An ambivert is an intermediate character between an extrovert and an introvert.  It is an easy character to relate to, having the best of both worlds in different situations. Sometimes we need to be quiet and sometimes we need to be assertive. Tea behaves this way too. I often use the term “ambivert stage” to describe Sheng Puer tea that is in the transition phase of changing from the vibrant young to the mellowed aged tea. This is one of the most exciting stage in the aging of Puer tea.

I have been following the aging process of sheng Puer for many years.  It is the real joy in tea appreciation. Most of the time when a new tea is vigourously tested and approved to be in my good book, I would procure a dozen or two pieces of the tea. From the day of purchase, I will drink the tea often and experience its’ aging process. I often drink them leisurely but every quarterly, I would be more rigorous and thorough in the tasting process to enhance my understanding of the tea.

A Sheng Puer should be tasted frequently to experience its aging process. It is like growing and maturing with it. At every stage of its aging process, it will reveal new personality, talk to you differently and sometimes surprises you. Sometimes it makes you smile and sometimes it challenged you to accept its’ new character. The guessing game of what it would turn out be next, is equally exciting. Even iconic tea like Lao Banzhang is still in the questionable stage and there is not certainty that it will be a great tea until proven so in future. That is the joy and beauty of keeping and aging tea, which is to grow with it. There is no point buying a Puer tea and hoping to enjoy it many years later or bet that it will be great when it is old. Just like life, we must enjoy the journey, not the destination.

Da Xue Shan 2002
Da Xue Shan 2002

At ambivert stage, the Sheng Puer is usually around about 10 years of age plus minus one or two years. It is the period of when the tea is approaching maturity, but still have its youthful vigor.

I recalled a special tea, a 2002 wild spring Da Xue Shan, 大雪山野生荼, which make my life so wonderful for many months when it reached 10 years of storage. The tea was changing its character every few days. It is at the stage of mellowing down to a smooth aged tea while still revealing its vigor and youthful vitality. The dynamism and  constant struggle between being introvert and extrovert is really so exciting. The taste, the texture, the aroma, the body and whole language of that tea changes and evolve in every few days. It was really a wonderful experience beyond description.

Da Xue Shan 2002
Da Xue Shan 2002

Eventually after that ambivert stage, the tea will mellowed down to something more constant but the complexity,  Qi  and the spiritual growth of the tea will continue further for many years.

Enjoy your tea from day one and grow with it so that you will understand and appreciate it even more.  Just like our children, we don’t put them in childcare and collect them only when they grew up. Grow with them and have a wonderful life journey with them. Likewise for your tea.

Ambivert stage is the most exciting stage in aging Puer tea. It is the stage when the tea changes dynamically over a short period of a few months, erratically  revealing all its personality, potential, vigour and vibrancy.  It is the most exciting and joyous period of enjoying the tea beyond any description.

Don’t miss it.

Tribute 貢


Finding an old or ancient tea is definitely determined solely by fate. On one fateful day, a tea collector brought a tong of early 1980s unopened Guǎng Yún Gòng Bǐng, 廣雲貢餅. I have found similar tea from similar era before offered by another collector but sadly it was badly stored and was kept exposed to hot and humid environment.  It tasted funny and bland and I  have to reject that tea with great reluctance. What a pity! 😦

Now, a totally sealed tong, unopened since early 1980s was presented to me (in 2013) to open it. What a great opportunity! 🙂

Early 1980s Guangyun Gong Beeng - Sealed tong
Early 1980s Guangyun Gong Beeng – Sealed tong

This tea is call Guǎng Yún Gòng Bǐng, 廣雲貢餅, which is made from tea leaves from Yunnan and Guangdong since the 1960s and the production continued to 1990s. The cakes from 1970s onwards are made solely from tea leaves from Guangdong. It is made using special recipe and the tea was so good that it can be used to pay tribute to the Emperor. That is why the word Tribute or Gòng 貢 is added to its name.

Of course those 1960s or 1970s ones are said to be special and superior but to have a perfectly stored tong of early 1980s tea right in front of you is really a blessed opportunity.

The tong was opened and the tea leaves were brewed.  The taste was really sensational and special… sweet, aromatic, full of flavour and has many of the character of a great tea…good yun… great Qi…captivating complexity and mesmerizing. Indeed it was a really special and wonderful experience.

The brew
The brew

The tea leaves are fresh, due to its well kept condition which allows it to age gracefully whilst keeping all its goodness intact. It is almost perfect in many ways.  The collector was kind enough to offer me a piece and it has been one of the precious tea in my collection since then.

Brewed tea leaves
Brewed tea leaves

This experience was one of the many opportunities for me to taste aged dry-sealed vs. exposed storage condition of the same tea.

I also have a few pieces of the same source 1970s Cultural Revolution Brick from 2 different collectors who also stored them differently for 4 decades, one exposed and the other, dry-sealed. The dry-sealed tea tasted so much better than the exposed one.

Storage for aging Puer has been a widely debatable topic but it would be a more fruitful debate if all parties have the experience of tasting decades old tea stored in different conditions.  Otherwise, it is just a debate of presumptive perceptions.

Many would agree that the choice on how we store and age Puer tea depends largely on the climatic conditions of the place we intend age the tea.  In the place where I aged the tea, the climate is constantly hot and humid around 31.1°C (88°F) , RH  83%, throughout the year.  After years of relentless of studies and experiment and also the tasting opportunities offered by different collectors on different storage methods,  my preference is definitely aging Puer tea in dry-sealed storage in this climatic condition.  This method appears to achieve what I wanted in aged old tea, i.e. hygienic, clean, smooth, sweet, mellow, captivating complexity whilst still preserving its original vigour, aroma, body and taste.

Nonetheless, we are all free to choose any storage method we perceived to be right. However, in whatever storage and aging method we choose for aging Puer tea, it is very important that we must monitor, taste and analyse the teas’ changing character throughout its’ aging process.

The only way to understand this is through constant and habitual due diligence to monitor the tea changing character over the years under different storage conditions. Don’t just store the tea and hope that it will be good in future. Follow its’ aging process and understand it. Taste other tea that has been stored in different storage conditions too.  There is no shortcut or other way apart from our own relentless pursuit and studies over a very long period of time.


Tea Astronomy

What does astronomy and iconic tea like Lao Banzhang, 老班章 ,  has in common?  Both has something to do with the sky, one is sky gazing and the other is sky-high price.

I really couldn’t understand how the price of new high quality Puer tea shot up so high and fast over the last few years.

In the year 2007-2009, I tasted the Lao Banzhang tea and like  the tea very much. It was very powerful tea,  complex in a nice way, full of flavors,  high aroma and full- bodied.  After 2009,  I thought the quality has dropped and stopped buying those later tea. I probably have enough of those 2007 to 2009 Lao Banzhang to last for a long time. I brewed the tea quite frequently to appreciate its changes throughout the years.

LBZ price for 375gm as of April 2014
LBZ price for 375gm as of April 2014

After that, the big publicity came and the tea industry focus on this tea and the price went up steadily until  recently (April 2014), I was really shocked to discover that this same piece of 2007 Lao Banzhang I bought is currently selling at US$4670 (29,000RMB)  for a 375gm piece. Gosh! This price insanity really cause some distraction to the joy of enjoying tea humbly.  Currently, a lot of other high quality teas are  also going through the same price launching pad.  Wow! A new form of astronomy.

2007 LBZ
2007 LBZ

Nevertheless,  to me a tea is still a tea and I will continue to brew this tea for enjoyment and also to share with my tea friends. It is good to cut off all the noises and focus on the  joy of appreciating a nice and enjoyable tea.

LBZ 2007
LBZ 2007

Care to join me for some tea astronomy ? i.e. enjoying good tea whilst gazing the sky. 🙂


Awakening old Yixing pots is usually an insanely exciting experience. Many years ago, I found some nice and very rare old Yixing pots of the 1970s. Enthusiastically, I poured boiling water to awaken it. I heard one of the worst sound in my life i.e. the sound of a cracking teapot. Not believing my ears and without thinking, I immediately continued to pour boiling water into another teapot and the same thing happen. In a day, I cracked two rare 1970s Yixing teapots and that experience really taught me a big lesson.

Box 2

For old Yixing teapots, e.g. 60s-80s pots or for unused old Yixing teapot, it is necessary to slowly wake it up after years of hibernation. After hibernating for a few decades, the pot could be too dry, crevices not settle in, or nooks and corners need to be ironed out.

Box 3

For initiating old teapot, gently clean the teapot with a soft brush and soak them in clean water in a large clean container for one or two days. After that, boil the teapot in clean water in a very clean large pot. Turn off the heat immediately when the water boils to prevent any damages to the teapot caused by rattling. NEVER BOIL A TEAPOT CONTINUOSLY AS THE RATTLING WILL DAMAGE THE TEAPOT. I usually go through this process a few times. After that I would boil the pot with tea leaves and let it sit for a day and the whole process may repeat again.

I would then use the teapot as a pitcher and pour brewed tea into it and use it as serving pitcher for a few  weeks before I set the teapot for brewing tea. For initial use of the teapot  for brewing tea, I would normally use lower temperature until I am confident that the hibernation period is over and the teapot has settled in and can handle high heat brewing.  To take care of the teapot, please refer to here.

Box 4

Most of the time, we will be insanely enthusiastic when we find a treasure but it is wise to be patience and slowly initiate them conscientiously. Always think of the consequences of being impatience then we will be naturally more careful.

Lesson Learned!