Dayi’s 7542 Pu Erh Reviewed: How Does It Age?
Today we’re revisiting the Dayi 7542 tea cake from 2011 that is available at puerhtea.eu. With it’s age near 10 years old, this is a particularly interesting cake to review, because 7542 cakes are really valued for its ability to age well.
As you can see in the picture above, the cake has aged nicely with its colour approaching that of a ripe pu erh. Its green colour has turned darker, and the buds have become golden orange in colour. Before evaluating the cake itself, we’ll first discuss a bit the background of this cake.
7542: Most Popular Blend in China
If you don’t know yet, the 7542 cake is without doubt the most popular blend in China. It was first launched by the Menghai tea factory in the 1970’s and produced every year ever since. The first two digits of the blend ’75’ actually stands for the year the blend was developed. The blend is likely tweaked year after year, making this possibly the most ‘optimized’ cake you can get today.
The third digit ‘4’ stands for the size of the leaves on a scale of 1-9. So the leaf material of this cake is fairly small. At last, the last digit ‘2’ stands for the Menghai Tea Factory.
So in summary this cake is made from a blend developed in 1975, made from fairly small 4th grade leaves from the Menghai factory.
The First Raw Cake On Should Buy
For those, just trying to get into (raw) pu erh tea, the 7542 cake is probably the first to buy. As many other tea factories always release cakes that mimics the 7542’s flavor, it has really become a benchmark for raw pu erhs.
That said, 7542 cakes generally don’t taste that good right of the press. The blend itself is really developed for medium to long term storage. The flavor will reach its potential in 3-10 years depending on storage conditions. For humid climates such as in South East Asia, just 3 years of aging will be enough, while in our case, the cake has aged slowly in dry storage.
Dayi 7542 Tasting
To prepare this tea we’re using cooked water at 90ºC. You may wonder, why not 100ºC? It’s true that 100ºC is kind of standard for raw pu erh, especially at this age. However, because the leaves of this cake are relatively small and delicate, the flavor would be extracted too fast, and the brew can turn too strong in a matter of seconds.
We’ve rinsed this tea just shortly for 5 seconds. That’s enough since the leaves are fully loosened up and as said before, the small leaves will release flavors fast. Thus, long rinsing times would be a waste.
For the 2-4 steep, we’re applying a steeping time of 15 seconds for 4 grams of tea in a 120ml porcelain gaiwan. The amount is for a single person brew, but you may increase this to 6 or 8 grams. It depends on how may sessions you aim for and with how many people you’re enjoying this tea.
Taste & Aroma
The flavor of tea is characterized by fruity and savory notes of orange skin. It has a medium to low body and it’s very soft in texture.
The sharp notes and bitterness has fully smoothened out, as you can expect from a almost 10 years old cake. Relative to other raw pu erhs it’s also very sweet. What we also notice is that it isn’t as earthy as other aged raws, and the overall taste profile comes closer to a delicate black tea (e.g. Yunnan Gold) than a ripe pu erh. Overall, this is an excellent and highly accessible cake. It will be loved by those that love black tea and ripe pu erh, and are starting to enter the realm of raw pu erh. It’s also perfect for raw pu erh drinkers, who want are looking for the perfect ‘daily drinker’.
The tea is at its best around steep 3-5 as the dryness in the first two steeps are fully gone, and its sweetness really shines through. The tea stays really delicious until steep 7 and then the flavor slowly becomes week. Not unexpected for smaller leaf cakes, but perhaps this the only weakness of this tea. Larger leaf pu erh cakes tend to last till around the 10th steep for 4 grams. Below a picture of the color of the tea at steep 6:
At last, let’s have a look at the wet tea leaves. It ranges from dark green to brown. The greenish leaves indicate that it may have some additional years of aging. So it would be good to revisit and evaluate the flavor after another 3 years.
Do you prefer to buy a fresh cake and storage it away for several years, or do you want one that’s ready to drink now? I think that’s the main consideration when getting a 7542. There are cakes that don’t age well, for those, getting an older cake is a safe choice. For the Dayi 7542, it will certainly age well under normal conditions. So if there’s a cake that you want to buy and store for the long-term, the Dayi 7542 is probably the best choice.
If you’ve a decent budget for several cakes, I recommend getting one that’s less than two years old, and buy another one that’s aged between 5-10 years.
Do you own a 7542 tea cake? From which year is it? And what are your experiences? Feel free to share in the comment section below!