18 February, 2008

2000 Chen Guanghe Tang "Yiwu Yesheng"

Chen Guanghe Tang: tasty or over-hyped?

This is the oldest tea I've tried from Mr. Chen's brand, which makes it particularly interesting in comparison to those two chestnuts from 2006, the Yiwu Chawang and the Yiwu Yecha.

Unsurprisingly, given that I've not seen Chen Guanghe Tang teas for sale anywhere else, this comes from Houde. Many thanks to the generosity of TA for this sample.

It's cold in Blighty at the moment. Cold, cold, cold. Let's fire up the wood stove (ceramic hotplate), throw some logs on the fire (central heating), and get cosy with this fairly costly tea.

The day is slow, prompted by the hibernation instinct. A leisurely shave, breathing the humid air of the bathroom, towel around waist. Lather bowl floating in a sink of hot water. A great introduction to the slow pace of a good tea session. I'm probably biased in favour of the tea already, simply because of my calm and attentive mood.

The tobacco shop, breathing in mixed and varied leafy scents, that's where the leaves take me. I spend some time dwelling on this delectable aroma.

The rinsed leaves have a slightly suspicious scent of "dark fruits" that I associate with suspicious processing, attempted short-cuts to mature glory.

In the wenxiangbei, richness with an appealing smoke to them. With so much love for tobacco and smoke, I daily rue the fact that smoking is bad for one's health, or I would be puffing away with abandon, enjoying these fine scents. As my father drew on his wonderful old briar pipe during his visit this week-end, I confessed that because I cannot enjoy smoking, I enjoy my tobacco-tea as a surrogate.

The texture is thick and satisfying, much energy is present on the tongue, and the huigan is solid and pronounced. With flavours of clean, slightly smoky, malt and a finish of sweet, smooth old honey, it seems that Mr. Chen has made a good tea.

At the equivalent of $100/bing (this being a sample from a 250g brick), it is a touch expensive... but on the scale of Western prices, maybe not too bad.

It isn't "99 Green Big Tree", as the product description rather generously awards it, but does give a lot of pleasure. Thanks again, TA.

14 comments:

Brent said...

"Lather bowl floating in a sink of hot water. A great introduction to the slow pace of a good tea session."

You mean you're not using your scuttle?!

(Yes, I just learned that word, and have been looking for a place to use it. I feel like a kid who just learned how to curse in a foreign language, only without the vulgarity.)

Thanks again for another great review. It's also good to know there are others who mourn the unhealthiness of tobacco. :/

-Brent

Hobbes said...

Wise words!

Actually, my scuttle sits on the counter, filled with kettle-water, keeping my brush warm... the floating bowl is just for the lather. :)

Imagine if cigars and pipes were not unhealthy. Come ON, someone get inventing!


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

MarshalN said...

Isn't this far, far, far cheaper than, say, the M3T tea you tried a few days ago?

Hobbes said...

The M3T tea was approximately £80/$160 for a bing.

This is $100/bing, which I describe as "a touch expensive... but on the scale of Western prices, maybe not too bad".

$160 vs. $100... comme ci comme ca. The M3T was more immediately interesting, yet shortlived, while this Chen Guanghe Tang stays fair throughout, without reaching any exciting heights.

I think the real answer is not to buy either tea, but it was an education to try them.


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

MarshalN said...

Well, true enough, although one's brand new and the other one is not....

But the true answer is, indeed, probably not to buy either.

Hobbes said...

Having said that, remember that the M3T was a private production. I'm rather sentimental, and being Madame Tseng's own selection of leaves, and also the one to which she chose to put her name, makes it a little special. I imagine the same could be said of Mr. Chen and his teas, but the M3T feels little more personable.

I told you I was sentimental...


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Bill said...

I enjoyed this particular pu as well! It seems to a great energy effect.

Hobbes said...

Dear Bill,

I've had a few e-mails about this article, and it seems that the tea has become a favourite with many. You're in good company!


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

~ Phyll said...

Hello, D. It's been a while...

I'm catching up with past posts in your excellent blog. Tea aside, I can't help but notice your writing instrument. Could that be a Caran d'Ache pen pictured here?

I do own a few finer writing instruments (not too expensive ones), and I've always regarded the few Caran d'Ache I own as my favorites.

...just curious. Thanks.

Hobbes said...

Dear Phyll,

It's great to see the little frog return! I'll send you an e-mail separately, but to answer your immediate question - that's a Parker. I've been using them since I was in lower school, and there's something fine yet very reliable about them. Solid as rocks, yet smooth and inky. Like an inexpensive Bentley. I like the old factories when it comes to pens. Recommended!


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

~ Phyll said...

The yixing frog, sadly, had an accident and broke apart not longer than three weeks ago.

Ah, a Parker. I have fond memories growing up writing with an affordable Parker. Tsk, I lost the pen during an intercontinental move some 14 years ago.

Hobbes said...

Yixing Frog, we salute you!

Cathleen Wing Kee said...

Hi Hobbes,

Please can you tell me what kind of pen you are using in that photo with your notes? It is beautiful!! A friend has been looking for one like that but I haven't found one. Please let me know if you can. It's lovely!

Thanks!

Cat

Hobbes said...

It is a Parker silver-tip - my favourite since school. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes