just to clarify things, it's this one: here. Not the "dry stored" version. After many a good dollar wasted, I tend to steer clear from any "dry stored" tea that is not from HK or Guangzkou (occasionally Taiwan and Malaysia too). However, according to the taste and looks of this tea, I would not call it wet in any way. I think it was normally stored and then kept in a rather dry place from 2001.
There is a tiny hint of storage aroma in the dry leaves, but rinsed leaves are entirely odor-free. The aroma is very nice, smells of herbs, camphor, some agedness and some red fruit in the background. I thought the aroma feeling quite young/clean for an 80s tea which started its life in HK, so I thought it would be a mixed stored tea.
I don't know what you think of the color, but it sure looks like a lovely burgundy to me. It's probably rather light for a tea from 80s, but that's probably a consequence of the 10 years of Vancouver storage.
The taste and overall behavior in mouth is very interesting and unusual. Even though the liquor is thick, it is a special sort of thickness. It does not coat whole of your mouth. Especially when the first steepings first shot a burst of tastes all over my tongue and then quickly went "down", alongside the tongue - it did not really stay at the top of the tongue. In a way, it reminded me of one burgundy wine from 80s I had...
Other than the thickness, there is a good "tasty" sweetness (not entirely like the general aged sweetness which is present everywhere). Beside the expected taste of forest floor, there is a strong taste of aged plums which hints that this tea could be a 7542. Alongside the plums goes spice (light cinnamon), with more camphor and herbs towards the end of the main taste. This tea is really tasty! And dynamic too, it never felt boring to me.
It felt very active in mouth and had a calming, pleasant qi, worth of tea from 80s.
The wet leaves behave well, they do not break easily, which only supports the hypothesis of not-wet storage.
So... This is not the best aged tea I know, but it is very good and it is priced rather reasonably, it seems (if we take, e.g., EoT's prices as a baseline). I sure enjoyed it a lot and would not mind owning some more. On the other hand, it's not cheap, not a complete bargain so I think I'll live without it. Pity.