09 April, 2009

2005 Yongpinhao "Yiwu"

After recently reading an article on MarshalN's ever-excellent blog, I was reminded that I too haven't tried this tea for a long period of time, and that it would be good to copy over my notes for it. What better way to rediscover an old sample than with a new kettle, and a fresh palate?


I rather enjoyed the 2008 Lanxiang Guyun and the 2008 Lingbo Qingdai from the same producer - though I was a little concerned that those 2008 cakes were more expensive than this 2005 cake. This is usually an indication that Scott is (quite fairly) representing the fact that the older, cheaper tea isn't quite as good as its modernday equivalents.

It looks very pretty, and the stone-pressing is evident from the flatness of the leaves, and the looseness of the compression. I had to dampen the leaves in the chahe [dish for holding the leaves] before popping them into the teapot, so that they didn't break.

The leaves are a bit dark... perhaps darker than one would expect for three or four years of aging. The aroma is very prominent sweetness - but low, and complex. By now, I am highly suspicious!

2005 Yongpinhao Yiwu

The soup looks yellow/orange above, but in reality, it has a curious light-brown tint that is often a giveaway for some sort of baking or other interesting processing. (Quick addition after e-mail discussion: this cooked-baked feeling is a certain "dryness", approaching the characteristics of a roast, which is probably due to heavy shaqing - see notes below.)

The flavour from the first few infusions is as I remember it: plenty of unwelcome sourness in the middle, but with more interesting leathery, tobacco-like notes left behind in the nose. All over it is a sweet, baked flavour, in correspondence with that odd colour to the soup, and the darkness of the leaves. Scott mentions that it has been through the wok at its shaqing stage [kill-green, to stop it turning into wulong or hongcha], and its possible that it either imparted some of this character, or was performed too late such that it has been oxidised.

As the infusions wear on, that metallic sourness fades away, and the fruity, baked character remains. It definitely becomes more pleasant, and I notice that the tetsubin water is being particularly kind to it.

I associate the sweetness with that variety of pu'er that I usually (perhaps too unkindly) associate with "pu'er for people that don't like pu'er": the generically sweet, zero-bitterness pu'er produced by the Wenlong (here and here) or Yuan Nian companies.

It's nice after a while... but it's too flawed to buy, I believe. At $22, it's not too much, and priced fairly - but there's plenty of other pu'er out there.