Monday, January 3, 2022

2003 Chenyuan Hao Tongqing Hao Commemorative Cake: Flavour Parade!

I had been contemplating a more expensive Yiwu buy for many months now.  I have been reasonable restrained in my tea buying lately and was looking for a good enough reason for a bit of a splurge then this one came along… $600.00 for 357g cake ( $1.68/g) fromTeasWeLike.  You can’t really go wrong with TeasWeLike.  Its more finding the style of puerh you like and your budget.

This cake is a tribute to famous Yiwu Tongqing Hao cakes that came before… I have never sampled any Tongqing Hao so that doesn’t give me any reference point but here we go…

The dry leaves smell of fall dry leaf and a subtle sugar and pungency.

The first infusion has a watery icing sugar onset in a full fine sandy a bit silty mouthcoating.  There is a long sweet coolness on the breath intersected by a licorice, slight medicinal cola taste.  The taste is really crisp clean drier natural Taiwanese stored thing.

The second infusion has a rich mouthwatering pungent fruity condensed sweetness.  There is all these little complexities in there- cola, traditional medicines, minty pungencies, woody layers, creamy sweetness.. It finishes cool and expanding sugar and cola sweetness in the mouth.

The third infusion has a rich cola woody lubricating sugar onset with a base taste of faint icing sugar, woody layers, subtle root beer, over a sticky sandy coating.  There is a faint fishy dry storage note but quite faint then it sinks into a sweet berry cherry cola surgar finish.  Lots of subtle complexity in this relatively dry Taiwanese stored cake.  The Qi is a subtle neck massaging Qi with a nice deep rejuvenating with a slow breathing feeling.

The 4th is left to cool and gives off a rich slightly medical and root beer like taste with an oily rich taste and a pungent cola sugar aftertaste.  There is lots of complexity in the medicinal root beer taste.  It has a J√§germeister liquor taste to it.  The mouthfeel is oily and sandy.  Qi is calm with some face tingling.  There is some increase focused attention that I feel here.

5th has a rich complex medicinal taste with notes of sugar, root beer, Fernet Branca (the best), medicinal complexity.  There is also incense notes and woody layers of sweetness.  The mouthfeel is a nice full silty feeling but not too thick.  There is also a touch of faint bitterness underneath.  Nice focusing energy with a deep relaxing bodyfeeling and open jaw and heavy shoulders feeling.

6th has a woody smoke incense onset with some richness and medicinal notes being less here.  They kind of emerge as the coolness comes from the throat and into the aftertaste.  There is a balance of sweet, bitter, bland, astringent.  There is a bit tighter throatfeeling here.  Nice tight almost thin sandy feeling in the mouth.  Nice focusing Qi with heavy jaw and shoulders bodyfeeling.

7th infusion has an oily medicinal onset with tangerine peel, root bear, woody layers and an emerging creamy sweetness.  Lots of complex tastes and subtle Qi feeling.  In the body you can feel the heavy shoulders and jaw sensation.  Nice focusing.  Allowed to cool down it tastes like an oily orange woody sugar taste.  The aftertaste is a nice cooling pungent sweetness.

8th has an incense onset with a medicinal woody feeling there are some coco and sugar notes lots of complexity with a cool sweet finish.  Nice focusing energy.  More of a gripping throat now.  Cooled down it has a deep whisky barrel/ wine taste to it with a sweet medicinal feel.

9th has a sweet oily medicinal taste with some underlying bitterness over a flat sandy mouthfeeling.  There is some coolness in the breath and a sweet bready medicinal taste to it.

10th is left to cool and is a deeper, slight perfume, slight medicinal taste.  Still pretty rich tasting.  Nice cooling pungent breath with cola aftertaste.  Nice heavy shoulders and jaw feeling.

11th is left to cool for hours and it has a deep syrupy medicinal hue with a decent undercurrent of bitterness it ends with a plum creamy almost peach taste.  Some talc tastes and bread tastes in the finish.

I push this puerh with some long steepings and overnight steepings.  At first I get some astringent/bitter woody plum sweetness. Nice focusing feeling overall.

The overnight steepings have a rich prune and plum taste to it with still a nice oily viscosity to it.

Overall this is a really nice Yiwu in a style and era and storage that I don’t have in my stash.  The storage is a lighter Natural Taiwanese and does the strong and complex Yiwu blend well.  This puerh is mainly about the delicious, complex, condensed flavours.  The crazy parade of delicious flavours over a deeper body with still some faint smoke at times and some lesser astringency and even faint bitterness, make this an interesting Yiwu with lots in there to find, if you want to…  Each infusion will take you somewhere a bit different.  The Qi has some sold bodyfeeling in the jaw and shoulders.  The Qi in the mind is more of a standard focusing feeling and slightly feeling good vibe.  The mouthfeeling has a fuller silty feeling with sometimes some gripping but overall back the taste up nicely.

Makes me curious about the 2005 Chenyuan Hao ShanzongChuanqi that didn’t seem to get too much attention when they had it in stock…

Paolo’s Tasting Notes



  1. hi Matt, interesting review, my own wasn't nearly as favourable:
    (hope it's okay to post a link here, please feel free to edit it out!)

    I'd be happy to send you a sample of 05 shanzhong chuanqi which is imho one tier above the TQH

    couldn't find an email for you, mine's

    thought about getting in touch for a long time, glad I finally found a reason to!

    1. Paolo,

      I would say that I agree on the whole with your review. This is a great tasting and complex tasting puerh. It only has a little in yearns of body feeling but, as I said, it’s Qi is just slight and of the standard variety.

      I put an order in for the shanzhong chuanqi… so we can compare- thank you!


    2. *the body feeling although not overly strong is of a very high quality where you can feel your jaw expand and open and a heavy in the shoulders feeling. Quite satisfying body sensations!

  2. Wow, after asking me so many questions and trying to sneakily find our sources (and failing, as far as I can tell), this individual has decided to open another shop? where he is copying the TWL panel selections? What a disappointing lack of originality. There are lots of teas out there to explore, he should try to find his own selections instead of trying to make a quick buck at the expense of our efforts. Wasnt he previously called “enlightenment tea”? SMH…

    1. marco,

      Thanks for clarifying that Paolo is not associated in any way with TesWeLike.

      Honestly, I was not sure how to take his selection of puerh because it is so similar to TeasWeLike!

      Ethically, I had a bit of a hard time deciding whether to support such place. So many questions…

      Is Paolo a part of the mysterious TWL tasting panel ? or maybe a break away rogue member? Trying to further erode gatekeeping? Maybe he is simply trying to make a quick turn around on his puerh purchases as an investment? I think it’s all crossed our minds at some point in doing this. Others like Liquid Proust have also done this in the past as well with a few cakes.

      In some ways he seems authentic in his genuine love of aged Sheng and possibly as a spiritual quest???? Maybe it’s a way to share his favourite puerh purchases from western puerh vendors and recoup some of his hobby?

      On the other hand …

      If Paolo is buying up cakes then marking them up that leaves less for everyone else! And it inflates the prices we pay!

      It also is insulting to the hard work the panel at TeasWeLike (my current favourite vendor) are doing to bring us such great selection of puerh at very little effort!

      Or maybe it might allow for the free market to do what it does with competition and allow for lower prices???


    2. Oh I should have clarified, he is definitely not on our tasting panel, but he regularly asks us questions. I didn’t realize that these questions were aimed at finding sources for our teas. I don’t know him personally, but in my view he is clearly unethical. The point here is that there is a huge variety of great tea out there… I encourage him to spend the time and build up tasting skills so that he can choose his own selection of teas. Don’t just copy another vendor, especially a small one whose main value add is the work done to vet sources and find collectors willing to sell.

      in other news, we are almost done with a 7-member panel tasting of 21 teas… and its somewhat of a bloodbath, we might only get one or two good teas from that entire batch. perhaps we should find a way to make this panel work more visible. Cheers Matt!

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  4. hi Marco,
    I'm sorry you feel like this.

    I'd like to clarify that I never received any information about "your" sources from you or anyone working with you, and I certainly not "regularly asks us questions", unless someone else I'm in contact with works for TWL? please let me know if so? I'm not aware of it.

    "I didn’t realize that these questions were aimed at finding sources for our teas."
    --> please provide some examples? I'm certainly not talking to you and if it's someone else, I have no idea who they may possibly be.

    You and I haven't talked for longer than a year, and even so there's literally 20 messages to our fb conversation, which you're welcome to post if you like.

    I had indeed asked you about where to buy some HK stored tea, to which you replied no, sorry and that was that.
    I had no idea asking would be offensive to you, I have "grown up" in my tea philosophy offline and I never encountered the close-guardedness of sources until then.
    At that point I had a website but so little business I wasn't even registered as a business, it was just a convenient online catalog for my friends. Anyhow, I've no HK stored puerh on nor enlightenment tea, to be clear.
    I now appreciate source-guarding is a thing online, and okay I can respect that (though I'm not sure how I feel about it, sometimes I'm tempted to write publicly everything that I know and see what happens...)

    I do know that we must share some taiwanese sources as, for example, when I tried to buy some of the 8972 brick I had really liked, i was told it was sold out, and TWL started selling it... such is life.
    *I don't have a monopoly on them, and neither does anyone else.*
    As you probably realised, a specific person has let go of quite a lot of 03 cyh tong qing hao in taiwan, and that's why it's currently available through at least two different people that I know of.

    I'm sorry you're offended we're carrying some of the same tea, I've been exploring chen yuan hao for the last year and have been positively impressed.
    The similarity in tea is probably due to sharing a source as I said, these are the ones I've been offered that I find are okay quality/price wise.
    Shanzhong chuanqi has not been on TWL for ages and I'm quite in love with it, after randomly being sent a sample by a taiwanese collector.
    Other shops have sold or are still selling LFPT and qian jia zhai tuos, at the very least, they're not exactly rare.
    I mean I have Xiaguan T8653 on enlightenment tea too, and from before TWL did I think, another common tea.
    We are soon bringing some other CYH not many in the west have seen.

    I had purchased a tong of LFPT and 3 of 2001 mengsa in the past, and I'm slowly letting them go.

    Look, writing goes nowhere, if you'd like to talk "live", I'm happy to.

    It's very easy to attribute negative intention to someone on the internet, though it doesn't have to be. I appreciate it's unlikely you'd be interested, but I've written some thoughts about it here:

    We can either have a sterile discussion here or actually try to see what's really happening. I mean it when I offer the latter.


  5. @Matt
    "If Paolo is buying up cakes then marking them up that leaves less for everyone else! And it inflates the prices we pay!"
    --> you will notice that the price of the tea that are on TWL as well as are lower on, make of that what you will.

    I had bought some tea for myself from western vendors in the past I will probably sell later (most notably the 2001 mengsa from eot), but that hasn't been for a long time, and why would I? Markups are high, direct sources are available...

    as for me being genuine or not, well,
    you seem to be very resistant to groupthink so I trust you'll make up your own mind on that, happy to chat too at any point

    what I can say is that among the people that actually know me have one impression, the others are very triggered by me finding tea "enlightening", ***which I believe it's the real root issue here.***

    It feels the message I get from the established online puerh scene is "you need to be accepted by us, be one of us, talk about tea like us, in order to write/sell tea", to which my reply is "nope."

    I have a vision of tea helping people feel "enlightened" (read: peaceful, happy, satisfied, positive, harmonious) and I come from a buddhist background and I see the two things coming together well.

    Some people find that triggering. Such is life...


    1. Paolo,

      I can’t answer for Marco or TeasWeLike (and we do all like tea) but…

      If someone started a blog on blogger and somehow used that crappy old original template and used a grey background and somehow managed to acquire some of my same teawear and then posted on some of the teas I post…

      I’m not really sure how I would feel about that… maybe good?

      They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery…

      But from a buyers perspective there is mainly the issue that I honestly was not 100% sure if or how you were associated with TeasWeLike- that’s it. And if I was thinking this maybe others will too? And that’s not really fair for TeasWeLike.

      However, I did weigh these things before going through with the purchase because…

      1- I wanted to try the tea and it is no longer offered at TeasWeLike. It was offered last year at $490 and I purchased it from you for $599 so I’m not getting it at a cheaper price but I’m willing to pay it.

      2- …

    2. 2- puerh drinkers generally love if there are two different stored versions of the same cake. Then it’s an excuse to geek out on the similarities and differences and state our preferences. I’m hoping to do this with a sample of this 03 Chenyuan Hao Tongqing Hao Commemorative cake… and maybe if I can get ahold of the TWL 05 Shanzhong chuanqi … it will be fun for all… I hope… and in the spirit of the teas we love regardless of what side we are on!

      The problem is we don’t always get opportunities to do that. It seems like you might be offering this opportunity either deliberately or accidentally… and I accept either! Hahaha

      3- although I’ve never met you personally, Paolo I have a feeling that you mean well and are sincere from the very little I have bothered to read about you on your website. Although, I also come from a Buddhist background, and feel that tea is a spiritual thing as well, I feel I get just as much Spiritual satisfaction from the Puerh that I order from TeasWeLike than I will probably get from your teas … hahaha. But I get how people can feel unnerved by someone approaching tea like this and if you go back and read my earlier blog posts and the comments there are some people who I pretty much just drove crazy especially with my “oneness-isms” …. Hahaha

      4- I’ve taken many classes on ethics and hold an extremely high standard when it comes to my work . No question Marco also has this background. Not everyone has such backgrounds or have taken courses. So I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt. But as you stated this is barely a business, you are not making money on it, and, it seemed to me you are more of someone who is trying to share their passion and enthusiasm and subsidize your hobby and spiritual quest. Places like Liquid Proust, Adventure In Every Cup, and even TWL are basically subsiding their hobbies and giving back. For a buyer and seller, their are different guiding principles of ethics… these are not blood diamonds people … this is tea ( to be completely fair some puerh cakes are definitely worth more than some diamonds)

      5- and really most importantly, as I’ve always said, I judge the tea, and the tea alone, solely on its own merits and look forward to trying some and posting it here on the blog for others to see.


  6. Trying to further erode gatekeeping? --->

    I like to see it like that, I do a lot of work offering samples, nevermind being paid for the time it takes, I've been running any puerh business at a significant loss for years (sampling full cakes is *expensive*, holding stock too).

    I realise that I'm very privileged in having another source of income and this is not possible for everyone and we definitely need businesses to supply most puerh tea.
    But I also do think that at very high quality level we need individuals who are really passionate about tea and share it without profit as motivation more than businesses. Or surely, both.

    I think offering samples and smaller quantities of very expensive cakes is a badly needed service in the community, I know when I was trying to learn years ago it was very difficult without samples available for most high quality tea, I had to travel to Asia a lot which also is not that convenient (and now more than ever).

    I try to be of service, as I'm sure does TWL.

    Our teas may cross again in the future as it seems we use a lot of the same taiwanese sources, but we are not the only ones, just the only ones selling on western websites, these sources are used by many and not anyone's monopoly.


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    1. ***** Please refrain from name calling and personal attacks. This is your last and only warning. Any comments from now on that continue to do this will be immediately deleted ****

      Although I accept your argument as a point of discussion and debate and can even agree to some parts. I can only speak in the highest possible regards of Marco. Years down the road many will speak of him like we do Marshaln. I already hold him in this highest regard. He, understandably, commented to encourage insightful debate and was being honest about the way he feels about the situation and certainly clarified things for me (and probably others readers) without resorting to name calling. His comments on this blog only enrich its content for readers and, personally, brings me immense happiness.

      I am equally happy with Paolos comments and anyone else who can do so without negative personal attacks.


      We all know what this is really about…

      Paolo has broken “The Code”…


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  9. There's no use trying to change the mind of someone that has made it up (on no proof whatsoever) and lacks the dignity to use their real name.

    I'm not a member of the old boys online puerh club and I don't play by its rules but have a different vision, if that to you means I know nothing about tea without trying any of my tea well... what can I do?

    The people with a mind open enough to try the actual tea (or read reviews of who has, which are very positive) will make their own informed judgement.

    For the others, well, you can be a trolling "anonymous" on the internet. If that satisfies you, what can I say to that? Enjoy!


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  11. Marco,
    you have used the word "unethical" about me, without clarifying exactly why.

    Your two statements:

    1) "he regularly asks us questions. I didn’t realize that these questions were aimed at finding sources for our teas."

    2) "after asking me so many questions and trying to sneakily find our sources"

    are, as I believe I've shown above, incorrect.
    Certainly the asking questions part, arguably the "trying to find our sources".
    I appreciate one could conceivably think that having bought tea from someone entitles them to no-one else buying tea from them in the future, but I could not possibly conceive of where my supposed "many questions" are.

    Unless you can produce the other member of twl I asked "many questions" to or showing I asked them to you, it seems an apology or rectification is due?

    I do understand in the heat of the moment misremembering is possible, and I won't go as far as attributing bad intentions to you or calling you unethical (I really would only do this as very last resort, not attributing guilt unless really proven is what I consider high ethical standards)


    "4- I’ve taken many classes on ethics and hold an extremely high standard when it comes to my work . No question Marco also has this background."
    While I have no idea of what university ethics are, I base myself on buddhist ethics and I do believe I have extremely high ethics standards in relation to my work and anything whatsoever in my life.

    I do not consider selling the same tea that someone else does in any way unethical.

    Lying, whether deliberately or refusing to set it right after questioned, on the other hand, seems a much, much clearer breach of ethics.


  12. Matt,

    I take your point that you were unclear whether was in any way associated with TWL.

    I'd point out that the expectation that semi-public sources and famous teas are private might be (partly) responsible for that and that the some significant proportion (i'm not sure whether it can be called majority) of website visitors probably wouldn't have heard of twl or be particularly. familiar with their lineup

    However I shall be working to make it less confusing in the future (mostly I'm working on adding a few CYH tea such as 04 song ping hao tribute, '14 20/30th anniversary and possibly 03 mansa and 03 yiwu zhengshan, and a few other teas in the general section)


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