I thought I'd post a review of the 2004 Yan Ching Hao from Hou De for the sake of comparison: after my review of the 2005 Yan Ching Hao (and bearsbearsbears' strong preference for the 2004, I had to see what's what.
Here's what's what:
First, thanks for once again enclosing the nei fei in my sample, Guang! Very cool--with leaf still embedded...
I was truly reticent to separate the leaf from the neifei, but I went for it for the sake of tea-porn:
And now, the tea:
My brewing parameters were very similar to the 2005. And, really, I don't have a lot to say about the tea that I didn't say about the '05--it was just as good, just as powerful, aromatic, unusual. The difference, really, was in the very beginning of a feel of aging--not aged, by any means, but more so than the '05. Slightly darker liquor, a hint of vanilla emerging in the background...
This is a fantastic tea. But what do I know--I haven't been a tea-geek for years and years, I'm a relatively recent tea-geek. Regardless, the Yan Ching Hao (plural: both the 2004 and 2005) are high on my list of desireables.
Would I buy this? Absolutely, if I had that kind of money. I don't, really. And with my limited resources, I'd be hard pressed to find a rationale for purchasing the '04 over the '05. They're both wonderful, but I'm not sure the '04 is (for me, right now) worth the extra $25.
As it stands, I hope to order some of the 2005 soon. And if I were a bit more *ahem* solvent, heck, I'd buy 'em both.