Thursday, 2 February 2012

2005 Yong Pin Hao - Stone-pressed Yiwu

This tea arrived in my second package of sheng samples, and I just realised that one year has passed since that time.  Some of the samples have gone quickly, some turned to full cakes, and some are still resting in my drawer. The reason why they lasted so long is not an attempt to age them but the fact, that they didn’t impress me that much. Once upon a time I take out some of these samples and re-try it. It is an interesting experience.

The way I sense and then judge a tea is changing: what I considered to be a good value one year ago, may not be as good now. It is a process of learning, I think. It takes time to find out what suits me, which are the things I have to look for in a tea. In this process of learning I consider the honesty with myself to be one of the most important issues to learn. There were teas described as a delight by someone and I tried to convince myself how much I like it. Silly, I know, but sometimes you just don’t realise it. Often the tea hasn’t been tried yet but the opinion is already made. These kind of situations could be applied also for life in general.

Things are slowly changing to better (I guess), but as usual, there is always place for improvement and I feel to be only at the beginning of my tea journey anyways. But lets get back to this young sheng from 2005.

As I look back I recall this tea as weak. When I started with young shengpu as an unseasoned tea drinker I experienced most of them as strong, loaded with flavor and often bitter in both good and bad way. Among them this one was quiet, mild and therefore not interesting.

The last chunk in the sample bag has around 8g what is more than I usually use, so it should be enough to bring out the potency of this tea (if there is any).

8g / 90ml gaiwan, 10s rinse, 10s, 10s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 1min, 2min, 5min

Both the dry and wet leaves have low, tobacco like sweet smell. I also notice an aged character in the aroma. It is clear, no disturbing storage smell. The initial infusions are a bit thin but tasty. The lid of the gaiwan releases some fruity notes typical for Yi Wu teas, not much though. As I increase the steeping times the liquor become thicker, the taste is sweet tobacco like. The aged - nutty character, which is appearing both in the tea and aroma cup, is very unusual for a sheng of this age. 

As you can see also the colour of the liquor is darker than one would expect. 

The later infusions are mild, round but enjoyable. There is almost no bitterness, the aftertaste is nice but not to intense. I have drunk mainly shengs coming from recent years these days and the difference in the qi is noticeable; this one is rather on the calming then uplifting side. I started the session with a bit upset stomach but it got fixed after the first infusions, what is a good sign. 

It is not easy for me to find and overall conclusion. The session was nice, the taste was also good, but as I look at the parameters I had to push this tea quite a bit to get the result. I could think two explanations which would clear up the lack of energy in this tea. Maybe the leaves used for this sheng are not strong enough and don't have sufficient load of fuel, but as I look at them after the session they look big and nice; some are whole and some fragmented.

Another explanation is the one which I read on Hobbes blog. He often describes the Yong pin Hao teas as over processed. In other words, they use some extra steps and/or time during the processing to enhance the flavor: make it sweeter, rounder and also possibly add an aged character. However, the ageing process should be natural and I am not a fan of this kind of "upgrades".

The current price at YS is 40 USD what would be fine if one would give the same result with 4-5 g instead of 8g, unfortunately this is not the case.

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