A Tiny Lot of Something New: Young Sheng and Old Sheng

Newsletter Archive Feb. 4, 2022

A cup of Laowu sheng puer nestled in some juniper greens next to a box of dry tea leaves.
Brewing up some Laowu sheng puer.

This weekend brings a bit of something new (and kinda old.) The Laowushan Sheng Puer micro-lot from 2009 just got added to our store. This tiny gem of a sheng puer is woodsy and sweet, showing some dark sophistication from twelve years of aging in Pu’er City. Alongside it, we’re featuring two puer benchmarks, the Jinxiu Longzhu (Big Tree Dragon Ball) 2020 and Gongting (Palace Puer) 2016 100g cakes.

Drinking an old tea invites reminiscing and 2009 is a few memories from Yunnan.

Not many people know this, but the old Jinggu puer tea factory has its own basketball court and its factory team is a fierce competitor. When we showed up to the factory that year, we were immediately challenged to hoops in the name of Chinese-American friendship. We were jet-lagged and travel weary but still managed to save face thanks to Tim Bowen, Seven Cups’ own web developer, who was traveling with us that spring. Tim tapped into his roots as a hockey player and organized our court hustle well enough for us to eke out a win. The competitive factory team members were also gracious hosts. Maybe they were taking it easy on us? Either way, they kindly rewarded all our sweat on the court with hefty kilogram cakes of tea.

Six people holding large puer cakes on the court in front of a red banner.
The Seven Cups tour team with their 1-kilo puer cakes in front of a banner reading “Jinggu Tea Factory Chinese-American Friendship Basketball Match.”

Tim actually made an online diary of his time in Yunnan that year, which you can still read and view his pictures. Twelve years on, Tim’s diary feels like a time capsule of Yunnan in the aughts. At that time, a bubble of speculative investments in puer tea had come and gone, but the prominence of puer tea as an actual beverage was there to stay. Sustained interest (and money) for chasing micro-origins, old trees, and skilled processing was just kicking off. At the same time, infrastructure was then being built in Yunnan, making the origin more accessible than it ever was before.

Whether it be by old tea or old photos, we hope you’ll join us for a trip back to 2009.

A smiling man passing a large round puer cake to Austin, surrounded by other factory team members and tea tour members.
Austin (right) and members of Seven Cups’ 2009 Tea Tour being gifted with 1 kilo puer cakes from the Jinggu factory basketball team.