Sunday, June 25, 2006, 12:33 AM ( 44 views )We have been searching for Wuyi yan cha that have really great quality and deserve our cordially introduction to our customers. In our May vacation to Taiwan, we visited an old pu-erh collector. During our conversation, we talked about our desire to find great wuyi yan cha. He laughed and brewed us a Rou Gui gong-fu style... and we immediately knew we found them!
Here are the four yan cha we just received from him:
(1) Da Hong Pao - 2005 Spring
(2) Rou Gui - 2005 Spring
(3) 90's Shui Xian - early 90's
(4) Bai Rei Xian - 2005 Spring
I have beed drinking them several times, gong-fu style. But I think it would be worthy to perform a small "taste-off" among the four using standardized "competition tea" parameters to have a fair evaluation of them.
First, I measured 3g of each tea and put them onto labelled paper:
Next, put each tea into a white porcelain bowl and pour in 150cc boiling water. Cover each bowl with a lid. Waiting .. tic tic tic... 6 mins. OK! Ready to taste them. This is the picture after 6mins:
Our tasting notes:
Liquor: All four liquor show great clarity. Each of them is distinct enough: 90's Shui Xian indeed shows her beautiful amber color due to aging. Da Hong Pao is light amber. Rou Gui is light amber to golden. Bai Rei Xian is light golden with a hint of green.
Aroma: All four of them have their own unique and original aroma.
- Da Hong Pao has an amazing ripe fruity fragrance and changes to delicate floral aroma when cools. Medium-bodied. With flavors of honey, ripe apples, lychees, and later orchid/roses. Not spicy but assertive, mature and round.
- Rou Gui really lives up to its name: spicy cinnamon aroma smartly blends with airy floral fragrance. Medium-bodied. Flavors similar to the traits of Da Hong Pao but with an explicit and crispy cinnamon background.
- 90's Shui Xian is excitingly mellow and complex - we can easily detect the unmistakable aged feeling with a hint of acid, the aroma is spicy like Rou Gui, and when it cools it shows the pleasant fruity/floral quality of Da Hong Pao. Full-bodied.
- Bai Rei Xian has an easy-going and pleasant floral quality, like a teenage Da Hong Pao. Less flamboyant, more airy and light-bodied. With flavors of orchid and green apples/pears.
Taste: Interestingly, the taste of each one matches very well with her aroma impression: Da Hong Pao is mellow/smooth/round, Rou Gui adds some spicy-ness but still very smooth. 90's Shui Xian is surprisingly complex and mellow. Bai Rei Xian is breezy with a wonderful sweetness and smoothness.
Very often we heard people complain about Wuyi yan cha, "They all taste the same, very heavy-fired." During our search for great yan cha, we came across many times same kind of problem - they miserably lack unique character. We are very happy with the four Wuyi yan cha we tasted here: each one is truely unqiue and original!
Overall, Irene and I like the 90's Shui Xian the best - it so smartly possesses the advantages from Da Hong Pao and Rou Gui, but at the same time so round and mellow. The charming acidity in it due to over 10-year aging is a killer!
We think the aging potential of Da Hong Pao and Rou Gui is promising. With so much "juice" packed in the leaves, the two will denifitely shine given several more years to mature.
Irene & Guang @ Hou De
Thursday, June 22, 2006, 10:25 AM ( 47 views )Yesterday I receives a parcel of 1998 Bai Hao Oolong from a collector in Taiwan. Out of curiosity, I brewed it side by side with my 2005 Bai Hao Oolong using standardized parameters (3g leaves/150cc water/6mins).
Below is a picture of the two liquor at the end of 6 mins:
As can be seen in the picture, the 98 bai hao has a more amber color than the 2005 one. While the 2005 bai hao has a very enticing floral/fruity fragrance, the 98 one definitely shows more mellow and mature fragrance: still floral and fruity, and a lovely nutty scent also emerges to nicely blend together all fragrance in a harmonic way. The 98 bai hao also has more penetrating and lingering feeling - especially in the aftertaste.
Can oolongs age like fine wines or pu-erhs? Oh, definitely! But not every oolong can be aged, and it needs special "roasting treatment". A very complex topic, I will get back to this in more details in the future ; )
Friday, June 16, 2006, 12:07 PMI was so excited to receive a "sample cake" of 2006 Yan-Ching Hao, together with three photo albums of their trip to Yunnan this spring.
>>> Click here to see the album <<<
Here is a picture of their 2006 cake.
Larger Images of the cake-->
Striking red-and-white-colored design with traditional phoenix patterns. A bit similar to 2005 Yi Wu Cha Wang, but 2006 cake has a double-layered wrapper as used in 2004 Special Reserve Cha Wang. A blue seal on the wrapper saying "Chi Shian", meaning "a wondrous fragrance". Date (2006 March) and weight (500g) are also clearly marked on the wrapper.
A picture of the liquor; first thing first, I checked the clarity of the liquor to make sure the kill-green process was well completed. I was indeed satisfied with the crystal-clear clarity!
Next, onto the quality of the leaves. As can be seen in the pictures, How Strong and Lively those leaves are! There is not doubt they are very premium big-tree (arbor) type pu-erh leaves.
The taste is a nice blend of veggie fragrance with floral aroma. Some fruity notes appear in later brews. Still few woody tones developed. No unpleasant smoky smell. Very elegant, mild and smooth taste.
According to Yan-Ching Hao's owner Mr. Yan, this Gu Shu cake was made of a blending of premium sun-dried leaves from old plantations in the six famous mountains, and contains at least 30% of leaves from wildly-grown arbor trees. Their another 2006 cake, on the other hand, did not contain wildly-grown leaves. I tasted both and found the aroma/taste of the Gu Shu cake was indeed more refined. Hence we decided to offer this Gu Shu cake.
He also pointed out that the blend was overseen by an old tea master in YiWu, following the traditional of some antique-Hao grade pu-erhs.
I also like the solid and meaty feeling of 500g cake! With the surging price of pu-erh raw leaves in Yunnan, this fine cake is truly a worthy treasure.
Guang@ Hou De
Tuesday, June 6, 2006, 02:32 PM ( 73 views )I remember there was an article by a ceramic artist about how Japan can have such a high standard in ceramic art. The article said those Japanese parents let their children use fine ceramic tablewares, so they could have a good aestheticism training since their very early childhood.
So I decided to let my 7-month Yuan learn how to properly season a fine yixing (60's NanYan-line Zhu Ni Shui Pin)... and these are some highlights of her "aestheticism training":
Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 01:52 PM
<- May contain adult material; click at your own discretion.
Who would think the shy and conservative Chinese people would print a Chun-Gong (Erotic) picture on the wrapper of their wedding gifts in 18th century! The Song-Ping Hao tribute brick of GuangXu period of the Qing dynasty proves the very unexpected. The brick is owned by San Ho Tang’s owner, Mr. Chen Zhen-Wei, an amateur Chinese calligrapher. The big Xi (double-happiness) character on the silk wrapper of the brick looks just like a regular blessing to the newlywed in any Chinese wedding ceremony. However, if you look closely into the Xi, you will be surprised to see the drawings of several sexual positions inside the character.
In the very conservative sovereignty of the 18th century Qing dynasty, the princes and princesses of the royal family could receive little sexual education. The education was usually done through paintings by several royal artists. This Song-Ping Hao brick is a very good and valuable example: it was a royal wedding gift to a princess on her wedding day, “now there are something you need to know quickly...”
A Taiwanese news of Mr. Chen and Xi Zhi Hao.
Inspired by the rich history behind this brick, Mr. Chen of San Ho Tang decided several years ago to re-live this old tradition. He did extensive researches based on collections of antique-grade pu-erhs and many visits to the remote mountains in Yunnan. In 2005, he was confident that he finally grasped every secret of a true Royal Tribute Pu-erh. And that led to the introduction of 2005 series of Xi-Zhi (Double-Happiness) Hao.
We are very proud to be the first to introduce this premium Collector-oriented series outside the Asian Market. The 2005 Xi-Zhi (Double-Happiness) series have five different kinds:
1. Lao Ban Zhan, 500g
2. Yu Le Remote Mountain Wild Arbors, 500g
3. Nan Nuo Remote Mountain Purple Tips, 500g
4. Lao Ban Zhan Brick, 400g
5. Lao Ban Zhan, 3000g
And there are two different versions of wrappers: the Xi-Shi version and the Calligraphy version.
Click here to see the selections of 2005 Xi-Zhi Hao!
Guang@ Hou De