Wednesday, August 1, 2018
2006 Yang Qing Hao Qixiang and the Classic Grandiose Wrappers of Yang Qing Hao
I arrived at work a few weeks ago to my administration staff at work gathered around a package they had opened that arrived from Emmet. In it was a tong of 2007 Huangshan Qizhong, a complimentary sample (next post my friends), and this 500g single Qingbing of 2006 Yang Qing Hao Qixiang. The staff was pretty much ignoring the tong and sample (I was more curious about what sample arrived) and were handling and discussing the sealed clear Mylar bag which contained the Qixiang cake.
They made comments like “it feels so solid and heavy”, “it looks like it should be framed and put on the wall”, “this is like art”, “it’s like something out of an old Chinese movie”. I found these comments interesting because none of them had ever tried puerh tea. They were simply giving me their honest opinions on the look and feel of the wrapper. In their innocence, I think they pretty much summed up the Yang Qing Hao brand without even trying or knowing anything about the tea. This is why I think Yang Qing Hao’s wrappers, tickets, packaging is the most brilliant of all.
Yang Qing Hao wrappers are, to me, some of the most interesting in all of the puerh world. They purvey a sense of grandiose, elegance, classic and timelessness, preciousness, solidness, something worthy of appreciation or appraisal. The above comments attest to this feeling. From what I know about graphic design, having so much going on in one wrapper without looking like just a wrapper full of random words and designs is very hard to pull off. But, pull it off they did. Genius.
Anyways, let crack this cake and find out how it’s doing, shall we?...
The dry leaves smell of, well, Yang Qing Hao storage smells, and a nice floral and distinct plummy aroma.
First infusion has a mellow juicy fruity overtone which hangs in the mouth and throat over a slightly viscus and salivating mouthfeel. A mild returning camphor coolness sweeps by but then leaves more fruit to be enjoyed. A return of fruit tastes ensues even hits at warmer notes of cinnamon which barely penetrate the lighter display of fruit tastes.
The second infusion has a more active and intensely fruity onset which turns into a mild cooling then there is a nice frosty sweetness which arrives later. Fruit tastes return. The tongue is mildly stimulated like a very fine beach sand. It is enough to give these tastes traction despite of an almost complete lack of bitterness. The depth of fruity tastes is interesting, complicated enough, and deep. There is just a mild astringency in here as well. Qi is a very relaxing one, pleasant and happy.
The third infusion the fruit tastes become more mixed in with very mild pleasant astringency almost tartness. They splash the back of the throat which seems very mildly stimulated. Then a mild sweep of cooling washes over the taste then more complicated interplay of fruits. The mouthfeel is filling out here and becomes stickier and slightly sandy on the tongue tip. Qi is in the head, floating, wobbling, good head feeling. Relaxing Qi.
The fourth starts with some mild astringency mixed with intense layered fruit it traverses to a mild icing sugared sweetness along with mild camphor coolness. There is a touch of woody notes in there too. The icing sugar and wood are new here as the character is changing. The mouth and throat feel is stickier. The tongue is especially stimulated.
The fifth infusion has a chalky fruit sweetness initially. There is a powdery feeling in the mouth- a cool returning sweetness reverberates. Saliva is pushed from the throat into the mouth. It finishes with a slight floral suggestions and sweet dates and cherry finish. Overall, this tea has a nice full impression in its profile and in the simulation of the mouth, throat, and tongue.
The sixth infusion starts with a slightly sourish, barely astringent, almost tart, dominating fruit taste. It becomes a bit pasty almost chalky and almost woody but mainly fruity. There is a fainter icing suragy sweet returning taste and now the aftertaste shares woody and fruity notes. The qi is becoming pretty big here- it pushes me into a fine moist sweat. I feel warm. I feel spaced out, things slow but I’m not detached. Overall, I feel calm. The relaxation is very profound- I start to feel heavy headed, warm.
The seventh infusion starts with a fruity, woody mix, this is classic Yiwu stuff here. The mild returning cool sweetness is there followed by fruity tastes.
The eighth and ninth is much the same slight sour/ astringent mainly just good deep fruity, some woods, cooling returning sweetness. Lots of significantly dense fruitiness. Sometimes there is different fruitiness but none is too overly light nor is it the deep dried fruit tastes either. The qi is profound for me. Would be better if I could just stare at the wall instead of work under its influence… remember to do work today, I note.
The ninth infusion has this interesting mix of vibrant fruits and slight wood. This tea is really nicely balanced. Very good Gushu, definitely no plantation in here- guaranteed. Its too Qi heavy, with no bitterness, full of flavor, interesting blended stuff. Yummy.
The tenth is much the same. I marvel at the Qi- it is really something. I can’t believe that some people can’t feel this- it’s really unavoidable. The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling are also solid enough to hold the flavor but are not overdone or overly stimulating.
The eleventh infusion has some nice fruit but the returning coolness is actually the strongest part of the taste profile here. This qi is also very very warming energy. Without any bitterness in the profile, this tea has a warming strengthening character to it.
The twelfth feel more light and fruity and less depth of fruity if that makes any sense? The wood is mild and slowly saunters very lightly beneath.
The thirteenth I still have at flash infusions here. When the pot is stuffed full of leaves and the mouthfeel remains very full, pushing for longer infusions has a risk of too much dryness in the mouth and throat. But with no bitterness in sight I might just try this in the middle infusions next time. The fruitiness here is less more mellow with slight wood.
The fourteenth I add 15 seconds to the infusion. It pushes out a considerably more fruit tastes than the last few infusions. The fruitiness, sweetness, and cool returning taste is stronger but the mouthfeel remains about the same. So I push again.
The fifteenth infusion with about 30 gives about the same. This tea is fruity and the fruit turns quite heavy with these longer infusion times here. The returning sweet coolness is longer too now. The sixteenth is also much the same. The fruit tastes are robust and full.
Overall, this tea is a good example big gushu style qi in a body of mainly fruity tastes. The qi really puts you in the clouds. The mouthfeel and throatfeel are solid throughout. There is no bitterness in here so the mild astringency and sour-tartness pull the tastes through the profile. A nice tea. Close to some of the Yiwu blended stuff I used to drink a lot of. Probably better than what I’m used to.
I had another session and it was really savory and tart…. Very interesting stuff. The second session I had with this tea was very very different but interesting, more than just Yiwu fruit and wood. Just on a 3rd session with this tea today and I find that using different water and teapot really brings out different qualities of taste but the Qi remains stable. This 2006 Qixiang is priced at $260.00 for a big 500g cake ($0.52/g), it is a bit pricy for some budgets but I still feel like you are getting lots for that price- this is not a simple standard puerh in qi or taste. It has something interesting to it that I’m just beginning touch on in these first few sessions. It has only doubled in price over the last 7 years when Houde was selling it for $135. For what you are getting, the price is reasonable, if you compare to modern productions (which you probably shouldn't do), this tea is a deal.
The Qi of this tea seals the deal with me. Its qi is characterized by being focused on the head, very relaxing, and quite warming in the body. I really like the qi in here- it is very comforting. The second session I had was first thing in the morning and it really woke me up but in a very gentle sort of way. I really like the subtle warming body feeling I get from this puerh. I think this tea would be nice to drink in meditation, as I would do all the time years back. Even after the first session with this puerh, I’m convinced I will get at least a cake more, … I haven’t decided yet.