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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tung Ching Tonight

Still working my way through the various boxes sent to me by friends. For the past few days I've been sessioning Tea Classico's 1997 Tung Ching Hao-Chi Chang. So far I've had two sessions, one in my porcelain gaiwan and the second in my Origins Tea 1980s Yixing pot, the latter I recommend to moderate the storage and bring out the flavor on this tea.
I've had one session already.
Neil was kind enough to send me a good size sample of this, which is more than lucky because he isn't currently offering sample sizes of this tea. You have to spring for the entire 357 beeng at $189 or so. I'm guessing he probably has only a few cakes of this and that is the reason for not offering samples. I believe James of Teadb has covered this tea in his recent mature puerh report.
This is about half the sample.
The tea is rather loosely compressed, but this could be due to the humid storage and also because of the number of sticks in the cake. There are quite a few sticks and I notice huang pian, those colored older leaves as well. I suspect given the flavor and maturity of the tea that this is an autumn production cake, but there is no way of being certain. The label on the cake, well I don't think any of you puerh freaks need an opinion on that, you can see for yourself. The tea is what it is, and the cup says it all in the end.
I did pick out some of the sticks before brewing, a few are okay but I don't want the old wood flavor to take over the tea. If I were younger, I'd keep all those sticks and boil them good for a completely different cup. But who has time for that? I can just picture my son having to clean out my tea collection after I'm gone and finding small baggies of tea twigs, and him thinking I went completely demented in my final years. In case I do start saving twigs, I'll need to prepare him for this behavior by showing him how to brew kukicha tea. Never mind, let's hope I don't go there.

Did three rinses on the tea which worked rather well to work off some of that humid storage. First few cups had a bit of tang, I thought, almost sour but not really, just tangy. Leather and wood. Later cups pay off with peppery notes on the throat along with the leather and still a bit of that tanginess which turns sweet. I like this better than the Apple Green tuo, a bit more to taste here. Not superbly thick, but I don't really expect that because the tea is completely mature and aged out, red and brown in the cup, smooth, there is nowhere to go with more storage on this, it's a drink-now kind of tea. More subtle than punchy, which is why I suspect this might be an autumn production of unknown leftovers. The best leaves went into higher premium cakes and the rest got pressed into these. The good news is the tea is still quite clean.
Fourth steep
So Neil is getting good at picking Tea for Old People, this is yet another of those Drink It Now cakes. Save it for too long and you'll lose the tang and warm pepper and just be left with a bit of smooth leather and wood. Got a good 10 steeps out of this with really packing the leaf into my teapot. Then while typing I let it steep and did get a bit of bitterness and slightly thicker brew, very dark red. Nothing to complain about here.

Generationtea.com has what appears to be the same cake for $29 less. The page for the cake shows the neifei and also that the beeng has been in their catalog since 2007. I would imagine their cake has had more years of very dry storage, but hard to know for sure. The lighter neifei suggests, at best, that the tea might have been aged loose and then pressed after the humid storage period. You can decide for yourself. Since I know what I'm getting with Neil's tea, I'd be more inclined to just spend the extra $20. It's a decent aged tea for daily drinking, and I'd feel confident letting puerh newbies try this because all the flavors are easy to pick out, there is nothing obscure that only a trained palate will find.

The only issue for many of us is, do we have too much tea? A sample is an easy decision, if it were available. Many of us are looking for aged tea and unique experiences, and I'd say this is more than worth a sampling. I'll hang on to the rest of this for a swap so someone else can give it a go.

Happy New Year!

2 comments:

  1. modern tongqinghao is vietnamese material, as stated by MarshalN. the leaves sure look like it too.

    also, the generation one looks different. TeaClassico sells a 400g version while Generation Tea has a 350g version. It seems to be a pretty generic wrapper.

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    1. I'm aware of the issues with the wrapper. As I wrote above, I think most readers can make their own determinations.

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