27 February, 2009

2005 Hailanghao "Lincang Impression"

It's cold. How about some pu'er to warm the cockles of the heart?

(This 17th century phrase, if we are to believe all that we are told by my friends, is due to the Latin name of the heart's ventricles, cochlaea cordis. You can't argue with idiom!)

Winter at Home

Each time I read a reference to this tea, I accidentally / pathologically read "Lincang Impersonation". I also get Lincang and Lancang muddled up.

Lincang is north of Simao (the prefecture / diqu by Xishuangbanna and most of the familiar mountains). Lincang diqu contains Yongde, which is becoming a popular place to get tea.

Lancang (or "Mekong", referring to its famous river by another name) is a region of Simao diqu that contains Jingmai.

Though Chinese administrative definitions are complex, having been restructured by everyone from the dynasties through to Mao Zidong and beyond, the most recent definition I could find from the PRC is a three-layered definition, each layer comprising entities of similar importance:

1. Provinces (sheng - such as Yunnan) and Autonomous Regions (zizhiqu - such as Tibet)

2. Prefectures (diqu - such as Simao and Lincang) and Autonomous Prefectures (Zizhizhou - such as Xishaungbanna Dai)

3. Counties (xian - such as Yongde) and Autonomous Counties (zizhixian - such as Lancang)

Chinese administration isn't easy. As far as I can tell, the "autonomous" status is granted to minorities that are granted some sort of administrative independence. This ranges from local administrative independence as enjoyed by the likes of, for example, the Xishuangbanna Dai, up to that enjoyed by Tibet/Xizang and Hong Kong. Readers are invited to make up their own minds as to the nature of such independence.

2005 Hailanghao Lincang Impression

Have a good look at those lovely little leaves above. They're beauties, are they not? Small, plump, slightly furry, and so lightly compressed that you can separate them with the gentlest of efforts. I don't (yet) have a cake of this, and so cannot show you the wrapper, but it is as delightfully naive and unassuming as the original 2002 Hailanghao wrapper.

Underlining its rustic charms, I sift through the leaves and find great big sections of branch in the blend. Not just stalks, but wooden branches. Into the pot it all goes! If Hailanghao have been good enough to include them, then who am I to filter them out? (The same does not apply to cigarette butts.)

You know I like Hailanghao, hence this article, and the tiresome number of other articles on teas from the same producer. This one turned out a dirty orange colour (shown below). In 2005, things were a bit more rough-and-ready, a bit more crude, at Hailanghao, and that's fine by me.

2005 Hailanghao Lincang Impression

The aroma is excellent, consisting of sweet, food-like savoury scents. There's even hints of wildflowers in there, which makes for some pleasant complexity, before the lengxiang [cold scent] of treacle-like sweetness.

Gloopy. Viscous. Thick and chunky. This tea is a texture monster.

It took me a goodly number of infusions before I could place where I have had this before: it has the fruity chunkiness of purple-leaf teas from the Dehong area, which is the region next to Lincang. Bold, buxom, blustering. I like it muchly.

Happily enough, it becomes really rather uncompromising in later infusions, heading into more acidic, more bitter, but also more sweet, territory. This isn't an easy tea, but it's a solid and enjoyable wrestling match, man vs. leaf. There can be only one victor, and today it was me.

Fun, if you're up for a fight. I suspect there's something about pu'er enthusiasts that makes for a bit of stubborn pugilism. I can see myself buying a few of these for light-hearted sparring in future.


Arcane-Dissonance said...


I am so thankful I've never found anything like that in my cakes thus far... although I do own a cheap wuyi oolong from Puerh shop that contains at least one blade of grass every other sitting.

Thanks for the notes on Lancang vs. Lincang. I would have just assumed that it was a different spelling such as wulong and oolong.

Hobbes said...

Dear Dissonance,

Pretty rough, no? Chinese tea can be a dirty thing! I'm always amused to see people handling their pu'er with tongs, as if it were delicate. :)

You do get quite a bit of Lincang tea these days (especially Yongde, which is where this cake's leaves were grown), but less for Lancang. Well, less that are explicitly labelled "Lancang" - there's plenty of Jingmai!



tieguanyin said...

Hello Hobbes,

Good geographical information! Do you have any recommendations on finding a good map of Yunnan with all the prefectures, cities, etc,...?

Have a good tea,


Maitre_Tea said...

"If Hailanghao have been good enough to include them, then who am I to filter them out?"

I actually cracked open my sample of this from a recent order, and I found a small rock (at least I think it's a rock, and not a tooth). Maybe I should throw it in, just to give it that yancha yan-yun characteristic

Hobbes said...

Extra mineral content, a bonus!