23 September, 2011

2011 Yunzhiyuan "Gaoshanzhai"

So, we meet at last, 2011 productions from Yunnan Sourcing.  The circle is now complete.  

(Heavy breathing, extension of lightsabre.)

2011 Yunzhiyuan Gaoshanzhai

Scott's range this year have been announced via the brave new world of Google+ (primary differentiator: it's not Facebook).  Google+ is quite amusing, in that every photograph I take with my new, strange little telephone seems to get uploaded to Google+.  I learned this to my chagrin when I sneakily took a quick photograph of my wife washing some discrete items of clothing, which was subsequently uploaded automatically to The Google, causing much mirth (and punching of my face).

2011 Yunzhiyuan Gaoshanzhai

This is Scott's flagship product for this year, weighing in at a Hailanghao-trembling $105, although you do get a full bing for your money this year.  This cake is approximately double the price of the next cakes down the ladder, which are around $50.  Doing the arithmetic of quality, I wonder if this tea is double the quality of those cakes below it.  Such debates are dead-ends, and it just comes down to the tea, and whether you are happy to pay the price.

"Gaoshanzhai" is an imaginatively-named village near Yiwu city, which of course means "High Mountain Village".  This cake is made from a blend of the maocha obtained from two different family tea-gardens.  Perhaps Scott blended the two maocha for their complementary characteristics.

2011 Yunzhiyuan Gaoshanzhai

We're expecting big leaves, buttery scents, and yellow soup, and all three are present in abundance.  That said, the aroma, in particular, is surprising: instead of the usual butter, it opens with a fat flower-and-grain scent, which is very unusual for Yiwu, and very pleasant.  This slowly, slowly tumbles into the buttery finish presumably imparted by the wok.  

Tellingly, it stays big and interesting much longer than most teas' scents.

2011 Yunzhiyuan Gaoshanzhai

Even the first brew, which was the briefest flirtation of leaf and water, is lively, vibrant, cooling, and long.  It is a fruity variant of Yiwu, and yet has the solid base of dark-straw Yiwu that I love in, among others, my old friends, the 2006 Xingshunxiang "Yiwuzhengshan" and my all-time favourite Douji, the 2006 Douji Dayeqingbing.  That heaviness develops well with age, given the experience of my other cakes.

It is thick, mouth-watering, and reminds me of the good cakes from Essence of Tea.  It is more expensive than the latter, but, dare I say it, approximately the same in overall quality.

Finally, therefore, this powerful, busy, lively tea comes down to the mundane combat of price.  Is it too expensive?  For me, it is.  I like it very much, but I cannot justify paying the extra margin over the hand-made cakes I have acquired from other vendors, or from Yunnan Sourcing in previous years, which are around the same quality and have similar content.  This is, naturally, a decision for every individual, but the quality of the tea is unquestionable.


Anonymous said...

"reminds me of the good cakes from Essence of Tea. It is more expensive than the latter, but, dare I say it, approximately the same in overall quality.

EOT 2011 GFZ $279.00 per kilo (36 GBP per 200g)
YNS 2011 GSZ $262.50 per kilo (105 USD per 400g)

Actually the EOT is more expensive!!!

Hobbes said...

So it is! Thanks for that. The miniature nature of the EoT cake threw me a little.

I could recommend either, but be ready to pay for the privilege. :)

Guafengzhai is widely known as being one of the best Yiwu areas (often cited as being the best in the Beijing vendors that I talked with in my recent visit), and the prices reflect that.



tT said...


Thanks for the great review! Do you plan on reviewing any other 2011 YS Cakes?


Anonymous said...

Guafengzhai is the best of Yiwu Zhengshan, even a Guafengzhai tea harvested in June (rain water tea) got its greatness. I'm impressed.

JL at PuerhShop.com

Hobbes said...

Dear tT,

Yes - there are quite a few articles concerning the new YS cakes coming up!

Dear JL,

Agreed, one of my favourites of the Yiwu area, although it may be suffering something of the curse of Laobanzhang at the moment. ;)