Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Good Fake or Bad Fake?: Fake Houde 2001 7542 Menghai Tea Factory “Simplified Yun”

This is basically a continuation of timely posts on this blog that look at the theme of faking puerh cakes that are for sale by western vendors.  Specifically they look at the most commonly faked puerh factory- Menghai Tea Factory (now known as Dayi), how they infiltrate even trusted Western puerh vendors, the risks you take when purchasing such cakes, vendor bias, and the misinformation that can spread as a result.

I suggest you read these post and the comments that follow before continuing:


2001 Menghai Factory 7542 “Simplified Yun”: Perfect HongkongStorage

It Might Be A Fake

2006 Yang Qing Hao Chawangshu: A Failure of Yang Storage


Okay, the first thing I want to say about this cake is that I was almost certain it was a fake when I bought it.  First of all, there is the semi disclosure/ wink-wink nudge nudge that Guang wrote into the description of this re-release.  When a vendor does this- this is a disclosure that it is fake.  Secondly, the photograph on the site of the cake doesn’t really look like any Menghai Tea Factory official production.  You don’t even have to look closely on the site to see this if you have even a very general familiarity to what wrappers look like from Menghai Tea Factory from this era.  The paper is that super super thin transparent cotton-like paper that rips when you touch it, the shape of the cake itself seems too fat, the ink on the paper is neither faded nor distinct and it doesn’t fit on the cake properly.  This is a pretty good site and has good pictures on what a real Red Dayishould look like in its wrapper.  Specifically, look at how the back of the unopened cake is wrapped- nothing like this one.  You can gather much from the look of a cake if you know what to look for.  Cwyn, who has always brought a more keen observation of the wrapper as well as wet and dry leaves to the puerh blogging world, made this point in this post here.

So, I guess the question is… why would you then want to knowingly buy a fake? 

For me there are a few reasons but one of them is simple…  If the material used for the fake is 2001 and it is made in a similar factory style to the original then even if it was half as good as the original, it would be a good deal.  If it happens to be this, an old school factory style 20 years aged cake from 2001, it would fit my tastes nicely.  The pictures themselves look like nice material anyways.

The second thing that convinced me to take the risk was that I seemed to remember Shah8’s glowing review of this cake.  Specifically, was his comment “Frankly, its what a factory tea should be (and what you generally find in the 80s or earlier)” and he has also repeated claims that he believes it will age well.  I am very fond of this old-school-ness and have pretty much drank through all of my 80s/90s puerh of this style.  What I failed to remember was his other frank assessments that this is fake and other reviewer’s bad reviews of this fake.  I understand the risk of Shah8’s bias towards vigorously defending his own purchases and vendors he grew up with.  I also will give Houde some trust that they would not sell a garbage puerh.  The combination was enough for me to buy.

I guess something else that should be mentioned is the price.  In 2011 Houde sold this fake for $150.00 for 357g cake which would be scandalously overpriced for a fake at this time.  I give them the benefit of the doubt that they were unaware that it was a fake back then but they apparently sold some other faked famous cakes including the famous 88’ Qingbing for $1000.00… that’s real crazy and I appreciate Marco’s very subtle, timely, and polite reminder that there are definitely some risk in blind caking offerings from places that have a history of either knowingly or unknowingly selling fakes as the real thing.  The re-release of this cake sold out in a few hours for $350.00 for 357g cake and although it is more than double the price 10 years ago, it is essentially a white wrapper cake with no authenticity to collect or re-sell nor any market price to reference.  It also represents the smallest price rise of all the re-releases from Houde.  For me, whether it is worth it or not always comes down to the taste and feel of a puerh, this no doubt comes from my experience of drinking old puerh which were likely most often fakes.  Taste and feel are the end all of puerh and not much else… tea is for drinking no?

The material in keeping with the old school vintage of this cake has lots of randomness.  In prying off my first sample I find 2 small pebbles, some hay, and lots of leaf variability some bigger leaves and mainly lots of small whole and chopped leaves.

The dry leaves smell of hay, grains, and a faint almost mineral-woody-leaves sweetness.  After, the rise the leaves have a strong spicy pungent vibrant smell to them.

The first infusion has a syrupy honey straw incense with a long creamy sweet almost marshmallow talc cherry finish.  The mouthfeel has a fine powdery finish on it and coats the mouth.  There is a strong talc, cherry incence mineral powdery taste to it up front but not too much for aftertaste.  There is a pond like finish on the breath.  This first infusion indicates that it is very dry stored, even if early notes indicate that it was more humid stored early it definitely tastes very dry stored now.  The pond and straw kind of remind me of Bulang and Bada.

The second infusion has a strong honey, straw, incense, and kind of briney woody taste that comes strong initially with a more faint talc marshmellow cherry incense sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is an almost tight powdery sensation with suggestions of cherry talc.  The throatfeeling is kind of empty but a mid-upper throat coolness lingers there.  There is a faint throat scatchy driness.  A deep warming energy sweeps over my body and my mind has a resounding clearity.  There is a nice big Qi sensation to greet me.  A Good bodyfeeling of floating limbs.  The aftertaste is a pondy kind of taste.

The third infusion has a stronger syrupy incense onset with some talc, cherry, almost a mushroom hay like taste.  The incense taste dominates here.  The mouthfeel is a tight powdery and unfortunately there is a bit of scratchy throat sensation going on.  The Qi is really big and pushes me into a warming euphoria with a strong high floating sensation.  Very strong stoner Qi here.  Warming chest.  Clarity to details.  Damn scratchy throat- often a sign of rogue humidifying early on.  Pondy finish in the mouth.

The fourth infusion has a strong incence taste with a bit of mineral and faint talc cherry.  This infusion the complexity of taste bows out to a stronger incence taste.  The Qi of this one is really really nice big Qi sensation with strong bodyfeeling.  Wow! Its kind of a Bulang experience to me.  Pond mouth breath. Throat scratch with fine powdery almost tight full mouthcoating.  There is a nice caramel sweet incense taste in the cooled down infusion.  Big Qi for me in the body as if my arms have fallen off my torso and I’m kind of floating with heart pounding.

The fifth infusion has a hay and incense taste with an emerging cherry talc marshmellow dry storage taste.  There is a kind of oak barrel wiskey taste here and a smooth faint caramel.  There is not any throat scratching either.  More of a full powdery mouthcoating.  Pond/marsh finish in the mouth.  Big Qi here.

The sixth infusion has a richer oaky barrel wiskey incense taste.  It seems the throat scratch is gone now. And a smooth inscence complex taste is left behind with the faint talc marshmellow cherry sweetness almost gone here as well. A bit of woody leaves and mineral with not really caramel tastes.  Intense warming Qi breaks me into a sweat.  Floating limbs.  Feels really clean in the body.

The seventh infusion is a strong incense chalky talc mineral taste.  The flavor has dropped off quickly, the mouthfeeling is less intense and the taste is mainly a flat mineral taste with a strong warming Qi sensation.

The eighth is much the same mainly just mineral and incense.  Little bit chaky coarser mouthfeeling on the tongue.  A flat mineral barely pond aftertaste with a flat bitterness undernieth.  Qi is warming and breaks me into a sweat.

The ninth is kind of just a brackish bitter bland tasting thing with warming Qi and some intensity left over…

I put the spent leaves in a mug and grandpa steep them out and it is quite bitter, with some incense and root beer tastes.  You can see in the picture the spent leaves are pretty random with even some weeds in there and some tippy 2 leaves and a bud with larger intact leaves but mainly factory chopped some tea seed pods.  I think this is going to be a pretty diverse blend to put it nicely.

This is believable 2001-2004 material but it doesn’t taste at all like Menghai Factory.  To me it tastes and mainly feels like Bulang area and with it comes insanely good Qi sensation and bodyfeeling which drops off quickly.  There is also interesting complex flavours in the first handful of infusions.  Some of the flavours are a bit weird like a strange hay but others are quite tasty.  Some of these hay tastes kind of remind me of Bada area.  There are also nice signs of good dry storage aging of a marshmallow, cherry talc taste.  Something old school factory like this that is also dry stored gives it some inherent value as it would be rarer to find.  It would be much more brilliant but maybe too intense if it didn’t undergo some humidity early on in the storage but it is minor and is on the whole a dry stored old school blended fake.  The negatives of this puerh is that there is not much complex aftertaste or interesting throatfeeling.  In fact, a big negative would be the throat scratchy sensation during the active phase of the profile.

*Today is my second shot with this puerh and I’m drinking this in a larger yixing with harder water and there is absolutely no scratchy throat so I hope this was a bad sampling.  The Qi is similarly strong.  The flavours are more bitter coffee and less sweet and complex today.

Compare to these…

This puerh would contrast well to the 2001 Naked Yiwu in that they have a similar storage, and aged incense profile and strong Qi and complexity but are from very different regions and do very different things.  This also has a similar feel and storage to 2004 Nanqiao Bulang King ($125.00) in that they are both likely bulang with a long period of dry storage and some resulting complexity.  In some ways it would also compare to the 2006 Rustic Zhongcha from TeasWeLike with a similar old school processing and randomness but I think the Rustic Zhongcha is much much better in storage, flavor, and mouthfeeling but maybe not in Qi.  This fake has great Qi.  Of course, the I think its price should be closer to the 2001 Naked Yiwu ($168.00)or 2006 Rustic Zhongcha ($174) than the $350 that I paid but it seems that all of the re-releases from Houde are a bit overpriced so this fits.  It also is not as smooth or rounded as the 2000 Hai Lang Hao Bulang Mushroom that Yunnan Sourcing was selling either.  I would also rate this lower in both value and enjoyment to some of the other re-releases at Houde.  But I don’t think any have the wonderful Qi and bodyfeel of this unusual old school fake.

So was it a Good Fake or a Bad Fake?  I suppose it was neither a bad fake nor a good fake overall… but this is coming from someone who enjoys the old school if you were expecting Menghai Factory quality you would be really disappointed with this one.


Thursday, January 21, 2021

2005 Yang Qing Hao “Old Tree” … But A Good Tree…

I got this free sample from my purchase of the 2006 Yang Qing Hao Chawangshu from Emmett…

Dry leaves smell of slightly sweet cardboard with a lighter stone compression of larger leaves.

The first infusion is a watery sort of woody mellow almost sweet, kind of bland, almost sour cardboard taste.

The second has a slightly sour cherry with a mellow cardboard woody background.  There is a bit of sweetness in the sour woody taste.  The mouthfeeling is a bit dry puckering.  The throat has a mild opening.  Slowly awakening Qi.

The third infusion left too cool is a woody almost tart cherry sweet woody taste with a creamy sweet woody finish.  Very standard yummy yiwu gushu type taste.  Powdery mouthfeeling slight faint throat.

The fourth infusion has a tart cherry sour and slightly sweet taste.  It has a nice lively flavor to it here.  With a longer tart cherry and creamier finish.  The mouthfeel has become a nice chalky.  This is nice standard Yiwu gushu in taste and feel.  Nice enlivening Qi.

The fifth has a nice creamy tartness to it balanced with some less creamy sweetness.  This has a nice mellow Yiwu tart cherry taste.  It feels really nice in the body mellow a bit of Heart beat stimulation in the chest.  Chalky mouthfeeling mild opening throat sensation.  Sticky lips.  This infusion is the right balance of tart, faint astringency and sweetness for this profile with a tilt toward tart.

The sixth infusion is cooled down now and is a nice creamy sweetness in a soft silky-chalky mouthfeeling.  Less tart when it cools down.  Chalky lips.  Mild soothing and heart pumping Qi that puts me at a good spot.

The seventh infusion is also cooled down… busy day today… it is a bit more sour and astringent a bit woody with a mouth puckering mild feeling but a nice silky chalky too.

The eighth is a light juicy sweet cherry with less tartness now but a certain sweet tanginess.  The mouthfeel is nicely silky-chalky and full.  The throatfeeling is empty silky chalky.  Some faint sweet tart aftertaste.

The ninth has a more woody astringent dryness to it almost metallic tasting kind of bitterness emerges but mainly sour sweet.  Mild relaxing on the mind now.  More of a dry puckering mouthfeeling.

The 10th is a woody soury less sweet tart cherry and finish more creamy sweet on the chalky tongue when it cools.  Nice relaxing Qi.

11th some light juicy tangy fruity cherry tastes with a touch of creamy finish in a less powdery tongue coating.

12th has some light juicy tang but now mainly watery at flash steepings…. It has a nice soft creamy sweet finish over the sticky tongue coating.  It seems longer aftertaste here as the astringency has now disappeared in these flash steepings.

I check things out on this one and find out that it is a previously unreleased Yang Qing Hao production of only 7 tongs.  Emmett had the whole lot sent to him and is selling them off for $135.00 for 500g (or $0.27/g) cake which I think is pretty decent for such a thing if you don’t mind a bit of astringency.  I think this puerh represents the best/cheapest per gram Yang Qing Hao if you were looking for a solid drinker these days.  It’s better for the price than the 2006 Yang Qing Hao blended brick and 2005 Yang Qing Hao Gua Feng Zhi Huang Pian or any of the cheaper Yang Qing Hao options that I tasted through Liquid Proust sample package.

Overall, this is a more typical Yiwu gushu, nothing too fancy but good and satisfying and compares well to these two puerh:

Vs 2005 Yang Qing Hao Yiwu Chawang- very similar to this one in Qi, mouthfeeling… the Chawang tastes much more sweet where this one is astringent and more sour.  Because I enjoy a bit of the astringency and sourness, I feel that they are pretty comparable to each other with Chawang obviously being the better of the two by a bit. This Yiwu Chawang is the best of these comparisons but also much more expensive out of this group.

Vs 2006 Rong Chang Hao Yiwu Qiao Mu- I over rated this one a bit in my initial assessment of it but it has gotten better over the last few years and lost its harshness and developed a softened date and plum taste.  The 2006 Rong Chang Hao has the biggest Qi out of the bunch but they all have above average Qi sensations which is why I like all three in a general sense.

Overall, this 2006 Yang Qing Hao Old Tree is worth it if you are looking for such things… contact Emmett if you are interested …

Shah8’s Tasting Notes



Monday, January 18, 2021

2010 “Auspicious SanLin” from Emmett G.

This sample was included in a group order of Yang Qing Hao from Emmett Guzmen.  I know absolutely nothing about it…

Dry leaves smell of subtle dry sweet floral candy.

The first infusion has a dry woody clear profile there are some faint fruity nuances at the end with subtle creamy candy.  Taste like a Taiwanese dry stored Yiwu… Has a nice chalky full mouthfeeling.

The second is drier woody bark taste with a slightly astringent dry woody almost fruity not that sweet finish.  There is a subtle creamy sweetness in the finish.   The cooled liquor tastes nicely creamy sweet Yiwu woody.  The mouthfeeling is soft and chalky with a pretty vacant throatfeeling.

The third infusion has an almost pungent camphor wood up front.  There is a dry wood bark profile through and through that is undeniably Yiwu.  There is also a subtle creamy sweet almost candy finish and almost sweet orange blossom.  The mouthfeel is soft and slightly chalky.  The throat is pretty empty.  The Qi is starting to build and feel light in the body.  The profile is pretty clear likely single estate type material.  It’s pretty easy drinking and nicely dry stored.

The fourth infusion has a pungent dry woody bark onset with faint notes of persimmon, pumpkin and orange but mainly mildly astringent dry wood bark.  There is a subtle creamy sweet finish in the mid throat along with a bit of pungency.

The fifth infusion has an almost orange pumpkin onset with a dry woody finish there is a bland taste then to a creamy sweet finish in the breath. A mild and chill Qi takes hold.  This is a common Yiwu taste and feel.  The orange and pumpkin nuance makes me think it could be from Guafengzhi but doesn’t have a full feeling to convince me of it.  Nicely stored lacking in throatfeeling and aftertaste a bit.  Overall nice.

The sixth infusion is left to cool then gives off a very sweet creamy caramel edges with dry woody bark.  The creamy sweet taste with caramel edges is dominant now and this infusion is really delicious.  There is a long aftertaste in the mouth of candy long creamy sweetness.  The Qi is mildly relaxing and focusing.  This is really delicious Yiwu here.

The seventh infusion has a woody creamy sweet solid Yiwu profile.  The cooled off infusion reveals long sweet candy finish in the mouth.  This is simple but very nice Yiwu here.  Simple relaxing Qi. 

The eighth infusion has a creamy onset of woody creamy woods with a nice pungency developing with a longer candy mouth aftertaste.  The mouthfeeling is thin sticky almost tight.  The mouthfeeling is nice like this.

The 9th has a smooth woody with a bit of candy creamy taste.  The tongue coating is really nice kinda tight chalky feeling that catches flavours.  There is a distinct peppermint candy, candy cane aftertaste that is long on the tongue.  The throat is mildly pungent but not too active but it does have some lingering coolness in these infusions.  There is an fruity dried apple taste in there somewhere too.  Nice relaxing and chest freeing Qi.  The effect makes the body feel light.  The cooled down liquor tastes creamy and candy sweet over a really nice tongue feeling.

The 10th has a woody sweet candy like taste.  This is a nice solid Yiwu puerh not that flashy but glimmers here and there.  The taste is starting to flatten out a bit but you still get the same profile of woody dry bark, some faint hints of persimmon and orange and then a longer candy not that creamy anymore sweetness.  The Qi is nice and mild in the body.  The mouthfeeling on the tongue is starting to tighten and dry a touch.

The 11th has touches of incense and dry woody bark with less creamy sweetness and more intense building drier tongue.  There is a faint cool pungent with some candy but fainter and thinner now.

The 12th infusion… Damn… I can’t find the rest of my notes on this one…. What I do remember is that this one is an easy drinker enjoyable but not desirable for me.  Could probably sell for at least $200-250?  I liked the experience with this one- this is what I remember and the long candy Yiwu finish.  Very nice.  Contact him if you are interested.



Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Long Forgotten… 2010 Yang Qing Hao Longtuan Fengmei!

I decided to drink this one without getting any information or reading any reviews before sampling it.  I had only vaguely remember this post-2007 Yang Qing Hao offering.  This puerh came in a sample package of cheaper Yang Qing Hao productions from Liquid Proust Teas  

Very compressed very small tippy dry leaves smell of very sweet but very vegetal smelling melon odour and even a mintiness which smells really nice.  Not typical Yang storage smells.

First infusion has a watery almost fruity nuance to it with a bit of woody bark and coco finish on the breath.

The second infusion has a sticky coating on the lips and the tongue.  It has a watery creamy sweet woody taste with a subtle cooling in the aftertaste.  The taste is watery and woody and creamy sweet with the most distinct feature being a low long pungency.

The third infusion has a woody creamy sugary light sweetness to it.  There is a soft mild creamy sweetness with a soft faint long pungency.  The taste kind of just trails off into the cooling breath.  There is a mellow and quieting Qi to this puerh.  It feels really mild and harmonious in the body.

The fourth has a floral honey taste upfront very light creamy sweet floral honey with edges of melon, coco.  Over a stronger full sticky slight pulling tongue feeling and a nice pungency in the throat.  This is a nicely layered complex subtle puerh with a nice coco backbone with floral, melon, creamy sweet, sugar-honey nuances.  Reminds me of a nice Man Zhuan or Yiwu type.  The long cooling in the deeper throat indicates that this is nice material.  This infusions feels really complete, subtle and deeply relaxing.  The body feels light.

The fifth infusion has a strong honey and significant medicinal taste with a sweet almost licorice backbone.  The sweetness is highlighted in a Carmel, sugary and rich honey thick sweet taste.  The Qi is nice and sedating with a bit of a cheerful edge.  This feels and tastes like a nice forest/gushu type of puerh.

The sixth has a creamy thick caramel honey layered sweetness to it.  The mouthfeeling is a moderately thick chalky full feeling with a faint but deep throat opening sensation.  There is a long faint soft coolness on the breath that seems to stretch these layered honey tastes, somewhat floral tastes, creamy sweet tastes into the throat.  I like what this puerh is doing as far as taste, subtlety, mouth/throatfeeling, and aftertaste.  It really offers a nice full subtle light package.  The Qi is a touch lively and a bit sedating.  It is a strong deep feeling Qi.  It tastes kind of Boehetang, a bit ManZhuan, some Yiwu? Lots going on in a subtle way.  Very tasty to me.

The seventh infusion has a medicinal honey but predominately creamy sweetness that emerges strongly and is carried into the aftertaste.  There is some vegetal taste in here as well as some coco.  There is lots of interesting and subtle depth to the taste here.  With a very smooth body feeling and spacy and happy Qi sensation.  Deep subtle throat pungency and moderate coating on the tongue.  This is nice puerh.  The long sweet honey, creamy sweet, subtle coco and faint medicinal minutes later is quite enjoyable.  It has a very smooth profile through and through.

The eighth infusion has a caramel kind of coco smoothness to it.  It is nicely honey sweet and on a full tongue feelng that is chalky with a deep open throat where a faint coolness can be found and a long aftertaste resides from.  Nice lively and relaxing Qi.

The ninth infusion has a coco forest and vegetal taste with a long cooling creamy sweet with coco finish in the mouth.  The chalky mouthfeeling and mild cool deeper throat is nice.  Nice relaxing even sedating qi.  The Qi is really smooth in the body and feels really nice happy in the mind.

10th infusion has a more bitter building up with some vegetal bitter coco taste with a creamy sweetness to it.  The tongue is a bit sharper with the increase in bitterness.  The taste feels smooth in the body despite its building bitterness.

11th has a bitter coco almost fruity onset upfront.  This infusion strangely reminds me of sweet LaomanE with the bitterness dropped.  It has a long creamy sweet cooling throat and aftertaste with a bit more tropical fruitiness now.

12th has a rich creamy caramel bitter coco which is mainly smooth caramel sweetness that has a long aftertaste in the mouth.

13th has a watery fruity juicy sweetness with a coco mild bitter base.  The aftertaste is still sweet and creamy long with mainly coco base taste underneath.  The mouthfeeling is full but thinner now. 

14th has a creamy sweet with mild bitter coco taste. It’s a rich and sweet taste with coco base is nice.  Nice smooth Qi in the body and spacy mind now.

The 15th is cooled off and gives off a woody almost fruity creamy sweetness.  This infusion kind of reminds me of Youle region.  This is still at flash steeping and giving off nice tasting infusions here.

The 16th is also cooled off and gives a full feeling in the mouth and nice full chalky with a cool pungent throat with edges of creamy sweetness.  There is still a nice long creamy sweet aftertaste with nuances of wood and chalky talc fruitiness.

The 17th infusion I mug steep out and it comes off very nice.

I like this one best out of the cheaper YQH sampled from Liquid Proust.  So I go look at the price and info about this one… this 2010 Yang Qing Hao Longtuan Fengmei goes for$320.00 for 500g cake (or $0.64/g)… turns out that this one is not super cheap.  The site simply states that it’s a 6 famous tea mountain blend.  Interesting, that I could pick out some of the profiles of those mountains above.  Also, interesting that there doesn’t seem to be any reviews of this one out there…

Because it’s actually pretty good…