After the rather upsetting (both in mind, taste buds and stomach) experience with the wedding of Bulang, I thought I needed to go back to older tea for a while. I was greatly impressed by a sample of this 2001 Yong Pin Hao and so I decided I would taste it again and write about it. Although this tea is not for sale at Yunnan Sourcing anymore, I thought I would mention it as I enjoyed it so much. It may appear again after all (I hope it does, my purse hopes it does not).
Scott generally does not present his personal opinions on the teas he offers too much and too hard (which is a most commendable approach in my opinion), but in the description of this tea, he said it was really very good. I thought that since I like Yiwu so much, I should definitely try it.
The leaves are actually still greenish, there is no hint of wetness in the aroma, the tea seems to be dry stored.
The aroma of the liquor is correlated with the aroma of dry, as well as wet leaves - dark and sweet, honey-like.
The taste is excellent really. The liquor is thick, tastes of honey and is very sweet. This is what I call extremely rich and complex. It seems that this tea comes from the less fruity and more nutty Yiwu teas. The nuttiness is also aged in a way, giving the taste of walnuts. I really do like walnuts with honey and this tea is just like that. I got tones of "sweet granary" when I prepared the tea tester-style, but using a teapot, the granary taste mingles with the nuttiness and the result tastes like walnuts. There is some bitterness left, but it is not too much of a problem.
The aftertaste is very good, cooling and and vibrant. I feel sort of spoiled, drinking all this tea from older trees.
"The essence of what is good in puerh" says Marketa, my girlfriend, and I do agree. We feel calm and relaxed.
I think, basing my guess on the taste and mouthfeel, that this tea comes from a mix of older and younger trees as it has features of both. The good thing is that there are enough old trees to sustain the very good and long-lasting cooling feeling.
The long-term aftertaste is not too exceptional, but it is present still. It gives a good fruitiness coming from transformation of the bitterness. It feels mid-aged, not being as fresh as in young tea, obviously, but it is still more fresh than overal feeling of this tea.
The tea is dry stored - maybe a tiny bit drier than what would be best, but still, I have less of a problem with slightly too much dry storage than with slightly too muc wet storage (I enjoy both though). This is luckily not the kind of dry storage which sets bitterness to boost and erases deeper aging tones.
It is not really comparable to the 2003 YPH YWZS - the 2003 was also complex and interesting, but it was like several clusters of tastes put together - a bit of this, a bit of that. This tea is more coherent and feels more "together". If I had to compare it to something, it would be the 2001 Yi Wu Bao Pu Xuan, but that one had a wetter storage and is more aged as a result (and less complex in some other ways). Or, it is also somewhat similar to the 2004 Shi Kun Mu Yi Bang.
I thought this tea excellent and enjoyed it very much. It supports my hypothesis that although post-2004 YPH is often not much good, the pre-2004 stuff is generally very good. The price here was $169 a cake, which is a lot, but I would not call the tea overpriced. True, there is the similar and cheaper 2004 Shi Kun Mu Yibang (also not cheap), but this tea is a bit better I think, having even more depth. Another price comparation may be made to the only slightly (10%?) cheaper 2001 Jin Chang Hao of Yiwu, but like the storage of this YPH cake more.