; Cwyn's Death By Tea: 2022 CSH Jiang Xin Sample Box ;

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

2022 CSH Jiang Xin Sample Box

I just cannot say no to free tea. Nobody teaches a puerh tea lover this skill, and whatever about tea drinking is supposed to teach moderation, well this lesson has thus far escaped me. Really I am not planning to continue tea reviewing, but when CSH messaged me on Instagram asking if I want their new sample box, what I managed to type was "thank you for thinking of me." And left it at that. Next I got an email with a shipping number. 

CSH offered this sample box free to 500 people back in September. After reaching 500, the sample box was to sell another few hundred at around $5 and then increase to $9.99. Right now I see the price for it is marked down to $4.99 with the regular price at $35. But you can still get it for free if you are a new customer to Chen Sheng Hao by signing up for the newsletter. Got all that? 

The sample box is cute and comes with a complimentary cotton shopping bag, which can double as tea storage if you are running out of room on the sofa. The tea arrived in mid-October for me after the harvest shipping vacation passed. You get two puerh samples, raw and cooked, along with samples of black (red) tea. 

First I tried the black (red) which is 1-2g of tea in a pyramid style tea bag. They really need to up this by a gram, I did not feel I got much strength out of this to consider buying 100 tea bags for $100. The tea has the malty chocolate profile typical of Feng Qing area teas. If you need tea for the office where you cannot properly gongfu loose tea, this might be an option. But in purely terroir terms, Yunnan Sourcing offers the same origin tea for a fraction of the cost. It's just okay. 

The sample box contains yet another pyramid tea bag of raw puerh. I passed on this, the leaves looked rather finely chopped which may be fine for a tea bag. But I just cannot bring myself to try this. If anyone has done, feel free to drop a comment on it. Maybe I passed on something good, I don't know, but I binned it. 

Moving on, the star of the sample box is the 2022 Jiang Xin raw (kinda passing by the shou sample). I was not in the mood to like this after passing up the tea bag, but the tea is a decent one. The leaves are very green and this tea might be too much on the stomach for some. I didn't bother weighing the chunk and probably should have, but I assumed this would be a one and dump at first. 

The tea is listed as Bulang large leaf, but also as "mixed," or blended material. The blend may contain other years as my soup had something of an orange tone. The blend is obvious immediately with the first few brews, the hay-like Bulang large leaves mixed with what tasted and smelled like a more floral northern tea. The brew has a touch of smokiness, evidenced by the little pieces of blackened leaves (char) in the strainer, but it's just right and not too much. 

For those of you new to factory puerh, this tea is one of many series "editions," and should properly be understood as an edition. This means the factory has created a series that is likely to remain fairly consistent in the blend from year to year. Factories create many of these blends, and even more in the past 5 years. The "recipes" don't have numbers in the way the state factories had decades ago, like the 7542. This Jiang Xin, translated as "craftsmanship" is thus the Craftsmanship edition recipe, and the series seems to be new in 2021, so we have two years available to purchase. The 2022 retails for $249 for a 357g beeng. This compares to the higher end 2022 Lao Ban Zhang at over $900 a beeng, and thus the Craftsmanship edition is among the budget offerings, although the Zodiac series in the $50-75 range is the least expensive CSH tea. 

In the first 3 brews, the blend is very obvious. I can easily pick out the floral leaves. But the Bulang large leaves overpower the brew quickly. This tea is a bitter goalie kick to the face, especially as the tea cools, and I'm here for it. Reading the tea description, the tea is to have decent huigan (returning sweetness) and the tea made a real effort in my mouth. The bitterness is fully mouth coating and long lasting, pulling hard at my taste buds in the back of my mouth, but didn't quite convert. My cup had a lingering floral aroma that dispelled after three brews. 

As I said, I was not prepared to like this tea, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The tea lacks any of the subtlety of the more pricey Naka and LBZ teas. But it is a powerful tea nevertheless. I got a nice buzz in my face which might be the blood rush to my mouth to cope with the intense bitterness. Oh hell yeah. This is the type of tea I crave in early summer, a bitter strong punch of puerh. 

This tea illustrates why puerh tea is the king of green teas. It's why Chinese tea, Yunnan puerh in particular, is one of the world's most powerful natural things you can consume. I think of malt whiskey or chili peppers as comparisons in terms of strength. This tea makes coffee taste like brown water, and regular green tea taste like weak Kool Aid. Teas like this are why tea drinkers so often settle on puerh as their tea of choice. Really no tea compares with raw puerh, once you get into it. 

I forgot to take a photo of the brew.
It was orange/yellow, as usual. 

Looking at aging potential, we have the strong grade 8-ish Bulang leaves, and the blended leaves. Will the blended leaves age out or get overwhelmed over time by the Bulang tea, which really requires some heat and humidity to age. The difficulty with all these factory edition teas is figuring out which of them will turn into anything decent after 20 years, assuming the tea is well-cared for. And whether shelling out $249 for a decently bitter tea, albeit a blend, is a wise purchase or whether one should should go cheaper if bitterness is really all you want. 

I think if you live in a hot and humid climate which can really care for this tea, it's worthwhile to pick it up, maybe the 2021 since this 2022 year is considered a wetter year. The caveat here is we don't know what the blend is, and there may be some older tea blended in. 

Here is what I suggest. Pick up the sample box for $4.99. Get a taste of this now. If you are in puerh for the long haul, put the Jiang Xin series on your mental list and look out for it in 10 years. A well-stored version in the reseller market from places like Taiwan or Malaysia won't cost less, but decent storage on this tea even at $400 a beeng might be an excellent quarter-beeng split situation with friends. 

CSH seems to be paying close attention to tea chatter in the west. I think they are well aware that the market for the higher end is just not here in the west, and they are trying to promote the more budget side of their offerings. I continue to wish them success because we are fortunate they are marketing directly to us, offering loyalty points and sample boxes. Factory direct doesn't get more accessible than this. 

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