04 January, 2008

1990 CNNP "Jiang Cheng" Brick

Cold rain - not the brutal stuff that commands respect, but the annoying, drizzling, clammy kind. The perfect day to stay indoors and explore an old tea.

Copious thanks to Norpel for this sample; it's from a 300g brick sold at Teamasters for $175 [pictured].

I'm not sure what the "Jiang Cheng" means as it doesn't appear on the wrapper - we have "Yunnan Yesheng ["wild"] Tea Brick, CNNP". Wild!

As you can see above, the leaves are small (SE describes them as "grade 1" size) and very dark, with a robust compression. A vividly sweet shengpu aroma indicates that this has been aged very well. Today, a small Hanwu ["Han-dynasty ceramic"] pot, pictured below, dedicated to older teas.

Unlike the more contemporary teas that I have been drinking lately, this one is bold and clear throughout its beidixiang [the initial cup-bottom scent]. That crispy clear aroma from the dry leaves shines throughout.

As shown above, the soup is a deep amber, with a definite golden ring at the meniscus that some take to be a mark of quality.

First into the mouth, the sensation of buzzing lips comes long before any flavour has had a chance to register. This is a particularly fine tea as far as chaqi goes, leaving the mouth menthol-cool afterwards, in accordance with Chinese medicine's designation as shengpu as a "cold" drink.

The flavour itself is rather simple: sweet sandalwood, a very quiet huigan, finished by a pleasant shicang [wet storehouse] yunxiang in the nose. The storage is really top notch: it is clean and fresh, and the chaqi has become bold.

Fine as this tea is, it strikes me as a bit monotonic: the sweet, high flavour is simple, and each cup is much like the last. This is a tea to drink for the sensations it generates in the body, rather than for enjoyment of flavour or aroma. I deliberately overbrewed the tea on occasion in an attempt to get something complex out of it, but this was plumbing for depths that seem not to exist. It didn't really strike me as "wild".

A fine experience of a well-aged tea; thanks again to Norpel for this excellent companion on a cold, wet day.

P.s. Unless I'm very much mistaken, this looks to be The Half-Dipper's century-and-a-half!


In the interests of good scholarship, an article on this tea can be found in the oak-panelled interior of Chadao, penned by Geraldo. Happily, my notes appear to be in agreement, and I must quote a rather fine passage as a most suitable epithet:
"On the excellence scale, I would rate it very high.
On the fascination scale, I would not rate it quite so high."


corax said...

> Unless I'm very much
> mistaken, this looks
> to be The Half-Dipper's
> century-and-a-half!

congratulations hobbes! very well done indeed. here's to the next 150, and beyond!

-- corax

Hobbes said...

That's mighty kind of you, sir, thanks indeed!



Michel said...

I share your description. started today with it.
It's not the 'most fasinating' or the 'most exquisit' , never the less is has a very good taste, it is clean and with a strong but plesant chi.

Morever it is available! and affordable wich is rarely the case for old sheng. .

This pu I think is a good standard that most pu ehr lovers will agree with and enjoy.

Hobbes said...

Happy New Year, Monsieur - are you celebrating in Cornwall?

The tea was so very medicinal in its qi; I can imagine that this sort of tea would have made a fine daily tonic, back in the days when shengpu was trivially cheap.

I did experience a fair "tea high" on this one, it has to be said!



Michel said...

Hey Hobbs,

well new year was in bed at 10, Kids knocked me out.

This tea, I visit once a week, quite friendly but still too pricy for a daily 'high'.

Have you tryed the dragon yet? or do you know the Dehong brick or the Yong De 400g? those are my staple.. email me your details if you like .

Hobbes said...

Salut, Michel,

I've not tried the Dragon of Bulang just yet, as Christmas has obstructed my ordering of new teas, which I shall remedy promptly!

The Dehong brick (2005) was delicious, and I've ordered a brick of my own; the Yong De... I'm having trouble locating that one. I'll send you an e-mail. :)