09 September, 2009

Redness and the 2008 Douji "Bulangshanyun"

When will I ever learn?

2008 Douji Bulangshanyun
It has a pretty wrapper, at least

If a cake is being sold without a sample, beware. It's like a film coming out without being shown to critics beforehand. Such films, their producers reason, would assumedly get such bad reviews that it would harm the box office takings. So, you only get pre-screenings of films that the producers are confident will do well - or, at least, will not be ubiquitously awful. It's the same with tea - if a cake doesn't have samples, it's either too cheap, too dreadful, or both.

2008 Douji Bulangshanyun
On the plus side, the Douji rear labels are always handy for remembering the cake's details

If a sample was available of this cake ($30, Puerh Shop), I would have not finished the sample and never dreamed of buying a cake. Being the complete twonk that I am, I thought "Ooh, Douji. No sample? Never mind! What's the worse that can happen?"

I'm such a putz.

2008 Douji Bulangshanyun
Uh-oh: it's a bit brownish-red for a 1-year cake

I'm a big fan of Douji. They can make superbly complex, enjoyable pu'er. They also have a number of "padding" cakes at the lower end of their price range. For whatever reason, Western-oriented vendors only seem to sell these lower-end Douji cakes each year. That said, the mid- and high-end Douji cakes sell for about the same amount of money in RMB that we see the lower-end cakes sold for in USD. I won't go down that line of reasoning any further!

2008 Douji Bulangshanyun
The aroma is equally troubling, being reminscent of cooked cereal

The leaves of this cake are concerning: a large proportion of the blend is brown/red, with a smaller proportion of standard black/dark-green leaves. The aroma is also concerning: it's a bit "baked cereal".

2008 Douji Bulangshanyun
Well darn it. Orange tea.

If your 1-2 year pu'er is orange, and you're not drinking a Xiaguan special production or an 0622, then you should be worried.

This tea is orange, and it's neither Xiaguan nor 0622, so I'm worried.

Quelle surprise, it tastes as if it's had its claws cut off and its teeth filed down. As always with these orange teas, it's consequently impossible to overbrew. There's nothing in it. The flavour is constrained, compact, and tightly limited. It excels in no direction, but delivers flat, sweet, slightly cereal-like characteristics throughout.

2008 Douji Bulangshanyun
Humbug - cooked to death. Too much shaqing? Left too long before shaqing? Both?

I have a friend who used to refer to things that he didn't like as being "the suck".

This 2008 Douji "Bulangshanyun" is the proverbial suck.

And I'm the sucker.


Anonymous said...

Isn't these modern day tweaking of the processes another evolution of Puerh just like what happened in the 60's and early 70's which evolved the standard wo dui process. In these early days, some of the tweakings will be totally off while others are more favourable.

My concern would be the long term storage capability of all these new Puerh; more so for the Xiaguan and Menghai which most of us buy these days. Will the Puerh become more hongcha and oolong like?

speakfreely said...

Hi there! A motley bunch of fraternity boys just showed up in my office: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon! Looking forward to seeing whether any of them are well-mannered. Thanks!

Hobbes said...

Dear Anonymous,

Quite right. As I mentioned in the article, and in the Menghai Zaochun article, I remain slightly skeptical about the aging prospects of these tweaked cakes - but there's only one way to find out. :)

Dear Carla,

Three cheers for the arrival of the samples! Please enjoy them at your leisure - I'll put up some pages to discuss them when everyone's had a chance to spend some time with them.



MarshalN said...

I think any tea that calls itself "impressions", "taste of X", and the like are usually somewhat suspect. When the packaging does not actually say Douji from the factory that made it famous, more so. This is much like if BMW comes out with a car that is called "Impressions of the 3 Series" and doesn't actually put the BMW moniker on the car -- you can guess the results if you were expecting a BMW.

Unfortunate that some vendors don't always disclose the finer details of such cakes. It's made by the same factory as the one that makes Douji all right, but that's like saying a Mercedes-Benz and a Chrysler are the same car (or were, anyway).

Marlena said...

I'm not a pu er person, so I can't really comment. But I like the bowl in the last picture - the brown one with the white interior and a pouring lip. What is it called and where would I look for one? Thanks, Marlena

sp1key said...

Redness/Orange broth could be caused by much exposure to light although I don't think its evident in your case. I guess this batch of tea would require some expertly controlled wet storage to balance out its body.

I've had the same experience with some pu before and just yesterday, a session of 80s cnnp '7532' sheng which well... suck is the word.

五行雲子 said...

Little bit of an odd request perhaps, but would you think me mad for asking of a sample of this pu erh?

As a newbie, I'm just at the stage of trying as many different teas as possible, both good and bad.

Am I bonkers?.. hmmm...

Unknown said...

It looks like some Hagi teaware, Marlena - look at artisticnippon.com But let Hobbes answer you because I might be mistaken.

MarshalN said...

I don't think the last brown bowl is hagi. The cup under it that it's sitting on is Hagi... but that's a different cup, methinks.

I've seen that kind of cup in China -- used for pouring dry tea into pots.

Hobbes said...

Dear Marshaln,

You're absolutely right, I didn't notice the lack of "Douji" markings on the front - well well!

Dear Kenny,

Sorry to hear about the CNNP. Heaven knows if wet storage could resurrect this tea, which has been hollowed out and entirely neutered - there's not much left to age!

Dear Wuxing Yunzi,

Believe me, you don't want to waste your time drinking this tea. ;)

Dear Terje,

MarshalN is right - the bowl you mention is my "cha he" [tea lotus], used for holding tea leaves. It has the name "Lesseps", in honour of the kindly soul who bought it for me, from a shop in California!

(The bowl underneath is my hagiyaki matcha bowl, by Seigan. See articles passim.)

Toodlepip all,


Unknown said...

Ah! I didn't get that she ment the cha he on top - I thought she refered to the bowl beneath. I have a similar hagi item bought at artisticnippon - wonderful piece, but expensive.

Hobbes said...

Mine was from Magokorodo (see article here), but I did get my tetsubin from Artistic Nippon. I can heartily recommend both companies.



Anonymous said...

Right now I'm convinced that I want nothing but samples of Pu-erh indefinitely. I wouldn't want to buy larger amounts of any of them but just always meet new ones like a socialite hungering ever for new contacts. Maybe I could really do this. Maybe I could commit to only samples. --Teaternity