Kale wrote: ↑
Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:25 pm
I think that the fundamental disagreement between us is about the meaning of "the best teas". You seem to be referring to a taste that is mostly popular in SEA, even more than in mainland China. Personally, I would prefer fresh RouGui from certain locations or farmers over a 30 years old SX that is highly sought after in SEA. These kinds of tea are indeed very hard to get in the west (besides vendors with connections in MY like EOT), but I also think that this is mostly because they are less popular and quite expensive. So, I would agree with you that teas that *you* like are indeed very hard to get in the west. However, I strongly disagree with the characterization of these teas as "the best teas". The best for you and your laoshi, perhaps, but still thats hardly enough in my view to claim that teas available to the west are "at best slightly above average". This claim is quite ridiculous on my view....
As i have actually drunk fresh Rou Gui with tea farmers in Wuyi Shan, on the two occasions i have been there in the 90's, and in tea houses there, and also in tea houses and shops ranging from Hong Kong to Singapore, for the past 26 years, at least. Therefore i do think i have a frame of reference there. The world of Yancha is enormous, and vast differences in taste through different roasting and oxidation levels, from the old style brutal roast teas one gets in Thailand, to the more modern almost greenish Yancha - which i really do not like, but which seem to get into fashion nowadays, there are also attempts of recreations of how traditional Yancha may have once tasted. Some people spend years in researching this, and experimenting, and this is my primary frame of refenence of what a really good Yancha should taste like.
And yes, i did have the great opportunity to drink many different aged Yancha (not all aged yancha are good, only ones where the base leaf is already good have the properties to age well), under proper guidance, which has been a wonderful experience.
So, yes, based on that exposure to so many different Yancha - i can quite clearly and confidently say that what i have tested in many different internet based shops oriented at the western market is at best a bit above average. Some few ones were better. Most, well, i have difficulties to drink. The honest, and knowledgaeble sellers have admitted to this, mostly said that they would not be able to sell the better qualities as most of their western customers would not be willing to pay. Other sellers simply have themselves not been able to get to taste such great teas, and lack themselves a frame of reference.
I would not call myself an expert of Yancha, but i have drunk Yancha with experts, and Yancha is my favourite Chinese tea, and has been for a long time. My knowledge and abilities have dropped, because it has been quite a while since i had the opportunity to drink Yancha with experts. But i still have enough experience to see and taste what i get from the shops. And it lacks compared to the good Yancha i had the opportunity to drink.