August 25, 2009

2008 Yong Pin Hao " YiWu Wild Arbor"

I just received a pair of these handmade cakes yesterday from jas-etea. I was wanting something a little different from what Ive been drinking lately.(and this is) Never having even so much as sampled this tea before I knew I was taking a risk but I had read some pretty good things about them and felt it was a fairly safe gamble. Everything about these cakes spells "attention to detail" even down to the paper wrapper, it feels like silk. The Yong Pin Hao gang who are all about using old school, traditional methods have even gone the extent of setting up an on site pu-hut so they can process the maocha in the same area that it was harvested in. Avoiding the lengthy transit time and the potential for oxidation of the leaf. Made entirely from 2008 spring, first flush maocha gathered from wild arbor trees that range from 100-200 years old. The maocha was dried in small batches by hand using woks. And the finished cakes were air dried naturally, instead of low temperature baking which I guess is common practice.

The level of compression is pure perfection, loose enough so as to make prying very easy yet tight enough to hold together and not fall apart with time. The cakes are made from large, whole leaves that are a thing of beauty. The aroma emitting from the cakes is very mild, fresh and clean. Nothing heavy or overly rustic. This tea needs a heavy hand to realize it,s potential, ten gms of leaf is the quantity determined through trial and error. I go for the typical infusion times starting at 8-10 seconds and progressing and that approach works out fine for me. Brews a golden yellow cup with a tinge of orange starting to show up. The durability is good, 8-10 infusions. This tea doesn't really smack of YiWu,s typical flavor profile but there are some similarities to be found, if you look hard enough. At a price of $30.00 for a 400 gm beeng I wasn't really expecting anything too spot on.

The teas aroma is fresh and green. Again, nothing heavy but actually a fairly light, clean, woodsy, faintly tobaccoish, slightly floral tea. Just the right amount of sweetness, given the delicacy of this tea I was worried that it was going to be too sweet. But it,s not, it,s nicely balanced. At the risk of sounding cliche, there is an aspect of fresh spring meadow in both the flavor and aroma. The tea has just the slightest bitterness that quickly transforms into sweetness. This is a pretty easy going tea. Almost refreshing in it,s clean, crisp flavor profile. This isn't a sheng that,s going to kick you in the head. It just doesn't have it in it. Very low key but with lots of class and style. Not to be confused with a tea that,s thin or weak but rather a sheng that,s light and delicate, there,s a difference. With proper brewing parameters this sheng does have a nice viscosity. For my tastes it,s not one to start the day with but fine for an afternoon session when your not up for something too intense.
I cant imagine how this tea will age, I cant see it turning into anything other than what it is now, maybe a more concentrated version of it,s present self. It will obviously loose the fresh, crisp and clean aspects it now has. I also don't see the potential for any real body to develop over time, it,s always going to be a light to medium bodied tea. I guess what I,m trying to say is that I just don't see this tea as having the required traits for long term storage, it,s going to peek fairly young then peter out. I can see this tea reaching it,s potential in about four to five years. But I could be wrong (it,s happened before)
This pu-purchase gave me yet another example of the scope of flavor profiles or styles of tea to be had that I hadn't experienced before. All in all, The Yong Pin Hao boys definately know what their doing. A beautifully made tea that in every aspect shows that they cared about it. A very nice couple of cakes Ive added to my collection, I,ll enjoy dipping into from time to time. But two of these is enough. I guess I like getting kicked in the head, repeatedly.
P.S. Something that I didnt notice during my initial sessions with this tea was that there is the faintest of cooling sensation in the brew, almost mint like. Drinking this tea now I dont know how I didnt notice this before, as it,s there plain as day.



  1. It does look like a very nice wrapper, and also different than most of them at the same time. Nice review, but sad to hear it did not have a bit more kick.

  2. Hi Adam, dont get me wrong. It,s a really good tea but at this point in it,s life it,s just a tad delicate for my tastes. Keep in mind that Xiaguan,s FT line up is what Ive been drinking lately, those teas are perfectly capable of a good, swift kick to the noggin.

  3. I guess I go for that kick too because Pu-erh is my new favorite. And it'll probably remain the best in my eyes for the rest of my life. There's no other tea left to discover that could top it. One thing I like about the sound of this tea and its company is that for the price you have a lot of information about where it's from and how it was produced. I've heard that typically knowing all that ensures a fair amount of accuracy since the fakes usually don't lie about all those things but just omit anything about the origins. --Spirituality of Tea

  4. Ditto! Your on your way Jason. Untill about a year ago Puerh was a part time fascination for me, not an everyday tea. I realize now that Puerh is by far the most complex and fascinating tea there is. So much complexity that each new session you discover a flavor or aroma that you didnt notice before. I could go on and on about Puerh but just start experimenting and tasting and you will surely fall in love with the Sheng. Your becoming one of us now Jason.