Two 1980s 7542, Menghai vs CNNP
The sample on the right is from a vertical tasting of Menghai Tea Factory 7542 recipe organized by Origin Tea a number of years ago. Thanks to Kegon and Wooju for this sample. This tea underwent traditional Hong Kong storage, as evidenced by the frosty appearance of the dry leaf, the dark brown appearance and springy resilient texxture of the wet leaf, and the geosmin mineral taste and aroma. On the left we have a CNNP version of 7542 from the same era; It appears to have seen a very light HK Trad storage.
The compression of the left sample is very strong indeed, as tight as say a XG iron cake. The sample on the right has a clear geosmin aroma when dry, and the left sample has a much more subtle version of the same aroma.
On first steeping, L was slightly sweet and very light whereas R was strongly mineral. On second steeping, L was still quite light, and R was strongly geosmin and more concentrated in nutty flavour. L had a nice emergent fruity sweet aroma on third steeping. By the fourth steeping, the teas were actually quite similar, with L being a bit more lively and R being slightly thicker in texture.
On fifth steeping, R had a better mouthcoat and more oiliness but far more geosmin taste.
In the mid-steeps L was smooth, nutty and oily, while R had more geosmin, was thicker, and had a tiny bit more acidity in terms of puckering nature.
In the late steeps, the teas were pretty similar actually, generally smooth, slightly oily, and with a mild geosmin taste. L was a bit more lively in terms of flavours and bitterness, while R was thicker and more mineral. Overall these teas are sufficiently aged and processed such that they have very little bitterness and astringency. I have had these teas separately and L gives a good deal of heat and active energy, whereas R was more gentle and mellowing. Overall, I prefer the CNNP but if you want a true HK Trad experience, the MTF tea on the right obviously fits the bill.