Will of Teadrunk.org gave me two samples he ordered from the new vendor Tearoma.us: a 1996 "Wild" leaf tea brick and a 1999 8582. Oddly enough, I decided to brew the former Sunday morning, just before the LA Tea Affair group was scheduled to meet, and one of our number had a full cake of the 1999 8582 that he had purchased from Tearoma.
1996 YCTT Wild Tea Brick
This was the tea that appealed most to me when I browsed Tearoma's site. Appearing visibly aged and at an unbeatable price for its age, it seemed almost too good to be true.
The dry tea confirmed it had some age with a hit of the "mold smell" concomitant of 15 years of aging in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and this stinkiness was echoed in wafting steam from the brewed leaf.
This storage smell became a storage taste, the telltale "mold taste" ("mei wei"), along with the straw underpinnings of the "wild" variety leaf. It tasted salty at times, with some youth to the taste in a bitter herb/fennel note. The flavors were fleeting on the tongue, the feeling of the tea remaining on the tongue moreso and longer than the flavor.
The storage taste did not wash away with subsequent brewings; perhaps it will air out over time. This made for a "one note" experience. Not a bad tea, but not a great tea, worth about what they're charging. Perhaps it was just aged poorly or needs more time to air out. Wild leaf is darker to start with and given how wet the tea smells, I still expected darker brewed leaf. The emerald/purple leaves are common for the "wild" varietal.
Hobbes of The Half-Dipper already reviewed this tea, and rather than expand upon his review with my own writings, I'll simply leave it with "he's right" and some photos.
One thing I will add is that the "butteriness" he detected I also detected, and it's a marker I associate with "green tea pu'er". There is some green tea/poorly processed sheng pu'er in this blend; the real pu'er flavor kicked in after infusion 4 with longer steeps.
Please note the following signs as to the tea not being from 1999: the stainless, bright white neifei; the 100% fresh, bright, unfrayed ribbon; the neifei being added on later, as though the tea was pressed and marketed with different nei fei for different buyers; the bright green of the leaves; the bright yellow of the liquor. I've had 2003 teas from dry Kunming that look more aged.