Thursday, February 27, 2020

2004 Nan Qiao Bulang King: Strong Qi!

This ($110.00 for 357g cake or $0.31/g) is a drier Taiwanese stored Bulang option sourced by Teas We Like from Nan Qiao’s inaugural year.  Nan Qiao factory is most famous for its Bulang and is also famous for using lots of cleaner and organic certified material.  If you look around, a lot of vendors actually carry puerh from Nan Qiao Factory.  This should be some of the top of the brand, literally the King (Chawang) of Bulang…

The very tight machine pressed dry leaves smell of a very peat mossy type of smell with a very faint incense almost smokiness.

First infusion is a slightly fishy seaweed and incense with a peat fresh wood-chips-like taste.  The taste is kind of unique and finishes with a faint pungent and sour wood finish.  The mouthfeel is tight and the throat feel hasn’t really been activated yet- just mild sensations in the top throat.  There is not really much bitter here surprisingly no smoke.  The first infusion tells me that this was really nicely processed for a Bulang.  I like the tight compression on this one too.

The second infusion has a richer incense almost bitter coco suggestion with a slight pondy fishy nuance in the back ground.  There is a distinct salty taste to this puerh throughout.  There is a very faint pungency on the breath then suppressed coco tastes in the aftertaste along with wood chips and faint pond/ marshland.  A subtle bread-like sweetness is hard to grasp at here.  The Qi starts to build in the mind and I can feel the warmth of this puerh start to generate internally.  This will be strong…

The third infusion starts with a woody incense taste with the fishy pond nuance becoming less here.  There is a long salty base taste then a sour wood taste.  There is a soft pungency that pushes wood chips, faint coco, almost a hard to grasp milky coco taste, wood chips, and incense.  There is a lingering bread like sweetness like raison bread. There is a kind of soft flat bitterness that kind of comes much later after swallowing.  The mouthfeel is nicely full and tight, the throat has a upper-mid level opening.  Saliva is kind of trapped at the top of the throat extending these unusual tastes for quite some time.  The Qi is pretty strong here and makes the head and body wobble and heat is generated at the core.  I can feel my chest start to pound loudly.

The fourth infusion has a bitter incense woody onset the pond/ marshland is almost gone and the initial taste is mild bitter wood chips, incense and coco bitterness.  The full tight mouthfeel tugs at the throat and fills the mouth.  The Qi is very very strong and I am flushed in the face, I feel almost dizzy, like I could faint if I exert myself.  The heart pounds.  This is very strong Qi.  The aftertaste has a bread like sweetness to it that emerges under the bitter.  This infusion is still quite salty underneath.

The fifth infusion starts with incense, slight pond, wood chips, and moderate bitter.  It turns slightly sour and salty then a faint but building pungent coolness.  The aftertaste is bitterer than the initial taste and there is a mix of pond, wood, incense, faint coco and bread sweetness.  There is a lingering metallic taste in the aftertaste as well.  The Qi is big, staggeringly large in the mind.

The sixth infusion starts with a strong bitter taste with wood and coco and incense.  The pondy fishiness is gone.  The aftertaste come after an undulating coolness hits and expands.  The result is long bread and coco bitter sweetnesses.  This infusion hits the spot.  Big Qi along with bitterness slows me down considerably and I consider removing leaf from the pot…

The seventh infusion… Ok I didn’t remove leaf (I will not admit defeat quite yet) just took a 40 min rest… the first has an almost raison and faint coco onset that is balanced bitter and sweet.  The taste is a flat coco with incense, saltiness, woodiness much more background.  The taste here is nice with a lingering coolness and incense and bread sweet type of finish.  The mouth feeling is now chalkier.  The aftertaste is also mineral here.

The eighth infusion starts a nice smooth almost milky sweet onset with bitter less here and incense in there too.  This infusion has a classic Bulang onset.  It stretches into a mineral milky flat bitter.  A pungent coolness then sweet bread. Not much coco here and much less bitterness.  The bitterness is receding.  The Qi races the chest, pounds it hard.  This one really tastes like classic Bulang.

The ninth has a slight creamy milky flat sweet and subtle pond/ marshland.  There are faint suggestions of coco and a nice long creamy sweetness.  The coolness is less and pushes a stronger sweetness out of the flat milk tastes.  There is a faint bit of mineral and even less saltiness now.  Overall this infusion is milky sweet with touches of mild bitter and coco.  The mouthfeeling becomes more chalky and full.  The throat feel is not too deep with this one but it mainly gets stimulated with the intense bitter early in the session.

The tenth is milky sweet initially with a mild woody flat bitter and a mineral taste as well as incense coming out mid profile.  The mouthfeel is a sticky chalky now and bitter-sweet coco comes after a mild coolness.  The qi is still in the chest- like a good Bulang should.  It has less intensity and almost a relaxing effect now.

The 11th is bitter-sweetness, milky, almost incense and herbaceous tastes.  There is some sour and even some mineral later into the session.  The aftertaste is becoming less.  Still some woods and incense and milk sweetness.  This infusion was more herb tasting.

The 12th onset is more herbaceous onset with incense and flat milk sweetness.  There is a lessening bitterness as well as full mouthfeeling.  Qi is less and extends into a relaxed feeling with some chest heart palpitations.

The 13th is an herbaceous incense woodyiness initially with more a faint coco and milk finish.  The profile has leveled out here and it’s pretty easy straight forward drinking.

The 14th is much more of the same herbaceous, incense, this more has a bit more milky coco swetnesss, faint cooling, woody, pretty tasty stuff with a relaxing feeling now.  These infusions get less bitter as they go, less complex, less sweet.  But still delicious with more of a relaxing Qi after all that stimulation.

I throw in the towel early with this one and put it into overnight steepings which seem to pull out a pretty bitter herby soup.

Overall a nice Bulang.  To me a classic Bulang should have a full bitter peak early in the session with a nice coco taste and milky/creamy sweet balance, there should be earth shattering Qi that must make the heart race, the mouthfeel should be full and stimulating, and there should be some faint smoke in there to indicate the more rudimentary production.  Then after the first handful of steeps the bitter should give way to milky flat sweetness and woodiness.  These are the qualities I look for in a quality classic Bulang.  This 2004 Nan Qiao Chawang Bulang mainly has the earth shattering Qi … but man is it every satisfyingly strong and clear!

This 2004 Nan Qiao Bulang starts a bit unique with some interesting pond tastes that I don’t usually see in Bulang.  I don’t think this is storage taste although that flavor usually indicates off storage- I think it is a part of the profile and where this tea is in the aging.  Plus there is no smoke.  These are not necessarily bad things, they are just things… unique and complex things actually.

This Bulang has a very intense Qi which to me is everything in a Bulang.  It does this part very very well. Its bitterness is strong and creamy/milky sweetness is low-moderate.  It is a very nicely processed, very clean drier Taiwanese storage, with a pure clean feeling in the body.  There is actually a lot of interesting notes in this Bulang which give it a different type of herby, pondy, mineral, and medicial wood-like complexity.  They are just not notes I really like nor are they notes that I am looking for in a Bulang.

I don’t think I will be purchasing another but it is nice to have a good example of a dry stored herbaceous, woody, medicinal Bulang.  From what I have read, most Nan Qiao seem to be low on the sweetness and high on the herbal, woody, medicinal tastes.  I think the price is about right for something like this.  The interesting thing about this Bulang is that it is so powerful and clean and kind of unusual that I caught myself going back for a few more sessions over the last few weeks when I was looking for a power boost and/or for some unusual puerh tastes.

Rating 6.8.



  1. Great review Matt, have you had the Wistaria 03 qingteng? The storage taste is very similar. Also I'm surprised you didn't get any of the smokiness, I guess it will come out in other sessions. This one was not easy to find, and I think it is hard to beat this price for good quality 2004 bulang.

  2. marco,

    Thanks for tracking this one down for us. Out of all the bulangs that I will sample here, this one might be the cheapest and also might have the strongest Qi... at least for its price and age.

    Believe it or not, I have never tried any Wistaria puerh.

    Will be sure to intensely search for smoke... haha haha. Maybe when I get into the more compressed centre of this tight bing.