I bought the 357g sample of this tea a few months back, wanting to get some feel for Menghai-area material that’s not a big factory production, something priced as a daily drinker, and old enough to make orange soup. I consider this a success on all counts.
This is a stone-pressed cake that comes apart pretty easily. I don’t feel competent to judge tree age by looking at leaves, but this one is surely missing a 0 at the end of the price to be really “gu shu.” When I inspect the spent leaf, I don’t see the prominent lateral venation that is supposed to be characteristic of old-tree material.
I’ve had 6 or 8 sessions with it so far, some in porcelain gaiwans, some in clay pots. It makes decently thick orange soup for 8 or so steeps, obviously depending on details of steep time. I don’t ordinarily keep a steep count, or indeed make a point of precisely timing steeps, but I did a session with bookeeping to see how it would work out on this one. With a leaf ratio of 6.5g/90ml, I did a 5s rinse and a steeping schedule of 5, 5, 10, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, 150, 210, 300s. The light compression of stone pressing makes it reasonable to use very short steeps in the beginning. Really only the first 11 steeps were worthwhile, but this meets my standards for daily drinker teas. The soup gradually lightens to a pale orange starting around #10.
This tea has a good aged feel for something only 11 years old, yet the taste is of clean dry storage with no hint of shicang. The spent leaf is almost entirely brown with very little trace of green. There is good huigan for several steeps starting with the 6th, using a steep schedule like the one given above, with some green astringency in the last few steeps.
By comparison with Dayi products of similar vintage, I believe I detect a characteristic Menghai origin here, with less complexity owing to the fact that this is single-mountain material and not a blend. A Dayi cake of this age would still have lots of room to improve, with lots of strong astringent green pucker at the end, but I think this one is close to as good as it will ever be. As I write this I am drinking a 2007 Dayi 8542 shortly after a session with the Pasha, and the Dayi is clearly superior tea. I do not regret buying the Pasha though, because it is exactly what I was paying for: raw puer that’s more aged than matured, good for 10 steeps, and priced for daily drinking.
I recommend this tea if you want something for drinking, and not for raving about steep counts.