Changtai Yichanghao cakes being one of my old favourite brands, which is always stable and often very good, I never turn down the opportunity to explore the back-catalogue of this reliable old firm. Special thanks to KC of Hong Kong for kindly introducing me to one of the company's earlier productions, this "jingpin" from 2000.
If modern Yichanghao can tend to be a little "reddened", older Yichanghao benefits from being a little more "raw". The typically long-leaved blend, shown above, contains stalks, fat leaves, and the odd rusty tip, the colour of which can only have been acquired through age, rather than early acceleration.
The above photograph probably tells us everything we need to know about this now eleven-year-old cake: it is heavy, nicely aged, and clean. The separation of body colour from its golden meniscus has begun.
The aroma is correspondingly sharp, woody, potent, and pine-like. Perhaps this was a Hong Kong-stored cake, because it has come on very well. Happily, it retains some its punch, and keeps the mouth watering throughout.
Oh, to have been buying tea in 2000. As it is, given my all-too-late appearance in the wide world of pu'ercha, I am more than satisfied to dip into the (early modern) history books with samples such as this, provided by generous chums such as KC.
This example brews on and on, gently fading into a sharp, woody background. I am fortunate to have time sufficient to enjoy this sample, having awoken early, before my weekend day's tasks begin.