18 November, 2009

2004 Yichanghao "Yiwu Zhengpin"

Thanks to KC for buying this pair of cakes for me by proxy in HK.  One is gancang [dry storage], the other shicang [wet storage], making for an interesting comparison.  KC settled on the 2004 Zhengpin after comparative sessions with Yichanghao from other years.  Good Yichanghao can be very impressive, and I am very grateful to KC for giving me the opportunity to extend my experience with Changtai's famous brand.

The cakes, shown below, look sumptuous.  The compression is loose, which suffered somewhat from being packed in nothing more than an envelope (!), but they're mostly fine.  The leaves are dark, and perhaps already a touch red.  They have the aroma of a little age, in correspondence with their 5-year maturity.

Pictured below, in a white-balance nightmare, the gancang cake (lowermost of the two cakes below) can be seen to be darker and richer than the shicang cake (uppermost of the two cakes below), while the latter is almost grey.

What sets these cakes apart is, apparently, the presence of the little blue stamp on the neifei:

KC notes that these cakes are made from 2002 and 2003 maocha.  As may be seen below, many of the leaves are long and whole.  Both cakes are very desirable, it must be said.

Following the dry aroma, the soup is a solid orange in both cases.  Unsurprisingly, the shicang version is a darker, deeper orange.  Both have an aroma of sweet, woody, vanilla, but this is more advanced in the shicang version - and, of course, the shicang version has plenty of wet flintiness about it, which I rather like anyway.  With my eclectic pu'er tastes, I'm just as happy in the gancang areas of Beijing and Kunming, or the shicang-favouring Hong Kong.

Interestingly enough, the shicang cake is almost a text-book comparison with the gancang cake: the wet version is heavier and "more aged", and yet it runs out much faster.  The dry version is sweeter, a touch thinner, but marches on for many more infusions.

I enjoyed both of these cakes tremendously - thanks again to KC for finding them for me.  I have since found equivalents for an excellent price on Taobao, and look forward to stocking up the shelves a little.

Buy more Yichanghao, pu'er fans of the world!

April, 2014

I have several of these cakes, kindly bought for me by KC of HK. At 4.30 a.m., after changing a toddler's wet bedding and sending him back to sleep, a strong tea is very appealing.

Malty, red, and rich: this Changtai is as I remember it. There is an "old-fashioned" Yiwushan feeling to this tea. I am calmed and comforted - the latter most of all. The throat resounds with characteristics of herbal medicine. There is sweetness, but it appears after the medicinal base. It is smooth and quite thick in its texture, which is another sign of decent quality. I am pleased by this heavy, orange tea.


Maitre_Tea said...

besides the blue stamp, are there any other differences between this and the '04 Changtai Yiwu you reviewed from Hou De a while back?

I remember you were less impressed with that, so if the versions are the same in terms of material and processing...it's amazing to see what a few years of storage can do to a tea!

Hobbes said...

Dear Maitre-Tea,

I understand that the blue mark on the neifei indicates that it was a special production for a certain collector, hence the difference in leaf. Very tasty, nonetheless. :)



Anonymous said...

It was very interesting for me to read that post. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

Unknown said...

where can I buy Yichanghao?

Great post, by the way! Liked the comparison very much - it's educational.


Diego said...

Dear Hobbes,

How do you buy products in Taobao from England? I thought this site was only for the Chinese market (i.e. need to have a bank account in China, shipping only in China etc.).

Thanks and regards,


Hobbes said...

Dear Terje,

In terms of Western-oriented vendors, I've seen Yichanghao / Changtai cakes at Houde sometimes.

Dear Diego,

Buying directly from Taobao requires Alipay - a Paypal-style system - but this requires a Chinese bank account.

You can buy indirectly via handlers such as Panli or Taobaonow.



Anonymous said...

From what you've described here, I might prefer dry storage if it's a comparison between two such similar cakes. Maybe I'd prefer the sweeter, thinner, kind that keeps on giving.

Anonymous said...

Glad to read your review. I have the luck to lay my hands on both versions of this cake from KC. Up to now I've only tried the wet version, as it should be more readily drinkable than the dry one. For a novice like me, it is definitely something good. My personal finding teaches me that this cake is delicate(what's your finding?). Thus I spend quite some time, tuning the brewing parameter and satisfied with it.

Diego said...

Thank you!