The economy in Malaysia is terrible. Earlier in the year they brought in a 6% sales tax, which left restaurant owners, cabbies and other small business owners complaining about a fall off in trade. The Malaysian ringgit continued its slow and steady decline in value against the dollar, renminbi and pound sterling, making imports more expensive. Then the Chinese stock market and economy began to look increasingly shaky and the ringgit dropped sharply.
This is terrible news for Malaysian business owners. Times are getting more and more difficult for them.
In China, the puerh tea market has also taken a bit of a nosedive. Those speculating in big factory teas have watched the value of their investments plummet.
All this has put some pressure on the tea market, but also created some interesting opportunities for tea lovers.
We’ve spent the past couple of months hunting around in Malaysia and Fangcun tea market in Guangzhou. We had a clear goal in mind – to find tea that was unrecognised, underpriced and of exceptional quality. We tasted many teas, went down some fruitless paths, bargained hard and in the end, we’ve managed to secure stock of 3 aged puerh teas which we feel epitomise our goals.
Since the wrapper, provenance or story weren’t our goals with these teas, we’ve wrapped them with a simple plain wrapper, stamped with a Peacock. These are teas for tea lovers at a price that’s difficult to find in the market. Each one has its own charms and I can highly recommend them all.
Check them out, on our puerh tea page.
For the past few years, we’ve been comparing and contrasting Malaysian storage with tea storage in other areas. Our findings were a major factor in our decision to relocate to Malaysia last year. Since moving here, we’ve been more and more impressed by the vibrancy and clarity of Malaysian stored teas, along with the speed at which they transform and develop deep aged flavours.
To share this, we’ve decided to offer a 20% discount on a selection of our Malaysian stored teas, valid until the end of September. This is a one time only sale & some of these teas we won’t be able to restock. So this is an ideal opportunity for those who wish to stock up on these teas while they’re still available.
This offer is valid for full cakes only & discounts will be applied at checkout.
See here for a full list of the cakes available in this sale.
In 2012, we shipped a case of our Bulang Puer Tea directly from China to one of our friend’s warehouses in Malaysia. The rest of the tea, we shipped back to the UK and made available for sale.
Since moving to Malaysia, I’ve been meaning to collect this case from his warehouse and have just gotten around to it. The difference in the ageing is striking. Our UK stored cakes (2 years in the UK, 1 in Malaysia) are still quite green, with a high aroma and freshness in the taste. The Malaysian stored (3 years in Malaysia) cakes are already beginning to taste aged. It’s difficult to see in the pictures, but the taste is obviously very different. The greenness has gone, the leaves are a little browned. There’s very little aroma, but they’re thick, smooth and very nice to drink. It has given me a little extra confidence that our move was worthwhile!
Malaysian stored on the left, UK on the right
The Spring of 2015 was very interesting for us. We had some highs and lows and opened some very special doors for future productions. As I discussed in my previous post about pesticides in puerh tea, we had some setbacks and some shocks when we sent maocha for lab testing, but in the end we found some teas that we were very happy with and that passed also the lab tests.
I’ve had a few emails asking how many teas we pressed and when they’ll be made available, and I’m guessing many more of you are wondering the same, so I thought I’d answer the question here.
The magic number is….. four. Two of them I’ve made available online – the Huangshanshu 15 trees and the YunYa puerh tea. The other two will come later.
One is from Guafengzhai, which we’ve bought as maocha but didn’t get pressed in time before we left Yunnan. We hope to press it in September. The last, which we have pressed is another tea from YunYun. It’s a later harvest that has a little smoke in the flavour. We still have some cakes from there from last year in which the smoke has dissipated, so we decided to leave the new cakes to rest for a while before selling. The quality of the underlying tea is excellent and I’m very confident of it in the long term, so we’re not in a hurry to rush these cakes out the door.
Aside from these four teas, we made some very good contacts in Guafengzhai & Lincang who are growing chemical free old tree teas. I hope next Spring, we can include a line up of teas from them too.
We left Xishuangbanna quietly confident. We’d found a number of candidates, some of the best maocha samples we thought we’d found since we’ve been making tea. We tasted them and they were lovely. Feeling no real need to, but just seeking confirmation, we sent the first two off to the lab to be tested for agrochemicals. Today, we heard back. They both had pesticide residues.
Puerh tea farmer with pesticide can, coming home from work
Travelling in China wreaks havoc on our tastebuds. There’s chemicals in everything and they seem to sneak MSG into every other dish at restaurants, even if asked not to. We didn’t taste the chemicals in these teas and, believe me, we were trying. This kind of leaves me at a loss. We bought 1 kg of each of these teas, so I’ll look forward to retasting them once back on home ground & I guess we’ll have some nice teas for a 2015 pesticide tasting set!!! I’m still curious if we’ll be able to taste it at all, or whether this pesticide can evade our senses.
For those interested, both samples showed up with less than 0.03mg/kg of Cypermethrin, a toxin often used as an insecticide in agriculture, and in household ant and cockroach killer.
The EU Maximum residue limit for this chemical is 0.5mg/kg, so these teas are deemed safe enough to import and sell in the EU, and indeed it’s just a trace of this chemical found. But would you want to drink it? I don’t think I would. Just a quick read of the Wikipedia page and I don’t really want to sample these teas again.
So for those who tell you pesticide isn’t used on old trees. I say nonsense. I wonder what you’d find if you started to send a selection of high-end puerh teas off to a lab. I think you’d probably be shocked.
I kind of despair. It gets more and more difficult to find clean teas each year. Now we just have to send the rest of our candidates off for their lab test and keep our fingers crossed.