; Cwyn's Death By Tea: March 2024 ;

Saturday, March 23, 2024

2022 CSH Emperor 霸王青饼

 My thanks to Chen Sheng Hao for sending over their latest sampler pack, the 2022 Yi Pen box. 

2022 Yi Pen Chen Sheng sampler

Also, my apologies for the long delay in getting something posted about this box. I have been out of commission with sheng drinking again due to health issues. 

The Yi Pen Cheng Sheng sampler box is a fairly good deal considering you get 7 x 28g mini beengcha, ready to break into four sessions. For $75, this is 196g of tea, not bad at all considering the price of a full size of each of these teas, some of which are not available on the site anyway. CSH samplers are beautifully packaged sessions, and samples really are a must if you are thinking of investing in any of their teas. If this sampler doesn't interest you, the company seems to add 2-3 samplers a year so keep your bookmark ready to check back sometime after spring harvest.

Looking through the description of the teas, the only one offering any bitter profile is the Emperor, therefore the only sample that interests me. This is a recipe the company has been doing since 2008 or so, looking to perfect the idea of an aroma-forward tea. What this means, in terms of the tea, is a company secret; all we know is that blending is disclosed as part of this annual production. 

My session with this tea started in February when I tried to sneak in a 7g session in between high doses of NSAIDs. I managed to finish only two steepings, and was awake with a stomach ache the rest of the night. Green puerh does not mix with ibuprofen, even in between doses. I know that, but it's annoying to be off my tea so I did it anyway and paid for it.

My little beeng is very green, if I didn't have the stomach issue I would have brewed the whole thing in one go, a 9-day binge novena is more my speed. Especially since I don't want to keep these broken pieces in a gaiwan on the shelf; I am trying to get away from this behavior. Also, breaking apart the 7g quarters just cracks the leaves into bits. But, in we go, 7g into my 120 ml gaiwan. I do more like 60 ml steeps. The brew has a beautiful pink undertone in the first steeping, my photo looks a little too orange, but the brew is a little deep, the leaves might have some brown edges. 

The aroma of the brew is almost dizzying, very floral Mengsong/Hekai-ish, with the more acrid and savory tomato vine, that I prefer, muted and underneath. Bitterness does not disappoint, the huigan is so quick, usually such an asset in a tea. I only took two steepings, that is not enough for me to even feel the caffiene nor any unusual qi. The cup floral aroma lingers.

After this, I let the tea dry out in the gaiwan for two weeks. The tea oxidized black along the top. Normally I am fine with that in my own tea, but I considered starting over with a new session because the tea is different now, I honged it a little. To be totally fair to the tea, I should have started again, but my dodgy stomach decided just two more steeps would be better to get this blog post out sooner by steeping further instead. Both of these steepings still strongly floral with a bit more of the daisy stem than before. I am glad this is bitter, because the floral is just so Disney for me. Almost garish, and cartoon, like those neon colors you know are probably not from nature. 

So I accept that blending is a factor, but aroma-forward tea like this has to also be a result of 17 years they have been working on this tea. Is it all nature only? Or have some of these leaves been propagated for aroma? The processing is also a factor, this could be one of those ever-green teas that are meant to be consumed like it is now rather than aged. 

I dried out the leaves again, and had two more sessions, so 5 and 6. This time the heavy floral is worked off, leaving the weedy/vine savory notes that I much prefer. Still plenty bitter, the quick huigan is impressive. 

But I am overwhelmed by Disney-ish over-the-top everything, the green, the heavy floral, bitter yes but quick get that converted, the huigan like a skater showing off a triple quad. Who is this tea for? Emperor implies a type of tribute, or showcase tea, and this tea shows off the factory more than anything, I can see a table of 8-10 people who can together easily share cups of the first two steepings to appreciate the skill of the factory. Executive tea. This would be great for a teahouse experience. 

I wasn't able to finish all of this session. My stomach didn't hurt exactly, because I'm now down to 12 hr spaced doses of nsaids, but it didn't feel great. This tea isn't for me, a home storage enthusiast. The leaves are translucent like tissue, very young trees. I have more to say on that subject, but I will leave it for another post, on another day. The tea had maybe two more sessions left in which I would expect the bitterness to remain, but the floral is mostly gone along with the aroma in the cup. I just can't finish this out.

Again, my apologies for taking so long to review the box, and I appreciate the opportunity, Next year I need to make a better effort to steer away from accepting more samples, my health is too unreliable now. When I can drink tea, I would rather drink what I have now. I prefer the Jin Xiang series over the Emperor, sure the Jin Xiang is a little twiggy but the stems are thick, the leaves are more substantial and processed for home storage. I am certain this tea will not keep the aroma in very warm/humid storage conditions, which limits it for many collectors who store tea.