|This is the photo of the controversial 88 sheng cake posted on Gao's blog|
But, there is always time for gossips!
This time it's about "88 sheng" (or "88 qing", "88 green cake"). And this is probably the biggest puerh gossip of the year. I feel people don't talk much about 88 sheng anymore, and think it's *probably* because there have been more and more high quality dry-stored puerh available, and today, many puerh drinkers have dryer tastes than 88 sheng could offer. But anyway, 88 sheng is a legend, and has got to be in the spotlight again and again.
I don't use Chinese counterparts of facebook, twitter or other networks (too many accounts to manage...) So I don't actively follow all the gossips surrounding this issue (more and more are being developed these days...) But here is the core story.
Disclaimer - No personal comments. Purely hearsay... I'm not legally liable for following gossips... :-p
Short version -
In a small tea gathering, Gao Jianfei (a Beijing-based tea celebrity) and a group of tea drinkers compared 88 sheng from Gao's collection and 88 Sheng offered by 1510tea (a commercial tea website in China) in a lottery event that was directly purchased from Chen Guoyi (a Hong Kong-based tea celebrity, the original owner of "88 sheng") at a price of 50k rmb/$8k. According to Gao and some other participants of the tea session, the two 88 sheng tasted and looked completely differently, and the 88 sheng from 1510tea significantly inferior. Afterwards, Gao openly denounced the 88 sheng from 1510tea as a fake. Various tea drinkers who participated the tea comparison session wrote informal passages online to back up Gao's claim. 1510tea wrote to Chen Guoyi to ask for his opinion. The representative of Chen wrote back and pointed out that "Nobody has the right to claim Chen Guoyi's 88 sheng is fake, because Chen is the one who gave 88 sheng its name". 1510tea urges Gao to give open apology. They also claim to reserve the right to sue Gao. So far Gao insists his original claim that 1510tea's 88 sheng is a fake.
Longer versions (google translate required) -
I will put this source the first, because this is from a well-seasoned tea drinker at CYQX (one of the largest Chinese online tea forums), and in my opinion, a low-key and reliable person. Unlike the main characters involved in the gossips, this tea drinker doesn't seem to have any conflict of interests in this issue. He showed some (very casual) photos of the two 88 shengs and described the tea session from his point of view.
Gao Jianfei's microblog: http://www.weibo.com/u/1633531455 (login required)
1510tea's official webpage about their communication with Chen Guoyi:
1510tea's open letter to Gao and description of the source of their 88 sheng: