20 November, 2011

2006 Baichatang - Chenxiangpai "6137"

After our delightful exploration of 7542s through the ages, Apache was so generous as to give Lei and me this 2006 cake from Baichatang, a factory that I cannot recall coming across before.

2006 Baichatang

I've since had it on numerous occasions, the results of which I present today.  Oddly enough, I write from the "club room" in my professional institution in London, on the banks of the Thames.  There seems to be something odd about describing a pu'ercha while drinking a very English Darjeeling, in a typical London club-like setting.  The oak-panelled walls muffle the booming laughter from nearby bearded grandees, and my spoon vibrates quietly on my saucer.

2006 Baichatang

The beauty of this cake is quite obvious; the photographs above and below attempt to convey some of its chubby charms.  Perhaps the five-year-old darkness comes across in the images.  Fittingly, the name of the brand is "Chenxiangpai", roughly "aged aroma brand".

2006 Baichatang

This currently sells for a respectable £30 at Dragon Teahouse, which is an eBay shop with whom I have had nothing but good experiences. 

2006 Baichatang

The soup is a suitable orange.  I am a little concerned that a cake would be named "aged aroma" even while young, as if it has been cunningly adjusted such that it has had such an aroma from birth.  The scent of the leaves is sweet, but somewhat reminiscent of cakes that have experienced such interventions.

2006 Baichatang

..and yet the charcater in the mouth is quite a surprise: it is vivid, lively, and "tingling" on the tongue.  The body is packed with heavy camphor and spiced wood, and it bubbles and fizzes along as if it is very much alive.

Apache found this cake to be not quite to his tastes, but it suits me well.  I think that my dear wife may side with our guest on the matter, as she observed "Strong and bitter - not the kind that I enjoy."

It is very strong in the throat, and could do well over the years.  My diary at one points has "pungent, potent, and penetrating" which must surely be a compliment.

Many thanks to Apache for such a pleasant and lively gift.  Not a cake for refined palates, but perfect for mine.


Sébastien said...

According to you, what's the range of aging for this cake? My experience is that depending on the cake can age more or less, but, as for wine, it can be tasted.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your tasting notes and it's nice to know that you enjoy it. I come across some descriptions of this cake as smooth, little astringency ... I do wonder were they tasting the same tea? Interesting, you tasted camphor I don't remember that, but put aside it bitter taste, I think it does have something to offer. I hope the bitter taste will subside in years, but that might take decades.


Hobbes said...

Dear Sebastien,

I'm terribly sorry, but I'm afraid that I don't understand your question completely; if you're asking if I think the nominal age of this cake is correct, I have no reason to doubt it, because it tastes about five years old. If you mean to ask what is my expectation for its likely aging, I can imagine it would be strong enough to age well. While some weaker cakes will not last for long during the aging process (perhaps like some wines), this one should do well enough, I expect. Its liveliness was impressive.

All the best,


Hobbes said...

Dear Apache,

Thank you once again for this charming cake! It was very much "my thing" - aggressive, but very pleasant. As you wrote, I cannot imagine coming to the conclusion that this is free of astringency!

The bitter taste will be there some time, I suspect. :)