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28 May 2006 @ 05:10 pm
2004 Yan Ching Hao from Hou De  
2004 Yan Ching Hao - package

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...

2004 Yan Ching Hao - neifei with leaf

I was truly reticent to separate the leaf from the neifei, but I went for it for the sake of tea-porn:

2004 Yan Ching Hao - neifei backside

2004 Yan Ching Hao - neifei front

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...

2004 Yan Ching Hao - leaf

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.

2004 Yan Ching Hao - liquor after 3rd infusion

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.
Current Mood: geekygeeky
In My Cup:: same as above...
kibi_kibi on May 29th, 2006 01:23 am (UTC)
mmm interesting - this looks like a top class tea and I may end up trying it myself from all the good reviews. The pics are great, thanks!

Very expensive... very inflated... is it worth it?
psychopuncture on May 29th, 2006 01:52 am (UTC)
in my opinion, it's certainly worth a few bucks for a sample. i also think the 2005 is worth the price--at just over $50, yes, i could get 3 or more cakes of something else, but i'd rather have 1 cake of something i really love. everyone has their own approach and priorities, though.

let's put it this way: a number of vendors have cakes available from the late 90s/early 2000s for around $50. i'd rather have a beeng of the '05 yan ching hao than some of those others, but then, i may be in a minority in that regard.

however, i've bought beengs based on others' recommendations and have been disappointed. so, back to the idea of samples...
kibi_kibi on May 29th, 2006 11:10 am (UTC)
For $50 - $60 you could get a tong of very reasonable tea from China but nothing really fancy, minus the shipping.

I can see what you mean; but I just can't see how a new cake can cost that much - someone is making a lot of money on this somewhere along the line. I am sure that there is just as good a cake out there somewhere; this is where a sample is useful I guess - to compare..
psychopuncture on May 29th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
here's how i think about it--you all can tell me whether my thinking is flawed:

i like chocolate, and am perfectly happy with good-quality dark chocolate. my favorite is valrhona, which i think is really great stuff. however, it is commercially produced in large quantities, so although it's excellent, it's not the same as the chocolate made by some french chocolatier in his private shop from a secret recipe--and which is more difficult to access, made in limited quantities, etc.

am i perfectly happy with the valrhona? absolutely. however, if i can on rare occasion afford it, would i love to have some of the hand-made stuff from the little shop? you bet. i may not get to eat it every day, and it may not even be appropriate for every day, but sometimes it's worth it to treat myself.

back to tea: same thing, i think. i'd be perfectly happy with a tong of a decent grade puer. if/when i can afford it, it's also nice to have some of the boutique stuff now and again. is it worth the extra bucks? well, that all depends...
kibi_kibi on May 29th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah I think that I can relate to what you're saying and on that point you may be correct.

I am just thinking, to what extent is the Yan Ching Hao special; I am probably gonna have to buy a sample to find out...
psychopuncture on May 29th, 2006 04:27 pm (UTC)
it's really nice to have samples available for such expensive tea. for a $15 beeng, i don't mind just plunking down the cash, but before i pay a bunch for a high-end tea i want to know for sure.
marshaln on May 29th, 2006 02:20 am (UTC)
Thanks for the review. I've been rather curious about these cakes. I might want to scope them out to see if I can find them in Taiwan.

Yeah, puerh tastes are very personal and other people's recommendations are never good. Some like it raw, some like it aged, some like it in between, some like mellow, some like sharp....

But that's what makes it fun!
psychopuncture on May 29th, 2006 02:25 am (UTC)
>>But that's what makes it fun!<<


also, that's what makes it nice to have friends who have different palates, and different tea collections--be nice if more of you guys were local, though.

and, umm, let me know if you happen to find authentic yan ching hao in taiwan (i understand there are plenty of forgeries, as with other good puer)--we may have more than academic reasons to discuss the pros and cons of various shipping methods...
ogun_funmito on May 29th, 2006 04:56 am (UTC)
My samples from Hou De arrived on Friday. And I also received a sample of this particular 04 Cha Wang. I also grabbed samples of the 05 and an 03 6FTM Ge-Lang-Hou spring silver needle cake.

I will try to get tastings in of at least 2 of them this week...but I will be traveling to Detroit on Thursday evening and will be back next Monday evening. But hopefully working longer hours at work to make up for the time away will also give me some more tea time. :)

Thank you for the review! I'm really excited about trying both the 04 and 05 samples back-to-back to see if I notice the same types of variations.

psychopuncture on May 29th, 2006 05:19 am (UTC)
cool! i'll look forward to your take on these.

hope you have a good trip.

sspeakfreely on September 12th, 2006 12:09 am (UTC)
Just broke into an identical sample (minus the nei fei) sent gratis from HouDe.

While I am liking it, I can't rave about it quite so shamelessly as psychopuncture;-)

The dry leaf is beautiful, and smells more like tootsie roll more than either carob or chocolate, either of which would certainly sound more dignified, but there you have it: tootsie roll.

1st infusion, 5s: V. pale, taste promising, but weak, probably should have started out with longer infusions. Ok, let's call that a "rinse" and move on.

1st infusion, 10s: Still pale, golden, clear. Camphory with not even a hint of bitterness. Lovely honey scent lingers in the cup after drinking, otherwise elusive.
2nd, 15s: Like 1st.
3rd, 20s: Camphor stronger, starting to leave me with cottonmouth, honey afterscent fading:-(
4th - 7th: increasing brew times, results unwavering.

All in all, a pleasant, if somewhat boring tea. Could not pick up on "apricot" as reportned, nor other fruity or flowery notes which would have made it more interesting. Does it take aging to develop these qualities? Would have liked it if the honey scent lingered on the palate, and not just in the cup.

Somewhat relieved that I didn't fall in love with this tea, given the price...