09 March, 2012

2008 Chenshenghao "Bulangshan"

Chenshenghao is nominally one of the favourite brands of the owner of Red Lantern Tea, who is a rather accomplished (professional?) photographer by the name of Jongky.  

I found the 2008 Nannuo and the 2008 Yiwu to be "red" cakes, not to my taste.  Thus, this sample was relegated to the nether-regions of the location used to store my samples: n-dimensional Sample-Space (which is actually a reproducing kernel Hilbert space, for those keeping track at home).

The time for its redemption from Sample Space has come.  We fire up the kettle.

2008 Chenshenghao Bulang

The wrapper, pictured below, adheres to the school of "call it Menghai and perhaps people will buy it": writ large over the top is "Xishuangbanna Menghai Qizibing".

2008 Chenshenghao Bulang

Jongky's photographic skills are such that I prefer his shot of the leaves, in preference of my own pre-dawn photography:

2008 Chenshenghao Bulang

The leaves are, as in the photograph, large and well-maintained.  My sample was less tippy than might be expected from the image shown above, but it is possible that the surface of the cake has a little more "hair" than the interior.  Either is fine, because I'm not obsessive about including white tips - in fact, white tip cakes can be sweet, easy-going, rather weak affairs, leading me to prefer "real" leaves.  Naturally, a range of all leaves leads to a good range of characteristics.

2008 Chenshenghao Bulang

I was pleasantly surprised by this cake, given my poor experiences of its two cousins from 2008.  The body is smooth, and there is a heavy sweetness present.

2008 Chenshenghao Bulang

It is a cake that develops momentum, which is unusual these days: the kuwei [good bitterness] is not strong at the outset, but builds during subsequent infusions.  This suggests that the leaves are slowly giving up their contents, and their continued endurance suggests that they have quite a lot of contents to give.

I rather like it: reticent, sweet, but present and interesting.  It rewards patient attention, and leaves the mouth and throat feeling most pleasant.  This is one to drink with a straight back and an attentive mind.

2008 Chenshenghao Bulang

If pushed hard, the husky finish and some plantation "green" becomes apparent.  However, the cooling sensation suggests that there is at least a small proportion of old-tree leaves in the blend.  $40 seems a touch much for a good, but basic, cake.  It is available for 180 RMB ($28) via Taobaowang, but, after all of the subsidiary fees, it would probably work out about the same to buy it from Red Lantern.

It didn't strike me as a potent Bulangshan cake, but it was a good session.  A solid mainstream cake, if unexalted.  It knocks the socks off its two 2008 cousins.

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