08 June, 2011

2005 Yichanghao "Zhengpin"

My erstwhile chum, Yichanghao. Yet perhaps not entirely erst, for you keep on delivering solid, reliable treats at a very decent price.

Ladies and mentlegen, I give you the 2005 Zhengpin.

YCH Zhengpin

As far as Yichanghao goes, Jipin < Zhenpin < Jingpin < Zhengpin.  Despite drinking "YCH" whenever my grubby, clammy hands can grab a sample, I haven't had a great deal of Zhengpin, the flagship product.  By the time of the 2009 version, the recipe was taking a turn for the red, and yet cakes from ages past seem to rely less on cheeky pre-oxidation and more on a solid blend of decent leaves.

2005 Yichanghao Zhengpin

As shown above, the leaves are fragmented and dark - although certainly less fragmented than in the lesser recipes.  I am surprised by a distinct lack of aroma in the dry leaves.

This character, oddly enough, continues in the cup.  It cannot be said to have a significant density of flavour, and yet it does have a big, fat body and a dominant presence in the mouth.  It is a fascinating thing: light in character (being mainly pinewood), and yet thick, sweet, and satisfying.

2005 Yichanghao Zhengpin

This sample was generously provided by Daniel, of The Chinese Teashop of Vancouver.  In months past, I mentioned that I had queued up a half-dozen samples or so, only to find that the postage was a huge amount; this has since been remedied, and the store looks entirely appealing in its range and pricing (certainly on the Western scale).

This cake currently sells for an entirely reasonable $45.  There isn't a huge amount that one can find of any quality from 2005 for less than that price, and this does a very good job of keeping my attention throughout the session.

Caveat emptor: I am a confessed Yichanghao fanboy.  If you like their products to a lesser degree, then temper my enthusiasm at the appropriate heat.


Anonymous said...

If a tea is $45 dollars, then it has to be affirmatively good. Remember, $40-$60 or so is a big trap area for puerh consumers. There are many, many teas at or around $45, such as Houde's 2005 Jipin, DTH's Baichatang 2006s, EoT 2010 teas, Red Lantern Tea's better changtai productions, Jas-etea's Douji Jingmai, and the list goes on. Compared with what the market was like 6 months ago, I'd have said it was a terrible deal for how your review goes...


Hobbes said...

Hi, Shah,

Thanks for the comment. The $45 region is the "sweet spot" for selling tea, I agree. However, the teas that you list contain a lot of new cakes. There isn't much from 2005 or earlier that one can find for that money, and this is a pretty safe bet. :)



aneglakya said...

I have several early- to mid-2000's teas with a similar, surprisingly dark appearance to leaf and liquor. This fits into an historical continuum of craftsmanship, perhaps as a reaction to industrialized production and a commitment to hand crafting (at least for my cakes and their producer).

These teas are generally enjoyable, but lack endurance and complexity. How many steepings did you draw out of this sample? Any impressions of this tea within the context of pu'er development over the last decade or so?

charles said...


I noticed the picture of the cake you provided was of the 2005 "Jing-Pin" cake (from the Chinese Tea Shop website). Is the Zheng-Pin tea considered the better-quality of the two (both same year)?


Hobbes said...

Dear Aneglakya,

This one lasted maybe a dozen or so. It has been aged well - like most Yichanghao, it's tasty, solid, enjoyable, but sold at a good price because it's definite a major-label cake.

Dear Charles,

Well spotted! I have updated the image in light of your correction.

Zhengpin is the best of the range for Yichanghao, yes indeed.