Perhaps, like many of you reading this, I ended up just ordering one cake as a kind of sample cake to test the group buy thingy, sample the Yang Qing Hao brand, and see what the frenzied hype of 2015/2016 was all about. By now, many many people have tested it this way, I think. The 2007 Huangshan Qizhong is one of the most popular and its description and reviews seem like a kind of tea that I’m looking to purchase, so I buy one of those ($135.00 for 400g cake or $0.34/gram).
Thanks to all of those people who put in some time, energy, and money to vet some of these cakes for someone like me who is coming in late. All of your hard work has helped me narrow my purchases down. Looking back, it was a real frenzied search for which cakes were the best for the price back when the whole catalogue of Yang Qing Hao was made accessible all at once in 2015. There were those recommending then not recommending, flipping and flopping. These cakes are not cheap and we have access to virtually the whole catalogue without a chance to sample them. I think Emmett did the right thing but not offering samples- its so so much tedious work for someone who is benefiting so little.
The price of this cake has gone up in the last year to $140.00 for 400g cake or $0.35/gram). One of the things that really surprised me when I was researching Yang Qing Hao was that the price of these cakes (especially the 2007s) has actually gone down substantially in the last 5 years.
I think that nowadays you could make a pretty compelling argument that some these cakes are quite the bargain if they seem to check out. Others will simply say that are priced correctly and the lowering of the price was a market adjustment in response to them always being on the overpriced side for years. Either way, the fact that the price of these is not continuously increasing and the fact that increases are so so minute (1% for this cake), seems to be rare these days. I appreciate the fact that these cakes are probably priced (at the very least) at fair market value and the fact that next week they probably won't increase in price by 42%.
The insignificant or stagnant price increases actually bode very well for those interested in Yang Qing Hao. This is partly because everything else seems to continuously be on the rise (young maocha as well as older cakes). Another more interesting idea is that, if you are a fan of the famous Yang Qing Hao storage, you actually have more incentive to just buy a cake or so when you run out and have your future cakes sit in the nice Taiwanese storage until you are ready to drink more.
It seems like being late to get on the Yang Qing Hao bandwagon has many many perks.
Anyways... The only way we can really answer the question of whither Yang Qing Hao is actually worth it is to actually taste the tea and form our own judgements of the tea. So here we go…
Over the past year, I have drank through a whole 400g cake and have gotten to know this puerh quite well. I can confidently state that this tea has tones of stamina and easily lasts 20 infusions. Its taste is interesting in that rarely it presents with only very oily, deep, dark, heavy, bitter and astringent flavors. My wife cleverly describes this as "some kind of undrinkable poison". Where as other times this tea is stuffed full of constantly changing fruit and high notes which overtop a blanket of deeper, darker, heavier tastes. My very young child describes this as "the yummy Qizhong". This tea can be very finicky at times and can swing either way even within one session. The good part here is that most times it tastes like the latter. Either way, this makes the tea a very interesting puerh. Skilled steeping goes a long way here.
The thing that is the most consistent and what makes this tea a real treasure is the power of its Qi. This tea has a powerfully vigorous qi profile. It really and profoundly effects the chest, especially the Heart. When I'm feeling exhausted and have a busy day ahead of me this tea pulls me into an energized state every time. Conversely, if I am not fatigued or have already had tea this puerh can give me Heart palpitations (which I have never had) and even push my mind into a frenzied, almost anxious or manic, state (also has never happened to me).
I have sampled many many puerh in my life but very few have had such a poignant effect. To me there is a very special Qi in this tea.
Its the main reason I ended up ordering a tong a month or so back. I'm learning that Yang Qing Hao, at its core, is all about the way it makes you feel. Those people who are stuck on the taste of it, will probably never get Yang Qing Hao.
Another reason I purchased a tong of this tea is because it has very good stamina. It can easily be steeped 20 times in gong fu brewing. Also, I even use much less leaf than I usually do for puerh with this potent puerh. This further increases the value of this puerh compared to the average. I get many more pots of tea per gram of leaf with this one. Usually when I start this tea I'm brewing it for 3 days.
Does Qizhong have amazing and unique qi? Yes.
Does Qizhong have great value? Yes.
Do I think there is aging potential for Qizhong? Yes.