This is the second of the pair of older CGHT samples from Hou De. And it is a highway to hell for my future purchases from Houde. Let's have a look why.
The thing is - it's really very hard to distinguish it from the 99 Dragon and horse (D&H). Surprise? Yes, at least for me. This tea is slightly more bitter and there is not really any of the dark fruitiness which appeared in the D&H. The Meng Sa is also less complex, not having some of the very nice features of the D&H.
I wondered how is this possible. I looked at the leaves:
Leaves before rubbing:
And after rubbing - one leaf stayed firm, the other one crumbled miserably. This suggests that it is not that simple with the "wetness test" of aged puerh (rubbing leaves and checking if they break).
And the two rubbed leaves in more detail:
The leaves are different from the D&H, although the color is similar.
I kept thinking about the strange taste... and then a thought sprang up in my mind; I quickly went to the bag in which I received the samples (paper on the outuside, some metal on the inside)... And the smell of the bag that I cursed earlier already smelled very much like the unusual tastes in this tea. The dry wood and hemp string especially - no wonder the D&H felt strange, for a Yiwu.
And, taking out the sample of the 2003 Bulang, there is a strong element of the bag too - but it is not as surprising in Bulang, so I just thought it was a feature.
I don't think that all the smells come from the miserable bags - there is a slight aroma of cardboard when one looks for it. Maybe there was some bad storage in Houde storehouse already?
I do not care that much where the strangeness appears - the point is, that even though I repacked the received teas from the smelly bags to normal silver tea bags shortly after they arrived, the aroma of bags was slightly noticeable in the young teas and very clear in the older teas. Given the rather astronomic Houde prices, I'd expect the packaging to be all right. It is not that difficult I think.
As a result, I do not really know how these old Cheng Guang He Tangs taste on their own. However, I don't think they could be awesome if a mild aroma of packages overcomes their nature;