středa 16. října 2013

Tasting Origintea: 2001&2 Haiwan HOP, 2003 Purple Dayi, 1990s round cake

While I was quite content with the loose leaf teas from Origintea, I remember that when I tasted some of the compressed stuff, I was unimpressed at best and horrified at worst - which is unfortunate, because the owner of Origintea, Tony, is such a nice chap. Most of the teas tended to suck - these, I'm giving them a second chance (and they are better than they were indeed, if nothing else, weird storage smell in some of them is gone). I think that some of them are a grand example of why overly dry storage sucks - and no, it is not that the tea ages slower and retains complexity, that's nonsense. The tea gets too dry and I don't think it would ever get better. MarshalN has written about one such tea (2001 CYH) here. I'll write about the CYH in future too. 

Today, there's some optimism, at least - it is called "The good, the bad, the bad and the weird".It goes chronologically.

2003 Menghai Purple Dayi
I usually like Purple Dayi and this one is not an exception.

The compression is heavy indeed. Nevertheless, these chunks smell pretty good, of plums, mint and raisins. After rinsing, it is interestingly sweet, with tones of longan - it feels rather northern, but without the occassional northern hardness. There is some camphor in the background, and, unfortunately, an element of hollowness.

In mouth, one quickly can tell that this is a decent tea - sweet, thick, long-lasting (both in taste and number of steepings) and rather tasty. In the first steepings, it feels Mengku-ish, with a mixture of longan fruitiness, overripe garden fruit and some wood. Later, another family of tastes chimes in (feels more like Bulang to me) - some meadow flowers and dark brown honeylike sweetness. The element of hollowness from the aroma is not present at all, which is good.

Both families of tastes work well together, creating a nice, dark taste spectrum, and in means of pleasure, it is not important which one dominates at a given moment.

Overall, this is a very warming tea with calming qi - very good for this kind of cold Oxford days.

2002 Haiwan HOP
Supposedly 50% from Yiwu, I'm afraid that this is a pretty bad tea. Just look at the leaves and color of liquor.

Is this a 2010 tea? No... 2008 then? No... But it surely does not have a color of normal 2002 tea either (I don't think it's a fake though). It has been stored very dry, obviously.

The aroma of dry leaves is a bit smoky - same with rinsed leaves, which add some woodiness and rancid walnuts to the mix.

The taste is nothing to write home about either. There is a rancid nuttiness, generic sweet wood, emptiness and a large component of "plain weirdness".

Qi? No way. Some activity in mouth is there, but I'm not sure if it's a bug (pesticides) or a feature here.

This tea is, in my opinion, dead and gone. Even if you revive it, it will be hardly much good - it's probably better to invest your energy elsewhere.

2001 Haiwan HOP

This one has a bit bigger and better conserved leaves than the 2002. It is also quite without smoke. But that's unfortunately about it when it comes to good stuff.

This is a hollow, dried out tea, without much energy in it. When it manifests some strength, it does so via weird tastes and unpleasant sourness.

It is somewhat drinkable when you have zero expectations, but otherwise, I'd steer clear of it.

1990s Round cake
The previous two teas were largely without positives - the same can't be said about this cake, despite its numerous shortcomings.

The dry leaves smell quite nicely, of nuts. The wet leaves smell rather earthy, but not in a classical puerh way. A lot of red fruit and woody tannins is also present. Some laundry and some nuts finish it up - nothing too great, though not tragic either.

In mouth, the tea is very sweet, in a positive, warming way. It starts a bit fishy/mineral, followed by sweet woodiness (not too great). However, it feels good in mouth overall, being thick and sweet.

After a couple of steepings, the fishiness subsides and gives way to drier woodiness and a taste I'd call "laundry". Simply put, it does not taste very good.

Nevertheless, it causes pleasant vibrations in mouth and the overall warming feeling is accompanied by a qi that takes some time to build up, but is rather obvious (to me, at least) - and which is calming and soothing. Therefore, even though this tea does not taste too good, I would not say it totally sucks - it also has some good aspects about it. In overall feeling, it bears some similarity to Guan Yun Gong teas...

7 komentářů:

  1. Have had the HOP, 2001, I think. This isn't that dry a tea. This is a poor tea, and yes, with a bunch of not so pleasant wierdness. Some kind of Mengsong blend. I believe my second try with it was better, but it's just not a tea one should look for. These Haiwan blends had a bit of a hot streak because they were in Pu'erh Teapot Huashan competitions for 1999 (a yiwu) and 2001 (this HOP), and teashop stocked up on this tea.

    I do think it's rather important to emphasis that at the price these teas are offered, you cannot really hope for excellence. This is purely for those people with the aged tea habit and needing daily drinkers, so let's not be *too* unfair.

    1. I think that the lower price is hardly an excuse - besides, it's not that low anyway. I think the 2001 HOP was something like $150-ish. There is enough tea at that price from early 2000s, that is simply much better.

      You probably can not hope for absolute excellence, but you certainly can hope for lack of weirdness and unpleasantry.

      For a daily drinker, e.g., the 2004 Big green tree I wrote about recently, is much more classical aged style and basically without significant faults. And it's much cheaper too. Same with SKM's Manzhuan of 2004 - also possibly not "excellent", but in my opinion, still a league or two above these HOPs and such.

    2. Believe me, it's pretty low for a 2001 tea. You can get a variety of pedestrian 7542s for that price, and some Xiaguans, but the storage is anyone's game. Anyways, need to press home an important concept: You aren't just paying cash for a good tea, but your own informational awareness. There are an awful lot of teas out there that costs a lot more than better tea, and there are an awful lot of customers who don't know how to drink better teas and think classical plantation labels are the bees knees. Getting good tea is a function of both financial and knowledge taxes. Why do you think the Wistaria teas like the 2003 Zipin stayed at $150 a cake for so long? While the HOP 2001 was $100 for a long while before going up to its current price. Of course, I'd rather have the 2003 Baoyan mushroom than the HOP, as that is more pleasant, more typical, and has some of what people pay for in an aged tea feel. And cheaper besides.

      Next, the 2001 and 2004 BGT offered by aren't the ones commissioned by the XY company, which is why they are that cheap. I'm pretty sure, because no way you don't comment on the smoke typical of those BGT, which are camphor (which I see you mention for the '01) cakes in part.

      The 2004 Manzhuan isn't "excellent" because it doesn't do the thing people want out of a Manzhuan tea, if I'm understanding things correctly, Manzhuan tea is supposed to have a heaviness and flavor in the throat (kind of a winey aftertaste/feel). Zhizheng's Manzhuan from 2005 does this, tho' it's not a great tea. That the Shikunmu tea doesn't do this is a significant fault. At least it's not weird!

      And yes, you should expect teas to not be that wierd, but that's actually a bit more difficult than you might think, especially for teas older than about 2006, because of the indifferent methods and storage in those times.

    3. One reason ZY sold his teas for so cheap for so long is because there's no resale market for it - so there's no reason for any person to create hype around it, so it stays where it does. People who know will go buy a few tongs for themselves, but he won't sell the whole lot to you so there's no way to make money off it. Most of the price you see is the profit for the middlemen who handled the tea.

  2. Shah is right. $150 for a tea with some name recognition from 2001 is very, very low. Prices increase exponentially every year you go backwards from about 2004 and before. 2004/5 is a cut off, before which prices are much higher.

    Teas that can be offered at these prices to the Western market are generally viewed with disdain over here - they usually suck. I tried one of these HOPs and thought it was fine, not a home run, obviously, but I wasn't expecting one.

  3. i didn't mind that 2001 HOP as much as you and Shah. In my notes I wrote, "Faint white fruit in the background, slightly sour" , which sounds like Mengsong material. I also wrote "faint wood" in some of the steeps. I didn't give it a good mark in my little book, but I didn't put anything too bad. It doesn't really stick out it in my mind. The price seems alright to me, for what it is. Marshaln sums it up well, "not a home run, obviously, but I wasn't expecting one.'

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