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Reflections on Spring 2014 Puer Tea

Finally back to my perch in Beijing after spending two months and change in Yunnan scouting out Spring puer tea.

Spring Puerh 2014

Tea in Menghai, Yunnan, China. Spring 2014

There are too many stories of great people, teas, and adventures, so I thought it might be easier to bullet point some broad observations about the puer tea and tea market this year:

  • It was an excellent year for early Spring puer. There  was very little rain. Some places noted that the last rain they saw was in October of 2013. This drought is by no means good for the region or good in any sense, other than the fact that tea which sprang forth in 2014 was strained, concentrated, and powerful
  • Most of the best teas I experienced this Spring were low on fragrance but had flavor and fragrance buried deep within the soup, rather than “on the top” or surface fragrance. This might make people who are fragrance chasers upset, but for fans of aging puer with depth 2014 is ideal. Many villages still use a fragrance heavy method of production, but in my book those teas are all flash and no guts.
  • This Spring had more tourists than I have ever seen on tea mountains. Lots of people with big hats, fanny packs, Coach bags, and sunglasses coming up to the more famous locations like Laobanzhang, Laoman’e, and Jingmai. Some people flew in to Xishuangbana just to go and visit Laobanzhang. They all assured me they purchased some very real Laobanzhang because they know some guy there or something. They likely all left with fake crap.
  • Lots of problems with fakes in areas that were previously not full of fakes. Big factories like Yulin and Chenshenghao set prices high enough to make it lucrative for the farmers to bring in material from their cousins in other villages and sell it off as their own. This was always the case in places like Laobanzhang, but now it is happening all over. No point in buying Yulin cakes, they are expensive and chocked full of low quality material.
  • Processing skill in smaller villages seems to get increasingly better. Many tea entrepreneurs are mentoring tea farmers about how to best process their leaf. Some of the villages that had poor quality processing in 2013 improved greatly over the last year.
  • Prices are high almost everywhere. You can still get cheap teas in far flung Lincang, but for consumers who are demanding top tier quality teas from Yiwu or Menghai, there are very few bargains. Best to look to some aged teas if you are on a budget.
  • Roads continue to improve. The paved road to Laobanzhang is almost completed and they are building a paved road to Laoman’e. This bodes well for tea travelers and tourists, but is not good news for anyone anticipating a price collapse of of Laobanzhang old arbor tea.
  • Construction is everywhere. Villagers are upgrading from wooden homes to 5 story cement buildings with 20 rooms. One person in Laobanzhang was building a 20+ room guesthouse!
  • I am very excited about the teas I pressed in 2014!
Laomane Tea

Construction in Laoman’e. New homes being built everywhere.

All of my Spring cakes are pressed and on the way to the warehouse. They should be up on the site in the next week or two.

Share your thoughts and discuss on twitter or in the comments.

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9 Responses to “Reflections on Spring 2014 Puer Tea”

  1. shah8 May 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    Instant thought, how do you know Yulin is stuffed full of crap? The prices for them on Donghetea are outrageous….

    I’m not sure about how droughts makes tea better. 2010 was a drought year, and it wasn’t really anything like as good as 2009 (which was milder drought, I think?) and a bit less good than 2012.

    Is there a particular name area that should expect greatly improved cakes from the better processing?

    • TwoDog2 May 7, 2014 at 9:06 am #

      I know Yulin makes crap because I’ve been to several of their factories and talked to numerous farmers who sell them tea. There is no such thing as quality control when you work in the tens of tons and up range. (not with raw gushu anyway) There is no velvet rope at club Yulin.

      Not sure if the drought is the reason, just thought this years teas were very good.

      It is a person by person increase in quality. No one village is suddenly good, but certain people have gotten better.

  2. ian May 7, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    Thanks for the report, TwoDog! Makes sense about the lack of rain and concentrated flavor in the leaves, same thing happens with wine grapes. I’m looking forward to tasting your new selections!

    • TwoDog2 May 7, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      Not a problem, glad you enjoyed it! The new teas will be out soon

  3. Peter Stanik May 8, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    Thank you Paul for this great summary. Spending 2 months in tea mountains needs guts, time, effort, patience and first of all a great love to this amazing leaves transformed to pu-erh tea.

    • TwoDog2 May 8, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

      Thanks Peter, as usual I look forward to trying your Spring teas!

  4. Hobbes May 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    This article made me thirsty. That is all.

    With best wishes,

    Hobbes

    • TwoDog2 May 15, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

      The teas have all arrived and are being uploaded as i type

  5. Sean July 20, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Hi TwoDog2, i have bought quite some 2013 late spring Bu Lang pu er tea leaft (500years old tree) and would like to know the estimated current market price? Can you kindly email me?. Sorry if my post is irrelevant but i m in desperate to sell off as i m facing financial problems. Thank you.

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