January 23, 2011

90's Blue Dingxing "Yiwu"

Bug bites and all, I think the wrapper is what lured me most to this tea, very old fashioned looking. I wish I knew what is says. Like most everyone else, I had first seen this cake at Essence Of Tea  and had since read both Hobbes and MarshalN's review of it. EOT has several teas that I am interested in but could never muster up the gumption to pay EOT prices, (nothing personal EOT) Thankfully there are a few of these cakes showing up here and there,  Puerh Shop has a few interesting cakes in the "Aged Tea" section and offered at a price that is more in line with my budget.

The date of manufacture seems to vary depending on your source of information. Puerh Shop claims it to be from the 90"s. Others claim it to be from 2001. I don't think it matters all that much. What matters is the content. So, lets dig in and see what we have here.

The wrapper has turned yellow with age and dotted with oil spots, that's a good sign.


What a chubby cake! I don't know why but it always pleases me to unwrap a new cake and find a nice, thick, chunky, slab of tea. Ummm......yeah I do, because it usually means that the cake has been stoned pressed and consequently will be easier to break apart without breaking the leaves.

Thick and chunky leaves with a generous portion of twigs, I love rustic teas. There is the faintest of woodsy aromas wafting from the cake as well as the smell of wet storage. But as the wet storage smell is not all that strong I,m not too alarmed, I,ll give it a couple of good rinses and see whats left of it.

Whats in the cup is a pretty tasty tea. Woodsy and earthy with just a trace of astringency and some vegetal flavors from it's youth are still in the tea. Plenty of sweetness in both the soup and the aroma. Here and there I detect florals and sometimes spice. But the predominant thing is wood and earth. The wet storage aspects fade fairly quickly as I hoped they would. By the third to fourth infusion the tea has really opened up and it's origins become evident. I bet this tea was kinda fruity when freshly processed, I can barely taste something that reminds me of pears.

This is a decent tea (in my opinion) I can see how it could benefit from further storage but I,m liking it now. A hearty tea with a robust and sweet aftertaste. Very durable, I,m up to ten infusions and it's still going strong but just starting to wane. Brews up a nicely orange"d heading towards amber cup with good clarity. At Puerh Shops prices this is a decent tea. If I were to have bought this from EOT at his prices, I would have been kinda disappointed.

As you can see the tea is comprised of lots of chopped leaf, some rather large whole leaves, and plenty of twigs. Some burnished red and brown, and some still clinging to the greenness of youth. Not bad really, not bad at all. I couldn't see myself stockpiling this tea, but a couple of cakes for future consumption sounds like a good idea.


  1. Bret,

    Great review on this popular cake. This Dingxing presents more closer to 2001 than anything in the 90s. It seems that the confusion was likely created by this (now famous) Taobao dealer- the source where Puerh Shop likely ordered this cake. The dealer is trying to market this tea as something a few years older than what it really is.

    Have been sitting on these cakes for quite some time. Gotta post on this tea soon.


  2. Matt,

    Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, Ive learned to let claims made by vendors to go in one ear and out the other. The exact age of the tea doesn't really matter.

    I,ll be interetsed in reading your thoughts on this tea. Where did you get them from?

    By the way (while Ive got you here) what ever happened to Pedro? I had emailed him a couple of times about suying a quantity of Bahlyocha but never heard from him. Hope everything is well with Dao Tea.


  3. Bret,

    Got the tea from Taobao (direct from the dealer that Puerh Shop likely purchased from) when Marshal'N and Hobbes were bouncing back and forth about it. It looked legit, so one just took the plunge. Hobbes later posted step by step instructions on how to acquire it from Taobao. It really is strait forward and fool proof if you go through Taobao Focus. Hobbes hyperlinks it in the Half-Dipper article you linked to. If you have any questions the people at these Taobao middle man businesses are really helpful and accommodating and make the transactions stress free and informed all the way through the buying process.

    Just emailed Pedro today. Will point him in your direction when he replies.


  4. Matt,

    Thanks for the info and encouragement. Ive been poking around on the site and am trying to figure out how everything works.

    As far as the Korean teas go, I had emailed Pedro a couple of times about buying a larger quantity of Bahlyocha (this was several months ago)

    Maybe I,m reading him wrong but he doesn't really seem all too eager to sell his tea. I did hear back from him once but he didn't address the issue I had emailed him about. Anyways, it is now so close to the the harvest of 2011 teas that I might as well wait and get something freshly made.

    Thanks for your help.


  5. Thanks to your review and all the others, I went ahead and ordered a cake of this for myself from the Taobao link that Hobbes provided. After ordering it I found probably half a dozen Taobao vendors who now carry this tea, all at varying prices. The vendor from Hobbes' link is pretty average, price-wise, but there are cheaper and more expensive listings for what looks like this same 90's Dingxing cake (same ink color and description). I'm interested to compare mine when it finally arrives :)

  6. learning to pull radishes,

    It will be interesting to read your opinions of this cake. I think it's a really good value. Still a little green and a little rough around the edges, but I kinda like it that way.

    Welcome to the world of Tea Bloggers. It's obvious that you have been doing your homework, it's rare for a new blog to come out swinging, as learning to pull radishes has.

  7. These are amazing pictures! Thanks for posting the information and these beautiful shots. The tea community appreciates you I am sure.

  8. Judi,

    Thank you for your kind words. Although I have to admit that I am no photographer. So, it's often more by luck than judgement that I wind up with these pictures.


  9. (I also think the photos add a touch of you-are-there up-close-and-personal intimacy to the review)

    Anyway, it is a great personal pleasure to let you know that the several million visitors to Mattters over the last year have selected your blog as one of their favorite blogs of 2010 (in the top 10 on the Tea channel).

    You can see your blog, along with the other contenders, on the Tea channel at http://tea.mattters.com.

    P.S. We made a cute little '2010 Blogs that Mattter' award that you can pin up on your website if you like those sort of things (you can see it at http://tea.mattters.com/awards).

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    Mattters - Follow Your Interests!