29 June, 2007

2004 Changtai Yiwu

Thanks to Mike for this sample, which is a Houde purchase, where a bing sells for $35. The web-site describes this as a "gift" tea, produced by the Changtai Tea Factory in 2004 "to prepare the upgrading to Changtai Tea Manufacturing Group in 2005" - the meaning of which can be read in several different ways.

The Houde description quotes the neifei as indicating that it is a blend of old-plantation, big-leaf Yiwu with maocha from other areas.

Caledonian Springs @ 100C in 12cl young shengpu pot; ~5-6g leaf; 1 rinse

Dry leaf:
Attractively chunky leaves, in an apparently two-headed mixture of dark leaves and green leaves - perhaps evidence of the blend to which the neifei refers. Delicious pine-wood, mushroom-like scents that are very nearly, but not quite, fishy.

It's good to be home, seated on my little red cushion, behind the tea-tray, watching the tree-tops blowing in the distance. The colour of the blue sky, the green bushes, and the pink flowers visible from the window look almost unreal in their vividness, compared to the dust-and-stone of Baroque Turin.

3s, 5s, 9s, 12s, 20s, 60s, 45s:
A good orange-yellow colour, which is pretty and clean, gives an immediately positive first impression. The first sips from the first infusion are very good: rich, bass flavours are almost salty, making my mouth salivate. The travelling time to the throat is long, and the progression of gentle fern-like scents in the wenxiangbei are similarly unhurried.

This appears to be a tea to drink slowly; it would be a mistake to overlap the mouthfuls, or to not give the wenxiangbei at least 30s of attention.

The flavours are rich: fern and pine, so very plant-like. The stimulation of the salt-sensitive taste-buds is an interesting sensation, which I have previously described in other teas as "food-like".

These initial infusions appeal to my personal tastes.

Later infusions lose complexity, and the fern-and-salt interest fades into a different set of flavours: the simple tastes of dried fruits (apricot, mango) that remind me of the 2002 CNNP sample, kindly sent out by MarshalN last month.

Throughout the tea from beginning to end is a potent ku, which is really only evident at the back of the throat - a good place for it - where it provokes a mouthwatering huigan after the long progression to the throat is completed. Again, don't rush this tea.

Wet leaves:
All is revealed. There are three major components to this tea [pictured].

Some leaves, as noted from the dry sample, are hard and black. I suspect these give the low fern-and-salt interest that I experienced in the first infusions. The toughness of the leaves means that their contribution would not last too many infusions, and the bass, low range of flavours could easily be ascribed to these dark specimens.

Some leaves are green and strong. The continuous ku is probably derived from these youthful examples.

Some leaves are more tippy, and show the considerable redness of oxidation. Just like the 2002 CNNP [revised notes to follow], these give the tea that latter shallow fruitiness. Houde describes later infusions as "floral", and I suspect we're describing the same phenomenon.

Lovely to begin, becoming merely pleasant later on. The presence of the red-oxidation is cause for concern with its long-term storage prospects. Houde notes that "the flavour should improve after 3-5 years of storage", but the presence of the under-processed (kill-green stage) leaves causes me to respectfully disagree.

The opening infusions were very enjoyable, and I was nearly sold on this tea straight out. It is fortunate that I kept on to the latter infusions, which has caused me to revise my opinion, for which I cannot recommend buying this tea for the long-term.


Hobbes said...


Just looking back at your e-mail, I notice you said "Curious to hear what you think of the Changtai Yiwu..." - it sounds as if you had a mixed impression of it, too. Any thoughts?



shichangpu said...

I was, indeed, unsure of it at first--initially I had some problems with the longevity of the tea. I've played with it a bit, though, and have found it quite likeable. However, I've not kept notes, and haven't tasted it in a bit--perhaps I'll return to it tomorrow and see what's what.

I hope I gave you a sufficient sample for a second review? Perhaps you'll come back to it again...


shichangpu said...

oh, i forgot: i sent a sample to carla, who liked it very much. carla, if you're following this, care to chime in?

Hobbes said...

Hmm, yes - it's appealing to me (especially while the first stage is in effect), but I'm concerned about the fruity oxidation part. It was enough to convert me from "I'm definitely buying this" to "I'm probably not going to buy this".

I've got enough for a second attempt, thanks Mike! Xiaomao just came back to the city, too, so I can get a third opinion for you. :)

Thanks again, and toodlepip,


P.s. Looking forward to hearing what CB thinks of it, too.

shichangpu said...

i revisited this tea yesterday, and once again had a very pleasant experience of it. for me, later infusions where characterized by grass, wood, a bit of citrus.

also, there's quite a notable qi. cb commented on this as well. i found my upper back and shoulders warm and tingling after the first few infusions...

i'll look forward to more opinions!



Hobbes said...

I'll brew this one for Lei without giving her my opinion (assuming she hasn't read this post yet!) and see what she thinks, as an added independent witness for your consideration!



speakfreely said...

Hello! My notes on this tea don't comment on its storage potential, nor on its endurance (I was drinking it at work, so only the initial infusions really had my full attention). David notes "fern" in the wenxiangbei and "fern and pine" flavors, which was likely what I refered to as "wood sap" in my notes:

'04 YiWu ChangTai Sheng from HouDe: The
chunk you (Michael) sent shows a nice, medium compaction, and strong-looking young
leaf. 5s rinse, 5s inf.: In the beidixiang, the initial aroma is wood sap with a little smoke giving way quickly to a lingering sweetness. The liquor is a medium honey-color, and a little cloudy. The feel in the mouth seems watery at first, but a smoothness builds on the upper palate, later giving way to a thirsty dryness on the tongue. The outbreath brings a cool, metholated sensation in the back of the throat. There is Qi too, mostly of the upper-chakra, yin variety, i.e. a gentle "opening" effect, enhancing clarity of vision and gently draining the sinuses, bringing the breath up into the chest more. I'll keep
drinking this today - I suspect there is huigan in store, and perhaps even some floral hints will develop.

Overall, I'm plesantly surprized. I've read lots of negative reviews of ChangTai teas, have avoided the brand as a consequence, and this is the first one I've actually tried. I do note that this is a more specially selected blend than some of their other cakes, though. Still, it's worth giving ChangTai a second look.