Tuesday, 28 July 2015

What is in the number 7542

You probably have heard of 7542, 8582, 7452, 7562, 7581, 7653, 7633, 7643, 8653, 8663, etc. The first 3 sets of numbers may sound familiar and the last few may be unheard of.

These are all puerh tea cakes made according to some recipes or formula. The first 2 set of numbers represent two very popular puerh green tea cakes while the third is a puerh cooked tea.

7542 green puerh made in 2003
After 1950, the making of puerh tea in China came under the control of the state. There were 3 state-run factories involved in the making and marketing of puerh tea. These are the Kunming Tea Factory, Menghai Tea factory and Xiaguan Tea factory. The management of these factories met and agreed to use certain set of numbers to represent the tea each factory produced. The last digit of the 4 numbers represent the factory the tea was made, the first 2 digits were the year and the 3rd digit was the grade of the tea leaves used.

The last digit 1 was used to represent Kunming Tea Factory, 2 for Menghai Tea Factory and 3 for Xiaguan Tea Factory. Hence 7542 puerh tea cake was used to mean that the tea was made in Menghai factory in 1975 using grade 4 tea leaves. 7581 tea cake meant the tea was made in the Kunming factory in 1975 using grade 8 tea leves and 7633 tea cake was made in the Xiaguan factory in 1976 using grade 3 tea leaves. This seemed to be a fantastic idea to distinguish puerh tea cakes produced in different factories. But the initial implementation of this method of identifying tea products met with confusion and inconsistencies.

Menghai Tea Factory
Today you will find the Menghai factory still makes puerh tea cakes using the label 7542 or rather follows the original recipe of 7542 to make the puerh tea cakes. Why?

The legendary 88 green cake is a 7542 cake
The reason is simple. The 7542 raw puerh tea cakes are well received by tea drinkers. Some of the earlier batches of 7542 tea cakes are very costly, like the 88 green cakes (7542 made in the late 80s) which are the darlings of the 7542 puerh cakes. Due to popular demand, the Menghai factory continues to churn out large quantity of 7542 puerh tea cakes. Eventually the 7542 cakes become the industry standard. Hence you will find  the 7542 tea cakes made in the 80s, 90s and 2000s as well. Tea collectors know that the 7542 tea cakes are hot favourite, so many stock up the tea cakes in anticipation of a price hike.After the 7542 tea cakes, the 8582 puerh green tea cakes are the next most popular raw puerh tea cakes. Collectors also start putting their money in the 8582 tea cakes. They also stock up large quantities of 8582 tea cakes waiting for the price to appreciate in the years to come. Now these numbers like 7542 and 8582 are more like recipes where tea factories follow in making their tea. They have lost the original intention of distinguishing the tea in terms of year of production, the factory and the grade of tea leaves used. Moreover the Kunming Tea factory ceased operation many years ago. With new tea enterprises emerging in the market, some will just use their trade marks or tea labels. Only Menghai and Xiaguan continue the tradition of using these well-known recipes to make tea.

7581 bricks made in Kunming Tea factory

Another famous tea is 7562, the bricks made before the end of cultural revolution in the 1970s. The factory later also produced little square puerh tea bricks (100g weight) following the 7562 recipe. These are tea worth collecting due to their remarkable quality.

No comments:

Post a Comment