30 August, 2010

2004 Huji - Xingshunxiang "Yiwu Mahei"

Greetings, scholar-priests, sages, and warrior-poets.  Today, I bring you further results from Taobao.  

His Grace, the Duke of N recommended this particular cake to me, which came from 贡马旗舰店 (Gongma Qijian Dian) for a mighty 128 RMB ($18).  This is a wonderfully low price for a six-year-old cake, is it not?

Regular readers may recall my ceaseless love of the equally carefree and whimsical 2006 Xingshunxiang "Yiwu", which trades for the paltry, piffling price of 70 RMB ($10).  These are not expensive teas - and yet, they are mighty fine.

Taobao is the shopping mall of the Gods*, I'm convinced.

*N.B. Not all of those gods are beneficent dieties.

2004 Xingshunxiang Mahei

Like its younger sibling, this 2004 cake has lovely, large leaves (pictured below).  They run throughout the entire cake, and include a mixture from tips to huangpian [yellow flakes], which makes for some potentially complex tea.

2004 Xingshunxiang Mahei

The compression is relaxed; the cake is louche, as if to say, "Meh - take my leaves."

2004 Xingshunxiang Mahei

Again like its younger relative, it is sweet, smooth, dark, and almost like molasses.  Both Lei and I enjoy this session, in which the tea provides a pleasing, soothing sensation while being concurrently energising.

I do so thoroughly love sharp, woody teas, which contain both the joys of youth and some of the depth of maturity.  There is a part of me that will be quite, quite sad were all my cakes to age past this sweet point.  Hence, I must always maintain a supply of young cakes!  Justification indeed.

2004 Xingshunxiang Mahei

Pre-2006 tea won't be around at a good price forever.  This tea is a complete bargain, in my estimation, and I resolve to buy one tong of it.  Xingshunxiang appear to be able to do no wrong in my eyes.  Be warned, gentle Reader, that this isn't an earth-shattering tea... but it is entirely charming, and wonderfully priced.

Let us not doubt the munificence of the gods of Taobao on this occasion.


Cecil Hill said...

I like puerhs because they are all different. I bought some from the local FOCUS Department store when they were on half price sell over Chinese New Year about two years ago. They were not bad. I bought four of them and they are the only puerh I have ever bought that I did not taste first. An advantage, of course, of living in China.

Is there such a thing as bad tea? Bad tasting, maybe, but isn't all tea supposed to be good for you?

I am up and running on the tea blog. Nothing serious yet but within 72 hours I will start tasting the teas I have captured since my last blog in June 2009.

BTW, I had a gap guy two years ago who is now a medical student at Oxford (or was that Cambridge). We had many a tea taste together and now he is very much an Englishman with his tea.

Unknown said...

Another great review! any suggestions on a Taobao agent to use to procure some of this tea?

MarshalN said...

It was a complete coincidence that I ran into this cake on taobao while looking at other random things. Then I remembered the cake I referred you to, many moons ago, and decided to give it a try. It turned out pretty well I think. Like you said -- it's not amazing, but its quality/price ratio is very high.

drumhum said...

I get so frustrated when I read of the joys of Taobao. Every time I look at it I face nothing but chinese text which leaves me at a loss.

I've tried translating via google but it is pretty rubbish!

Am I missing something? Is there a way for a non chinese speaker?

Hobbes said...

Dear Cecil,

You might like to try some samples from one of the big Western vendors (Puerh Shop, Yunnan Sourcing, Dragon Teahouse, China Chadao, Red Lantern) to get an idea of which pu'er you like. I tend to only buy cakes of tea if I know I'll like it - 375g is a lot of tea!

Dear Spaaaz,

Firstly, you have a most excellent username. Secondly, I've settled on TaobaoFocus these days, whereas I used to use Panli or Taobaonow. Taobaofocus are superbly prompt, have the lowest shipping rates, and offer SAL (cheap 2-3 week shipping).

Dear MarshalN,

I'm very glad that you did so, as I've come to enjoy both Xingshunxiang products - so thanks again. They are a trustworthy stalwart in a world of pretenders.

Dear Drumhum,

If you're not so confident with the ol' Zhonglish, then you could always find the characters for a particular tea using Babelcarp - for instance, if you're after a good Xingshunxiang, Babelcarp will provide you the Chinese characters, which you can then use to search Taobao. It's just like eBay, really, so there's nothing really to learn. Once you've found a product that you like, you just cut-and-paste the URL of the product's page into your handler's ordering page (e.g., TaobaoFocus). A veritable piece of cake!



Unknown said...

Thank I will check them out!!!!