22 October, 2009

2008 Shuangyi "Bulang zhi Xing"

This is the last Hailanghao cake produced before the company went off the rails and started crashing into the fields, in my opinion. The 2009 cakes have entered the price-range of Xizihao, Douji, Chen Guanghetang, etc., but just don't have the quality to back up the prices.

This cake is from 2008, when prices and expectations were lower. I used to enjoy buying Hailanghao cakes for this reason - they weren't going to break the bank, and they were often good fun at the least. So, for me, this joint production between Hailanghao and the Shuangyi Tea Company marks the end of an era.

2008 Hailanghao Bulang Star
"Shuangyi" can be seen inside the yin-yang taiji symbol

As the cake above states, the leaves come from 2005, and it was pressed into bing product form in 2008. (It says the teas are from an "ancient mountain" - aren't all mountains fairly old?)

Actually, just looking at the cake, I can't see any mention of the Hailanghao brand or the Mingxiangyayuan tea factory. The product page at Yunnan Sourcing, where I bought this cake for around $24, indicates that it was pressed at the Shuangyi factory.

2008 Hailanghao Bulang Star
Howling mad!

It's not like English is an unspoken language in China these days, with every schoolchild over the age of 8 years having to study it. How such neifei as shown above still continue to be printed is mystifying. Sure, not everyone is reading Shakespearean sonnets, but still!

2008 Hailanghao Bulang Star

The cake's name is "Bulang zhi xing", literally "Bulang's Star". Perhaps this doesn't come out in the photograph above, but the leaves have a distinct red-brown hue to them, which is indicative of (you guessed it) some sort of interesting pre-shaqing oxidation or longer-than-required shaqing cooking.

2008 Hailanghao Bulang Star

The soup is dusky orange-yellow, and it has a normal sugariness about the aroma in the wenxiangbei. No surprises so far.

2008 Hailanghao Bulang Star
Heidu has since been banned from the lounge for committing domestic crimes

This is like a slightly more nutty, slightly more sour version of a modern Xiaguan special production. It has the same smokiness about it, it has the same tobacco in the finish, it has the same limited, constrained character as if it's teeth had been filed down, and it has a similarly decent thickness.

2008 Hailanghao Bulang Star

It's an inexpensive tea. If you're looking for a nutty version of Xiaguan, then this might suit you - but beware its sourness. After six infusions, it collapses into generic sweetness. It's very much an unassuming "daily" tea, and I'm secretly regretting being too hasty in my purchase of this cake.

Live and learn, I suppose!


tieguanyin said...

Hello Hobbes,

Great post despite the disappointment in the tea. In regards to Heidu, what domestic crimes do you speak of? Scratching the furniture? Over-senting the lounge space with his distinctive "wild" aroma?

Have a good one,


Terje said...

To Hobbes

I tried a sample of this a while back and it didn't impress me - but I gambled on a 2009 Yi Wu Zheng Shan nevertheless. This tea didn't bring anything more to the cup than less expensive sheng - it was what I call short. I'll put a sample of the 2009 Yi Wu on my shelf for you if you'd like to try it sometime.


Maitre_Tea said...

Scott recently included a small chunk of this as a free sample with my recent order, and I was unimpressed, but for reasons unknown since I'm still new to tasting pu'erh, but you managed to capture the frustration I have with it, especially the sourness.

It's a little disheartening to hear about Hai Lang Hao, since I was impressed with some of their earlier productions, in particular the 2007 Bu Lang (which you liked IIRC) and their 2004 Da Xue Shan. Maybe their early productions are nicer because they were made when they were still "humble." By the way, I seem to enjoy Bu Lang mountain cakes, do you have any recommendations?

Jason Witt said...

One of the reasons I want to only sample Puerhs in the future (when I finish with the larger amounts I've bought) is how bloggers are constantly confessing mistakes they've made in buying cakes. Just having a small amount of cakes will remedy all that. There's so much variety with Puerh that sticking with one too long is really doing an injustice. And it can never last as seasons pass anyway. --Teaternity

Anonymous said...

except that it ages....

Hobbes said...

Dear Alex,

Heidu's domestic crimes were of the variety involving bodily waste...

Dear Terje,

"Short" is a good description for it.

Dear Maitre_Tea,

Bulang cakes - the Nadacha and Yunnan Sourcing single-mountain cakes were decent this year. I've got a (hopefully) nice Douji Bulang cake coming from Taobao, so I'll keep you posted on that front.

Dear Jason,

I was humbled to see that you have left over 15 comments on this blog in the last few hours.

Regarding, "it can never last as seasons pass anyway", I must disagree. As the anonymous poster below you pointed out, one of the charms of pu'er is its evolution with age.



Maitre_Tea said...

I know that it's especially risky for beginners like me to be buying cakes off taobao, but their prices are so good it's hard to resist! What are some of the shops that you have found to be reliable in the past?

Jason Witt said...

Hobbes and Anonymous:
What I mean is a favorite raw, young Puerh isn't guaranteed the next year when harvests and processing are different. Of course if you age that tea, though, it might improve and be wonderful. --Teaternity

Anonymous said...

Hi from Dave...I have been to the Bulang mountain and stayed with the Bulang..The tea is picked and cured at a family house in the village.Its getting well known in China because of using no artificial fertilizers etc...Its a beautiful place with stunning views.Around 60k out of sipsonbanna.I stayed a week there and drank the tea everyday...Wonderful people in a wonderful place.....

Tom said...

I actually kind of like this tea, especially for the price and would gladly take some of it off your hands and alleviate your buyer's remorse.