fauna - 2001 (private order) 7542
Rich and complex, Fauna is a sheng pu-erh tea from 2001 that develops gracefully and naturally with time. The wild beauty of this famous blend quickly reveals itself to those who like to sit and sip.
Originally labeled as a 7542 Private Order, this mature sheng pu-erh represents one of the greatest achievements in terms of blended materials. Carefully thought through, the recipe shines on all fronts. It's got both strength and finesse, brings intensity to the first sips and a soothing calmness to the last, steeps forever, and offers a wide aromatic spectrum to discover. Undergrowth aromas, earthy tones, exotic wood nuances… each sip presents a rare and stretching complexity that trails in a long and spicy aftertaste.
The 7542 original recipe from Menghai Tea Factory is one of the most popular (and counterfeited) blend of pu-erh tea on the market. Developed in 1975 towards the end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, this recipe was not intended to produce any kind of high-end tea. Bourgeoisie and elitism were still under sanction at the time so tea production had to be geared for the mass-market. The material used in the blend is neither high grade nor coming from the most exceptional terroirs, but it's the way it ages that made it stand out from the rest. In Hong Kong more than anywhere else, this tea grew to almost cult status and as its price kept rising, so did the demand for it. Whoever could not get his or her hands on the original cakes from the Dayi factory had to try other channels for supply. That's when the "private orders" started appearing. The Menghai Tea Factory being constituted of one main factory (in Dayi) and many, many minor factories operating under its banner, private operations were more easily conducted from the smaller, more remote factories that could perhaps escape the eye of the communist government. Private production was in a grey zone at best, but that didn't stop buyers from trying to acquire such tea. Produced from the smaller "Menghai" factories and often purposely mislabeled or unlabeled, these 7542 orders earned the title of "private orders". And since their investing value was lower than the original product itself, they also commanded a lesser price.
In more practical terms, "private orders" 7542 teas have large promises to fulfill and no real way to guarantee that they will. The way we see it, they should not be taken for "disguised original 7542". In truth, quality control for such products was either absent or lackluster in the factory, and different labeling makes it impossible to prove their authenticity. In our opinion, they should be valued entirely from their taste quality. As such, this tea represents one of the best aged blends we've encountered. The recipe shows extraordinaire balance and 7542 or not, we believe it is well worth the experience.
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*domestic orders only (CA).