02 June, 2007

2006 Changtai 2nd Pu'er Trade Fair

With the 2005 equivalent still in mind, it would be wise to look over the 2006. Thanks for the suggestion, Phyll. I've read that this is a blend created for the event by Chen Zhitong, the ubiquitous Mainland pu'er celebrity. The sample comes from Houde.

~12cl Caledonian Springs in 20cl shengpu pot; ~5g leaf; 1 rinse

Dry leaf:
First impressions indicate that this is not as decent as the 2005. The bing has a fair number of chopped leaves within it, and what whole leaves there are appear only in the thin outer coating. The inner leaves are markedly more compressed, forming an entire secondary stratum, and look much less pleasant. Its blended status is clear from the inclusion of a basis grade of rather dark leaves, as you can see. The few visible tips are likewise included in the outer layer, which I find a touch suspicious - I don't believe cakes should be dressed-up in such a way.

The aroma is sweet and young, with a hint of true character, though not the room-filling fragrance of the 2005.

5s, 5s, 7s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 60s:
This is one of those cakes where the majority has already been revealed by its dry leaves.

First impression: it's a dirty tea. There is a lot of detritus which navigates from pot to gongdaobei to wenxiangbei to pinmingbei. A hint of this is shown in the photograph.

The slightly charismatic aroma has carried over to the wenxiangbei, with a little candy, or treacle, at the end. This rapidly fades to mere warmth in subsequent infusions.

The first infusions are strong, but not outrageously so. There is a rich background flavour that sits in the nose, and stays there for the full duration. This is akin to the rich, leathery nose of the 2005, but a little less powerful. However, it is enduring, and lasted all the way to the last infusion.

I get the idea that the bitterness, staying as it does always within the bounds of acceptability, has been somewhat contrived: I suspect that Mr. Chen intended this tea to be drinkable now, but with a hint at aging potential. In that, he has not gone far wrong, but it lacks the honest power that I would like from a "real" (less overtly blended) cake. It feels a touch over-engineered. "...and on your left, the bitterness. And on your right, a little bit of flavour."

The feeling is generally quite sweet and high, and I was impressed with its patience. The huigan is quite simple, but pleasant enough. Later infusions show a little minty coolness. The texture is acceptable.

Wet leaves:
A token few large leaves look rather lonely in the melee of chopped leaves. The darkened basis leaves also stick out like sore thumbs, some of which look rather pre-fermented, being quite red. It's not a pretty sight, compared to the 2005.

Hard to fault, but not excelling at anything, I feel as if I am drinking the result of an experiment rather than an honest tea. The second edition of "The Art of Tea" notes that this 2006 was "better received" than the 2005. It is not so with me.

It is enjoyable, and has many merits, but is not up to its predecessor. The state of the rather dirty leaves makes me wonder if Mr. Chen was operating under tight budgetary constraints.


MarshalN said...

I seem to remember seeing a lot of bits and dusts flowing from gaiwan to fairness cup to drinking cup -- from the two Yiwus that were sold through Hou De.

I wonder why...

By the way, Chen is from Taiwan.

Vladimir Lukiyanov said...

Not quite as infamous as the "Yeh Cha" then.

That said I can't say I liked this tea. It was really rather unpleasant and unstable.


Hobbes said...


My samples of those two Yiwu (the Chen Guanghe Tang "Yecha" and "Chawang") came in my last parcel from Houde. It will be interesting to compare notes with the tasting results you produced a few months ago.


The yecha [wild tea] is the one I'm not holding out much hope for, of the two. I am very much looking forward to trying the chawang, but I recall that Guang has sold out of actual cakes. :)



MarshalN said...

Hobbes, your memory is obviously failing you


I drank the Chawang again yesterday. Better than last two times, but I still hold the opinion that there are better (or equal) teas out there for far less. Since your other half is in China right now, you do have access to such things.

Hobbes said...

Oh, that's good news - I tried to check, but, for some reason, I have not been able to connect with Houdeasianart.com for several days. In fact, I still can't, after trying to follow your link.

Unless the tea is truly outstanding, I won't be buying it, I suspect. The notes I have read don't make it a compelling purchase for the cost. I'll get around to tasting it soon. :)



~ Phyll said...

You might not want to read this (if you haven't, that is) before tasting your Chen Guang He Tang samples.

I re-tasted the 05 1st Expo cake. It's quite a good tea, I thought. The price also makes it an attractive buy.

Thanks for the excellent '06 (2nd Expo) review.

Hobbes said...

Dear Andrew,

That looks like the relevant thread on your blog! I read it a long time ago, and look forward to revisiting it after my session. Thanks for the link.

Houde is still unobtainable for me, in multiple buildings!



~ Phyll said...

Access to Houde has been off-limit for me too. It's not just you or that it's blocked by the GB gov't, in case you wonder if Houde has been filtered out of the UK cyberspace to protect the institution of High Tea and home-made scones.

Bad joke, as always.

Hobbes said...

I just loaded it in Internet Explorer! All of the other failed attempts, on various PCs, have been using Firefox. Guang must have inadvertantly changed something over the week-end to make it Firefox-unfriendly.



Anonymous said...

I concur. Can't load the page up with my Firefox browser, but ok with MSIE.