All I Want For Christmas.. YangQing Hao Report feat. Grill

YangQing Hao is a Taiwanese brand of pu’erh teas ran by Yang, a collector of old pu’erh. Other than the odd production here and there, Yang produced the bulk of his teas in the mid 2000s. Nearly all of his teas come from Mengla County and Yang can be seen viewed as a greater Yiwu area specialist. A small selection of these teas were originally sold by Houde and later by Origin, but have been sold out and unavailable for a couple years. Thanks to Emmett and his group orders nearly all of Yang’s catalog has become recently available at Taiwanese retail prices.

  • Prices are going up in 2016, specifically for the lower-end offerings.
  • How do you order? Just follow Emmett’s blogger profile and send him an email.
2007 YQH Jincha.

2007 YQH Jincha.

Filling the Void

A whole article/report dedicated to a brand.. And it’s not exactly tea for the masses. Is your pinky finger broken out of its socket?? $175 for a 500g cake at the bottom of the price spectrum. How many cakes are Emmett/Mr. Yang slipping you on the side to babble marketing on how great his brand is?

Tea reviewers have a tendency to babble on and on about how great a lot of teas are. But how often do we actually buy these teas we rant and rave about? This report is me effectively putting my mouth where my money is.

Some of my thoughts.

  • I’m willing to spend a decent amount per gram on tea. I spend a lot on tea and it makes more sense (to me) than spending the same amount, but buying 5x the amount of tea for 1/5th the price even if buying in that manner emphasizes getting good value. Whatever that really means.
  • I generally prefer to drink tea that’s ~5-10 years old and has worked its way through any early awkward stages.. I enjoy older teas, but frequently choose to buy somewhere between 2004-2010. This way I’m spending a good amount on leaf quality and not purely the age.

With these two very basic criteria it’s easy to find plenty of good daily tea, but there’s a distinct lack of options for more premium teas in the west. For instance… You could find some alright semi-aged teas for anywhere from ($0.10-$0.20/g). I own and drink my fair share of these.. But what if you want something nicer?? This is when it becomes unfortunately necessary to rob a bank.

Most westward facing vendors own produced cakes (often the core of their offering) are still young and haven’t really reached the 7+ year mark. More premium beengs like W2T’s 2005 Naka or 2007 Ruichang Hao Yiwu are nearly a $/g. Many of EoT’s teas that fall into this aged + premium category fall into a similar category. And at that point we realize that we’ve ran through nearly all of our options. You could argue that things like the Airplane Yiwu satisfy this but I’d argue that those teas are nice enough to drink, but aren’t anything head and shoulders above everything else. Most vendors don’t even really offer semi-aged teas in this price range, that exists between daily drinking to very expensive..

For the record, I also definitely don’t blame vendors for not carrying these teas.. There’s a couple very legitimate reasons why we don’t see them more.. Most obviously, the market can be very slow to move for items above $100. A vendor once told me that there was almost no point in sourcing anything that costs $100 or more to source. Why?? They just don’t sell and a vendor’s funds can easily get tied up if they buy up the tea and it just sits there.

The solution for modern cakes is to press them smaller. Make it 200g! That $80/200g cake would be ~$142 if it were a full 357g beeng (or $200/500g if we’re talking YQH beast mode cake size). The $120/200g cake would be a cringe-worthy $214/357g or $300/500g. Not really cheap at all.. Making smaller cakes is obviously not a realistic option with older beengs. In what may’ve been a marketing mistake but also simply a product of an older era, Yang decided to press everything into fat 500 gram beeng..

These now-available YQH beengs really excel in filling this void. If you’re already buying teas that are $0.30/g or more. You should cover your eyes at the inevitable sticker shock and take these teas into serious consideration. This is one of the best selections of semi-aged premium pu’erh currently available in the west. The bulk of teas are from 2004-2007, and those being offered by Emmett have been aged by Yang in southern Taiwan (Tainan).

  • Avoid sticker shock! Don’t let those 500g cake sizes fool you. Do the $/g calculation!
  • Storage and preference is obviously largely a personal preference thing. Count me amongst the fans of Mr. Yang’s Taiwanese storage. These teas have matured and are also clean.
  • A 5g session of $0.39 is $1.95.. Just sayin.. Or the $360/500g Teji I love is $3.60 a 5g/session.
  • Another argument on why these teas may be better buys than newer productions. My personal opinion is the leaf quality of many of these teas compare very well with teas being produced now. And they have age!!
  • One final motivation for this report was to write/document how these teas are at this point of time. We have the privilege of having a collection of English YQH reviews online of a few of these teas in their very young tea stages and it’s interesting to see how they’ve developed.

Who’s This Grill Guy?

Grill is another pu’erh head, fellow YQH fanboy, and generally a fan of face-melting tea. He’s tasted through even more YQH teas than I have and I invited him onto this post to provide some additional perspective.

The House Style

I imagine Mr. Yang as the most distinguished form of a drug dealer. He wakes up leisurely at 10:30AM, rolling off of his couch. Grabs a nearby tea pick, chips away at whatever of his cakes he’s got laying around from the previous night (probably just some Chawangshu), loads his pot and takes a hit.. Sometimes he’ll have a customer/friend/addict over and the sheer magnitude of the tea will instantly reduce them into a sweaty mess at which point Yang will have the privilege of writing himself a check. A collector of fine pu’erh, Yang has higher tolerance and needs something much older (maybe a 1910 Songpin) to really get him going. Ahhh. The man’s got the product..

Yang chilling at home.

Distinguished Tea Boss Yang chilling after some Dingjipin.

Yang’s teas teas emphasize smoothness and aftertaste over boldness. These are not Lao Banzhang or Menghai County teas (although he’s pressed an LBZ in 2006). But they are also definitely not bland nor weak teas .. Especially the better teas are known to have somatic effects..

While most of Yang’s teas tend to follow this sort of style, there’s a couple variations in Yang’s own offerings. One variation is tea that can be more aloof and distant in flavor, but offer qi and aftertaste. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those that are more upfront with their flavors. Some teas fit in both to some extent.. The more distant teas can be a challenge for newcomers as the tastes aren’t always as heavy or obvious.

The Rating System

Rather than rate these teas under the rating system I normally do and have the ratings start really high, Grill and I decided to rate them relatively against one another. We chose the Tsangliu as our benchmark at which teas will be ranked up against. As Emmett’s budget favorite and one of the less-expensive (but still good) YQH teas we suspect most people that end up partaking in these orders will have a chance to try this.

6M Blends

The 6 famous mountains (Manzhuan, Youle, Gedeng, Yibang, Mangzhi, and Yiwu) were originally famous for their tribute tea from the 1800s. Supposedly the maocha from the six would be collected at the Yiwu township which was the distribution point to send the final product to Beijing. Yang is supposedly a sucker for tradition as he’s made several blends of 6 mountains. With the exception of Youle (Jinghong County), all six mountains are all Mengla County areas and are part of the greater Yiwu area.

Note: These famous mountains are different from the (in)famous factory of the same name.

2005 Tsangliu ($0.39/g, $195/500g), 20505

James

This is a spring/autumn 6M blend. One of Emmett’s recommended teas for those shopping on a budget and one of the best sellers. It’d also be my pick of the less expensive teas..

Heavier and bassier than the higher Yiwu Chawang. Active/buzzy in the mouth with some qi. Good throatiness. This tea lasts something like 20 steeps which is more or less par for many of these teas. The 2005 Yiwu Chawang is a little smoother and sweeter right now but this is the deeper, more complex tea that still has a little more room to age.

Note: Double-wrapped and more heavily compressed than the Yiwu Chawang.

Grill

Fruity and sweet shifting towards leather in later steeps. Some Qi, decently durable 15+ steeps. Only a single session with this tea a long time ago.

2006 Qixiang ($0.53/g, $265/500g), 20607

James

Had a lot of gnomes whispering into my air about this one before I tried it. Another best seller. This was originally sold by Houde as the Gushu Chawang, so there’s a number of reviews and opinions out there already. This tea had been described to me as a more qi-laden version of the TsangLiu.

Confusingly, Houde also sold this tea as 30% as old arbor and 70% as (presumably) plantation. Yang says this was marked incorrectly and that all of the material is old arbor with 30% of the maocha coming from Yiwu with the rest from the other five tea mountains.

Supposedly a purely spring blend. Very friendly tea.. It’s higher than the Tsangliu, with a friendly sweet stone fruit taste and a strong persistent aroma. Soft, smooth with good textures.. There’s some qi, although not discernibly more than the Tsangliu..

Grill

Generally fruity. Taste is a bit light but mouth coating and after taste are good. Sessions with this tea can vary a lot being a 6M blend. The best sessions have had really powerful qi with incredible durability with one session going 28 steeps! Taste can again range, some are the more typical woody Yiwu with some light fruitiness others are heavy fruit with layers of flavor including a distinct and unique strawberry note that’s pretty awesome when it shows up.

Note: I was incorrect about the qi character in the episode. It’s a different qi. Chinese is confusing…

2006 Baisuixiang ($0.35/g, $175/500g), 20608

James

Spring/autumn six mountain blend that was reviewed by Marshaln a long while ago.

It’s overall underwhelming and even more underwhelming when put into context with these other YQH teas.. It has many of the positives that Yang’s teas have. Soft, smooth, sweet. It also has a nice buzziness in the mouth-feel that I also get from ths TsangLiu. It’s OK for the first few steeps and it unfortunately gets worst as it steeps out..

A weird vegetal bite comes into the soup around steep 5. In the end, it also doesn’t have the same sort of depth of flavor that I’ve come to expect from Yang’s tea. It’s an OK tea I suppose but the worst production I’ve tasted from Yang.

My guess is that this was intended to be the cheap, budget option to the Qixiang and the Qixiang probably sucked up a good chunk of the quality 6FM leaf. This tea is no longer cheap and it’s just not remotely good value compared to all the other teas in this category…

Other Attainable Teas ($0.28-$0.60/g)

This is the price range where I primarily shop from. I have yet to mindfuck myself into buying more expensive tea.. Anything over this and it gets considerably more difficult for me to open up my wallet.

2005 Yiwu Chawang ($0.39/g, $195/500g), 20503

James

Originally sold as the same name by Houde. I picked up a cake of this blindly to test other YQH teas and make sure that Emmett and the Yang connection were legit (they are). Don’t regret having it, but if I were to redo my order I’d pick a different test cake.

This has less overall bite to it than the Tsangliu and is sweet to the nth degree. If you have a cake of this, I’d recommend pushing it pretty hard with lots of leaf and steep times. This also makes it a pretty easy tea to brew for beginners that hate bitterness..

It’s less complex and less good than the TsangLiu and hits a bitter slower. The profile is sort of a herbal candied sweetness with a building throatiness. Some qi and good longevity. The taste isn’t overly impressive and gets overshadowed in sessions with stronger/better tea.

Grill

Single session here as well, a long time ago. Basically a wood leather version of the Tsangliu but overall I feel it wasn’t as good.

2007 Jincha ($0.43/g, $130/300g), 20704

James

My original introduction to Yang, courtesy of Origin Tea where I bought a 50 gram sample nearly two years ago. Amazingly, I’ve reviewed this tea twice in tea of the month reports (2014, 2015).

I’ve always been a fan and it’s no coincidence that this is the tea that drew me into Emmett’s YQH orders. Considering the compression is high, it’s very dark. The profile is somewhat similar to the also dark Qizhong. Dark flavors, plums, leather, really nice aroma, etc.. Good throatiness and complex taste. It also has great longevity and has some bitterness/astringency that goes away around steep 5 or 6 (depending on brewing parameters), which is where the tea starts to really hit its sweet spot for me. Good qi as well.. I own one and would own more if not for the Qizhong…

Note: This beats the Qizhong in aroma and might have a slightly thicker body. Whereas the Qizhong wins in throat activity and qi.

2007 Qizhong ($0.47/g, $190/400g), 20702

James

This has a few similarities with the Jincha and 2007 productions which seem darker in general.

Varying levels of bitterness in early steeps but usually less than the mushroom. It’s overall profile is similar. Has a dark profile, full body, and a nice soft texture. Plums, leather, etc..I usually get around 20 decent steeps out of this before having to push it too much.

Most significantly this tea leaves a really strong feeling in the throat. Good coating and throat balling.. These effects make it stand out a bit from the Jincha. Mouth watering but not drying to the throat with a lot of throat coating. I also enjoy the qi in this one a good deal.

Grill

Darkest flavors of any YQH tea I’ve had. The Dingjipin had some of the darker flavors but mixed in with lots of other stuff. This is heavy wood, leather, caramel. Some spice notes mixed in. Taste is strong and not just for a yqh either.

After taste is also strong, good mouth coating. Pretty good top of the throat feel. Qi was good early and slowly faded out. Session lasted around 20 steeps.

2007 Lingya ($0.50/g, $200/400g), 20701

James

It’s kinda like the Qizhong crossed with a more normal Yiwu. Very focused on the back of the mouth/throat. Less throat coating and balling but more standard. A very stable performer steep to steep.

Has a nice Yiwu form centered around a back of the mouth and throat sweetness. Dark cherry sweetness. Good, quick, and active huigan. Floral, leathery, some hints of tobacco. Sits heavily in the throat and lasts longer than the Qizhong. The tea eventually thins out around 13 or 14 steeps but maintains a lot of the back of the mouth sweetness and activity for a while after the body has mainly thinned.

2011 Kuyun Bulang ($0.28/g, $140/500g), 201101

James

Would put this a notch down beneath the bulk of YQH Mengla teas. Still a decent tea. This crossed me as an unusual Menghai County tea. More of a sweet-leaf Bulang with some but not a ton of bite.

The endurance is alright, but not on the marathon level of the rest of YQH and while the first four or five steeps are quite good it falls faster than the YQH Mengla teas. Late steeps are basically sweet water with huigan. Definitely a decent tea and a very decent value vs. other vendor (this would be $56/200 gram cake!!!!!). That being said, I’d personally rather spend money on other YQH over this.

Grill

A Bulang trying to act like a Yiwu. YQH house taste, wood and leather and such, little floral, some qi early but didn’t last. Don’t remember all that much from this session cause it wasn’t all that memorable. To be avoided, no reason to buy this when you can spend an extra $35 and move up the a good yiwu tea with more age on it or settle for a little less tea and get an excellent Bulang from EoT that actually tastes like a Bulang.

Older Teas

These were pressed by Yang in 2007. In my opinion, they’re likely not the best value in the collection and don’t really show what makes YQH really good. I suspect these were intended to be more mature daily drinkers.. That being said, you could do a lot worst than $0.35/g for Yiwu tea (Micang) from the late 90s.

1999 Micang ($0.35/g, $175/500g), 9902

James

Smooth,earthy. A little less sweet and much less active than the younger productions. Huigan is still very good. In general is less compelling and dynamic than even the cheapest of the younger YQH. Some fruitier, malty, vanilla notes come out late. Would be a decent enough daily drink but I chose not to buy for reasons similar to the 2011 Bulang.

Grill

Standard aged Yiwu, sweet wood, leather, spice. Quality daily drinker but too expensive for what it is.

1999 Jin Tuo ($0.48/g, $120/250g), 9901

1999 Cangmi 1kg Brick ($0.30/g, $300/1000g), 9903

Ref $ Quantity Cost/g James Rating Grill Rating
1999 Micang 9902 $175.00 500 $0.35 TL-1.5. TL-.5.
2005 Yiwu Chawang 20503 $195.00 500 $0.39 TL-1. TL-.25.
2005 Tsangliu 20505 $195.00 500 $0.39 TL. TL.
2006 Baisuixiang 20608 $175.00 500 $0.35 TL-3.
2006 Qixiang 20607 $265.00 500 $0.53 TL. TL+1.
2007 Qizhong 20703 $190.00 400 $0.48 TL+1.5. TL+1.
2007 Jincha 20704 $130.00 300 $0.43 TL+1.
2007 Lingya 20701 $200.00 400 $0.50 TL+1.5.
2011 Bulang 201101 $140.00 500 $0.28 TL-1.5. TL-.25.

TL=Tsangliu.

GFZ (& Other Expensive Tea)…

YQH is not a cheap brand. Approximately half of his catalog lies above the $0.60/g range. In addition to the six famous mountains, he’s made his fair share of eastern/near the border Mengla teas. He was one of the earliest pressers of Guafengzhai and Bohetang, with his earliest GFZ production dating back to 2004 and culminating in 2006 with three pressings of Guafengzhai.

2004 Dingjipin ($1.16/g, $580/500g), 20401

James

Stupidly high sticker shock for this one. This is said by Yang to be from the famed Chawangshu area of Guafengzhai. I got the center of the beeng, but also had enough for two 5g gaiwan sessions.. Unlike Grill and perhaps because of the part of the beeng I got, I didn’t find this to be uber-complex. But I do agree that it is an excellent tea, at the top of what I’ve tasted from Yang’s teas.

Lower register, much more oily thickness when put against the Teji. It’s also lower than all of the other 2005 onward productions occupying a similar decibel range as the less premium 2007 CGHT Yiwu Chawang. Nice, slick, mouthfeel. Creamy vanilla earthiness. Great throatfeel. Malty aroma. Heavy qi.

It’s got better qi, thicker soup and brews for what seems 30 times. Herbal, malty.

Grill

Where to start. Most complex flavor of any tea I’ve ever had. Layers upon layers of flavor, each one well defined and separate from each other while still working in perfect harmony. Very unique compared to other teas I’ve drank.

The thickest of any YQH tea so far. Good oil, coating, aftertaste, huigans. Durable at 20+ steep. Powerful and durable qi. Strong feeling in the throat reaching all the way to the stomach might be an understatement, my insides were on fire giving the tea a very lively feeling. Overall in a class of it’s own in both quality and price.

2004 Tejipin ($0.72/g, $360/500g), 20402

James

This is more of a standard Yiwu than the GFZ. But is of excellent quality.

Very well put together in all regards. Dense body, very smooth. Dark plum/apricot aroma, wood. It’s overall a little higher than the Dingji and 2007 productions but a pleasant mixture of low and high. My favorite part is the returning throat feel and depth of taste that extends down into the chest. Pay close attention to the aftertaste which is also excellent. It also has some of the best qi of any of the YQH productions.

If you have the money and want to experience what really good Yiwu tastes like this outshines many of the other teas.

Grill

East mengla flavors of wood, leather, vanilla, little plum and spice. Taste is overall light but was better on my second session. After taste is surprising good and long lasting for a tea with such a light taste. I attribute this to the good leaf quality and mouth activity. OK thickness but nice oil. Silky smooth and velvety mouth feel. Best huigans, some of the best of any tea I’ve had the pleasure to drink, big floral bombs with every breath. 17 – 22 steeps is what you get out of this on average. Strong Qi here as well, second to only the Dingjipin. Good throatiness but not quite to the Dingji level.

2004 Tuocha ($0.67/g, $200/300g), 20403

James

I had two dramatically different sessions with this. One good, but with regards to cost disappointing and the second being a bit more satisfying (captured on the episode).

First session. Sweet, sweet, sweet. Soft body. Smooth. A nice vanilla, creaminess. Definitely in the higher/fruitier/light wood category. Nice layered textures and back of the mouth/throat sweetness. Very friendly in general. Aroma is sweet fruits. This is a very nice tea, but dare I say a bit boring in Mr. Yang’s catalog.

Second session. Fairly different experience. Less sweet and more interesting. Denser, maltier. Less fruity when put against the 2006 QiXiang. More earthy notes and a bit deeper than that tea. For the price, I’d still prefer to spend mroe and get the Teji, but this is better than the first session indicated.

2004 JenTsang Chawang ($0.68/g, $270/400g)

The tea originally sold as the Special Reserve on Houde and likely on Origin Tea. Supposedly 100% GFZ with two productions, running 500g and 400g.

2004 Jinhao Chawang ($0.78/g, $310/400g)

2004 Jincha ($0.67/g, $200/300g) 20404

2005 ShihSen LingHuangShanCha ($0.70/g, $350/500g), 20501

James

Supposedly Guafengzhai.

This tea excels in body, throat-feel and qi. A worst version of the 2006 Chawangshu and I think people will do better spending the extra $50 on that tea. A bit drier and more nutty/floral although that may just be my sample. Powerful effect on the throat.

I found my single session to have heavy, powerful qi that almost sent me back to sleep. In addition to the qi, the other significant aspect is the outstanding throat thickness as well. Chawangshu wins by far in overall taste and by more minor counts in body and qi.

Grill

Wood herbs and spice (hmmm have we seen this before). Medium qi strength but good quality, uplifting and energetic, drink this and feel awesome type of deal. Thicker than most yqh with pretty long lasting after taste.

2005 Tingchipin ($0.50/g, $250/500g), 20502

Grill

Fruity and complex flavors. Thinking this might be a 6M blend. Good qi. Not that durable as the fun was over by steep 12 or so on both sessions. Slightly disappointed in this one but only cause I felt the Qixiang is better and cheaper. Still a good tea though.

2006 WuShangMiaoPin ($1.00/g, $500/500g), 20601

Grill

Good qi in the early steeps slowly fading out as the session progresses. Not much sweetness, mostly wood and spice with a very distinct nutmeg and cinnamon note. It gives this tea a very unique character that places it somewhat higher  up than most. Thicker than the average yqh. Decent throat feel.

2006 Tianxiangpiaopin ($0.63/g, $380/600g), 20602

2006 Lungyafengqian ($0.76/g, $380/500g) 20603

2006 Tianpin ($0.92/g, $460/500g), 20604

Grill

Ultra small sample. Honey, honey flavored tea and not just the sweetness, has the floral and spicy notes of honey as well. One of the thicker yqh teas, giving some ok mouth coating and aftertaste. 0 and i mean 0 throat feel, disappointing there and just a smidgen of early qi. Honestly sample was too small to judge.

2006 Wu Yangcha ($0.76/g, $380/500g). 20605

James

This is like a better version of the Qizhong crossed with the 6M blends. A variety of effects in the throat. Thickens up on the second steep and becomes more dark cherries and minerals.

Oddly, this also feels more dryly stored and I’m guessing this has to do with the sample I got (presumably from a sample cake). The taste is mainly fruit, floral and bits of old smoke that reminds me of the Qizhong on some sessions. The aftertastes are very good, especially in the throat where it excels. Lots of activity and the taste lasts for a very long time. There’s also some buzzing left on the mouth. It has similar flaws to the Qizhong with some consistency issues with the thickness and bits of roughness. The longevity also falls off quicker than the Teji.

Grill

This tea was a strong starter but lost steam fast. First few steeps had a bit of a creaminess, some vanilla, and honey to go along with the typical yiwu flavors. Thin overall and the initial complexity fades into pretty much just wood.

Bit of astringency and bitterness and somewhat rough. No throat, little qi, very little huigan and so so aftertaste. At the end of my notes I wrote in all caps “I’M NOT LOVING IT” this was pretty disappointing for a $380 tea.

2006 Ye ChaWang ($0.60/g, $300/500g), 20610

James

Supposedly a spring + autumn blend.

Huge leaves even compared to everything else. Much thinner soup viscosity than its counterparts. It is smooth, slick rather than the thick, more robust taste of the bulk of its counterpart. The taste is also different. A little floral/green, bits of sugarcane, a little spicy. It has good effects on the throat, but doesn’t leave the same sense of satisfaction as others.

This is a fun enough tea to drink, but there’s no chance of me paying that cost. The fact that this tea is so expensive also makes me feel pretty good about the 2006 CGHT Yecha (another tea with autumnal leaves). I own three of those and while it isn’t on the same level does many of the same things at lower levels, and was acquired at a fraction of the cost of the Ye Chawang.

Grill

Thin, similar in taste to the teijpin, wood leather and spice but with less to no higher notes. Still green tasting and a bit rough which is very unlike almost any other yqh tea I’ve had. Some ok huigans early and better than average qi.

2006 Chawangshu ($0.80/g, $400/500g), 20612

James

Allegedly from Chawangshu, Guafengzhai.

Excellent qi that extends down into the chest. It’s fairly front-loaded but rates very highly. Some herbalness. Good soup viscosity initially and a very clean soup. Taste is stone fruits and wood. Buzzing in mouth. Great tastes in the throat. As it steeps out it becomes more dominated with darker, leathery notes.

Grill

Rich creamy tea, incredibly smooth. Lots of vanilla and plums. Strong mouth cooling effect that continues down into the stomach as you swallow then rising back up as you like to say in some strong tasty huigans. Tea is thick and oily coating the mouth from front to back. One thing it was lacking was a sustained throat feel even with all the activity going with this tea.

2006 Lao Banzhang (500g), 20613

This stands out in the YQH catalog. Not available. Was reviewed in The Leaf.

Grill

Small sample. Big fat floral(but pleasant) and chocolate bitterness initially changing into sweet sweet sugar, amazing huigan. Qi was strong and might have been better with more leaf. Thick and oily with fantastic aftertaste.

Throatiness was present but a bit light. Not sure what lbz is supposed to do in that department

2007 Shishehshenpin ($0.99/g, $495/500g), 20703

James

Drank my sample of this the same day as the Qizhong and Lingya.

The most complete of all of the 2007s. Smoothest and with the most depth of throat feeling. Has a smooth, slick feeling going down the throat and a similar throat balling to the QiZhong. This is also a dark Yiwu with a leathery aroma. One difference between this and the other teas is a notable maltiness that creeps in on steep 4 and persists for some of the middle steeps. Body isn’t noticeably bigger than the Qizhong or Lingya but it has a solid, consistent form that doesn’t thin out as quickly.

I personally would not pay $495 for this and don’t find it too much better than the Lingya or Qizhong, but I do consider it the best tea that I’ve tried from their 2007 line.

Grill

Strong high quality qi, uplifting and energetic. It fizzled a bit early but that could be from a small chopped up sample. Dark bassy flavors similar to other 07 yqh teas. Average YQH thickness. Good and strong aftertaste with spicy and floral huigans.

2007 600 Yr ($1.20/g, $600/500g)

2009 Yiwu 888 ($1.00/g, $500/500g), 20901

888 cakes produced.

Grill

To start, this tea is good, really good and expensive but worth every penny. Initially has that lovely vanilla cream slickness that other premium yqp teas have and some floral youthfulness. Later steeps are more typical YQH Yiwu, wood leather spice, the whole nine yards. Strong qi, amongst the strongest of any YQH, of the relaxing, narcotic type. Very Strong lasting aftertaste, big time throatfeel going straight down into the stomach, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars, with huge blooming huigans coming back up. Some heavy mouth drying later in the session along with some astringency. This tea is still a few years off being that first maturation stage but its a lot closer than say the Bohetang.

2010 Lungtuan Fengmei ($0.35/g, $175/500g), 201001

6FM blend.

2010 Shenyuntianchen Bohetang ($1.30/g, $650/500g), 201002

James

This is not GFZ, but it’s an even scarcer perhaps more expensive area. Bohetang is another eastern Mengla region, and this is probably one of the earliest productions of Bohetang.

Thick thick thick. It may be the thickest of all the YQH I’ve sampled. The tea remains thick for a very long time too. It also has an incredible mouthfeel and mouthcoat. Qi is also the real deal. Right now the tea feels transitional and many of the outward flavors are a bit muddled and not as focused as Yang’s older teas. This is also a bit of an issue with the slightly younger Bulang, although not as much.

Pretty obvious flavor here and more bitterness than the Bulang. It also is one of the most complete of all the teas in terms of body, qi, longevity, etc. It better be as you’re paying good money for it!

Grill

Very warming tea, warm belly hug (someone else’s words but I’m stealing it). Plenty of feeling in the throat reaching into the chest a bit. Flavors are still very young and floral and the tea was pretty bitter. This one needs more time and humidity to reach that first stage or maturation. Some qi but as strong as I would have thought for such an expensive tea.

2011 Jinya ($0.47/g, $235/500g)

2011 Tiantsang ($0.80/g, $400/500g)

2011 Tianshan Yijen ($1.00/g, $500/500g)

Ref $ Quantity Cost/g James Rating Grill Rating
2004 Dingjipin 20401 $580.00 500 $1.16 TL+3.5. TL+3.5.
2004 Tejipin 20402 $360.00 500 $0.72 TL+3. TL+2.
2004 Tuo 20403 $200.00 300 $0.67 TL+1.
2005 YSLHSSC 20501 $350.00 500 $0.70 TL+1.5. TL+.5.
2005 Tingchipin 20502 $250.00 500 $0.50 TL+.25.
2006 Wushangmiaopin 20601 $500.00 500 $1.00 TL+1.
2006 Wuyangcha 20605 $380.00 500 $0.76 TL+2. TL-.25.
2006 Yechawang 20610 $300.00 500 $0.60 TL. TL+.25.
2006 Chawangshu 20612 $400.00 500 $0.80 TL+3. TL+1.75.
2006 Laobanzhang 20613 500 TL+2.25.
2007 Shishehshenpin 20703 $495.00 500 $0.99 TL+2.  –
2009 Yiwu 888 20901 $500.00 500 $1.00 TL+2.25.
2010 Bohetang 201002 $655.00 500 $1.30 TL+2.5. TL+1.

2004 YQH Dingjipin

The Beast aka 2004 Dingjipin. Source: YangQing Hao.

TL=Tsangliu

Recommendations & Closing Thoughts (by James)

Whelp. That’s about it. An absurd amount of tea that ranges from pricy to very premium. My personal picks depending on the sort of buyer you are.

The Cheapskate (2005 TsangLiu)

Alright. You’re not really a cheapskate since none of these teas are actually cheap. But you do want to spend the bare minimum and experience these teas. Hell, you might even split a cake with a friend. I’ve had an ongoing argument with a couple people on the merits of the TsangLiu and the other six famous mountain blends (Qixiang). While I don’t think they’re the best teas in Yang’s catalog, I think they are very friendly entry points to more premium tea for those that don’t want to spend too much and are a significant step up from your $0.15/g semi-aged daily drinking cake.

The Tsangliu comes out to $0.39/g. That’s a $139/357g cake or a $78/200g cake. To me this is a perfectly acceptable price for the quality of this tea.. Others have argued that people should aim for better teas, but in my opinion this would still be money well-spent and I’d definitely choose it over buying young tea from a western vendor.

~<$0.50/g Value (2007 Qizhong)

The Qizhong is my personal pick and the tea I’ve bought in the largest quantity. That being said, this is not the absolute best of Yang’s catalog and there’s a few dissenting opinions on the tea. I’d personally rank it well above either of the cheaper 2005 productions (Yiwu Chawang, Tsangliu).

The 2007 Jincha is also a reasonable buy and is slightly cheaper. It’s similarly dark, but also a distinctly different tea.. One minor note here concerning the compression of the jincha. It’s very tight and if your ultimate goal is aging it further I’d be concerned with the deadly combination of high-compression and dry-western climates slowing the aging way down.

The Stamp Collector

You should just write a blank check… Ahh in all seriousness. I’d grab the Bohetang and at least one of the Chawangshu teas (Dingjipin or Chawangshu). These prices are going to be hard to beat for these teas from those regions. And they’re aged… You’re probably out of luck with the LBZ, but the 888 may also be worthwhile because it’s a lower production run.

More Premium (Teji/Chawangshu)

In my opinion, the Teji ($0.72/g) is one of the best teas that is easily available for under $/g. Just a very well-balanced tea that holds up well against nearly everything. It’s not as bassy/heavy as some of the Guafengzhais or the 2006 Chawangshu, which brings me too…

2006 Chawangshu ($0.80/g). This is tea purportedly from the highest-profile area in Guafengzhai. Oh and it has nearly under 10 years under its belt and it comes under $/g. At $160/200g or $285/357g it’s definitely not cheap but it rates very well in nearly every category. Kind of a Superman/Captain America sort of tea.. Thick, oily, good qi. I find it’s one flaw to be its stiffness. This is especially noticeable when put against the Teji. Despite the Chawangshu winning in metrics like thickness and heaviness, I just feel that I personally enjoy the Teji more. The 2004 Dingjipin used to cost $780 and now is down to $580, would be another good choice.

Of course the only real solution is to tong all three….. Now…….. Who’s in to rob that bank and fill up some Christmas stockings?

Chugging the leftovers of the last YQH samples to try. Feat. 04 dingji, teji, and 06 chawangshu.

A photo posted by James (@teadborg) on

This entry was posted in Article, Drinking Report, Raw Pu'erh, Tea Musings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to All I Want For Christmas.. YangQing Hao Report feat. Grill

  1. Connor says:

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for putting this together. These awesome teas wouldn’t have shown up on my radar otherwise.

    I agree with the unit economics on $/g — that being said, blindly fronting the cash for a 500g premium cake is just completely outside of my comfort zone. Really hoping I can find a way to go halfsies on some of these cakes!

    • James says:

      Hi Connor,

      Sorry for the slow response. Hope you had a chance to get on these. I think Emmett may’ve been willing to send out samples for a small fee. Totally get the reservations though.

      Cheers!
      -James

  2. Emmett says:

    For those who are wondering there are some price changes to most cakes, some premium cakes are down in price!

  3. Cwyn says:

    Guys, this decimal rating system of numbers like 1.5 and 2.5 isn’t meaningful, a .5 or even a whole 1 point just isn’t a significant distinction when making shopping decisions of one tea over another. Especially when the price ranges are >$300 between a few of these teas. The article is really great, but I was hoping for some convincing distinctions between these teas given the hard drinking you all did, and how much of a $$$ up front investment this Facebook group buy entails.

    • hgshepherd says:

      Cwyn, I agree that it’s difficult to choose among all these teas… there are 33 cakes on Emmett’s price list! Maybe there’s a business opportunity for you here?

      Say eight serious-minded prospective buyers agreed on ten cakes to sample (for argument’s sake let’s use the ten best-ranked cakes above). Each buyer puts up $526.25 ($4,210 in total to cover the cost of the ten cakes) plus a bit more for the shipping and packaging. The coordinator (you?) collects the funds, orders and receives the cakes, breaks each cake into ten equal pieces and then sends eight of those pieces to the eight buyers. You’re thinking 10 – 8 = 2… and yes, the perk is that the coordinator gets to keep two pieces of each cake for her troubles (one should be the centerpiece so that no buyer has to suffer with bing hole samples as James did).

      It’s a classic win-win. The eight buyers get decent-sized samples (30g-50g depending on cake size) for a 25% premium to whole-cake pricing which is less than the markup most vendors charge. I know I’d be interested in an arrangement like this since it’s preferable to learn you don’t like a cake from a 50g sample than from blind-buying a 500g bing (as Connor states above). The coordinator gets to stuff her crockpots with free tea which enables her to make her own informed buying decisions on a range of tea without relying on arcane over/under rankings from over-caffeinated web pundits.

      So what’s it gonna take to get you to put something like this together?

      • Cwyn says:

        Emmett coordinates the group buys. You should email him if you are interested in samples. Liquid Proust has been doing smaller sample group buys via Steepster.

        $500+ is too much, in my opinion, for samples. I don’t buy samples myself as a rule. I’d rather spend that same money and get a beeng of something. The article here gives enough information to make a decision. My dilemma is whether this tea is better than what I already own, and I’m not convinced that it is. For someone starting out building a collection, might be worth an order, though.

      • James says:

        Mmmmmm… This was a good idea, although I suspect it never happened. Had a chance to try these yet, hgshepherd?

        -James

        • hgshepherd says:

          Tried the ’07 Jincha first. The compression is way too tight… lost about 30g (10%) to dust disassembling the damned thing with a hammer. The first four steeps had a strong off-note like overripe or rotten apples, after that went away it settled into a nice leather and incense groove. Decent qi, but more trouble than it’s worth.

          Then the ’04 Tejipin. Nice wood, leather and spice profile, but marred by a gluey mouth-feel that suggests too much pectin. The taste gave out on me around steep 6, becoming very thin after that. I wasn’t impressed since I got similar taste profile from a bing sold at Chawangshop for under a hundred bucks (I’ll let you know which one after I’ve bought a couple more) without the excessive pectin.

          Finally the ’07 Qizhong. I can see why you like this one James. No off-taste, strong qi, decent flavour through steep 10 then gracefully faded over another ten steeps. Very enjoyable for the price and one I might well buy more of.

          There are a few others I’d like to try, but there’s no chance of my buying full bings without trying samples first.

          • hgshepherd says:

            I should add that I’m glad I had a chance to try these teas. Emmett’s doing the tea world a favour by arranging these group buys… thanks for that!

          • shah8 says:

            Eh, the taste really isn’t the thing for YQH.

          • Puyuan says:

            I could understand mouthfeel being an issue if we got to the higher viscosity of things like olive oil, but I doubt that will ever happen with tea. Was it really that distracting?

          • brian says:

            Mmm… I find the teji’s mouth feel very nice. Perhaps what you think of as gluey I think of as thick and pleasantly mouth coating

          • James says:

            Hgshepherd, thanks very much for contributing your notes..

            Quite interesting to hear about the Teji. I’ve heard of another drinker feeling a bit uncomfortable with it too. More for me I say :).

            Yes, Qizhong remains a favorite although it can be one a little inconsistent now and then.

    • James says:

      Hi Cwyn,

      Appreciate the feedback and I understand the criticism here. It’s hard to set a standard sort of benchmark so we opted for a relative comparison rather than having the teas all some variation of Very Good. Am definitely open to ideas on a cleaner, better rating system!

      Cheers,
      -James

  4. hgshepherd says:

    I think we agree that the article and rating system do a fine job showing the guys’ relative preferences among all the YQH teas. I realize now that the point of your original comment was how can we know where the higher-rated YQH teas fit into the broader tea context given the non-standard rating system. For that, I cross-referenced other writings on YQH by James, Grill, shah8, TwoDog and others, and came to the conclusion that a couple probably are worth owning at the current prices (YMMV, I don’t already have a closet full of 2005 Naka waiting to be savored).

    What surprised me is that some of these teas have fallen in price. James wrote above that the well-ranked 2004 Dingjipin “used to cost $780 and now is down to $580”. TwoDog’s January 14, 2014 blog posting on the 2007 Qizhong noted that with its “retail price around $270 for a 400g cake, this is a good value for this quality of aged gushu puer” and that cake’s now available for $190. Is another puer bubble bursting? Or is it just a case of one brand that got ahead of itself? If only there was a magic button we could press to invoke shah8 to enlighten us!

    • Grill says:

      I think the prices changed for a few reasons. First some cakes were just valued wrong imo. The dinji, while my favorite tea was just never going to sell at 780. From what I know a couple people have already purchased some at the new price, which pretty much shows that people wanted the tea but not at the crazy amount of 780, this applies to the otehr cakes as well. Some cakes did go up as well, 150 dollars for one cake in particular. On the qizhong going down what is now 70 dollars compared to Origin, Tony was selling for profit, and probably not much at 270 even a few years ago. Emmett is doing this out of kindness and its pretty awesome. Good bit of work organizing these buys and then packing up each individual order to send out to people . He gets to save some money on shipping and maybe gets some free samples which he has also shared.

      • James says:

        Yep. Plus think about the sticker shock of a nearly $800 cake. If I bought that one, I’d burn the receipt and email.

        -James

    • shah8 says:

      I do think Yang is someone who has more need to make sales. Yes, bubble is bursting. More from the fact that global economy is doing poorly rather than too much speculation in anything other than Dayi. Superpremium cakes *have* been priced out of normal purchasing decisions, compared to six years ago. As far as holding their value, assuming that the world doesn’t crack up, we have to wait until more cakes are with their final owners and more fame happens for those cakes. That also means culling out the bullshit premium brands. This will all take time, perhaps another ten, fifteen years until everything cycles back into interest.

      Tony was trying to make money, therefore the difference in prices on the qizhong. Emmett is more circuitous. Maybe he makes money, maybe not, but it’s going to be roundabout.

      • Emmett says:

        Price changes are due to me ordering so much that I’m getting wholesale prices now. I believe the ones that went up are limited in quantity.
        I do make a little when I order tongs ad there is a tong discount.
        And he always sends me free tea!
        Got a 70’s oolong from him last time. Plus samples, plus some of his productions free!
        So I am getting something out of it, but it is a Lot of work to do this.
        If you want great tea buy some, if you think it’s not worth it then don’t. I love these teas! And I’m thankful I have gotten a chance to drink good premium tea that had been well stored.
        I really can’t find any for sale that are as good for the price.

        • James says:

          Yes. Emmett is really doing a great service for us all that are interested in these teas. The amount of compensation is peanuts compared to what a regular vendor would make..

          Big thumbs up to him. Fast, reliable service.

          -James

  5. shah8 says:

    Hmmm… This looks pretty simple to me. Buy any one of the 2004 cakes, Yiwu888, Bohetang.

    I also suspect that there is a bit of understatement of the mitsang’s value. For $300, you can get a kilo brick. The tea is roughly the same quality level as the White Whale. At its age and maturation, the only cheaper prospect is that 2001 Mingyuanhao at Houde at $258/kilo.

    As for the other expensive teas that aren’t clearly up there like the aformentioned, single shot samples aren’t going to cut it. So we’d have to wait until more people have had a few tries with them, such that they aren’t just names and prices.

    As for the cheaper stuff, I’m not tremendously interested. It seems obvious to me why the ’05 Yiwu Chawang, Qizhong, or ’07 jincha are priced the way they are relative to the others, and $200/500g is still a lot of money, and they aren’t really uniquely better than anything else at that price range (if it weren’t for the age). To me, they certainly are worse teas than the cheapest 2007 XZH teas, only, you can’t buy the cheapest XZH teas cheap anymores. I’d also prefer the 2010 XZH Manlin or Lao Wu Shan to those two as well. When thought in those terms, unless you specifically buy to *drink* them on a *regular* basis (they shouldn’t be your “special” teas), they are a sink of value. If you want a special tea at a lower price, the lowest priced tea I’m familiar with is the qixiang. It’s erratic, but has some very good sessions in that cake.

    The Zhencang Chawang, on the other hand, can put the Zhenchunyahao ’96 in the shade.

    • Grill says:

      From a conversation I was having with someone else today about these yqh teas….

      Having drank through about a dozen now I can tell you they fall into a 3 distinct catagories. The cheaper cakes are cheaper for a reason. While still quite good they don’t stack up. Then there is a huge mid pack. A lot of them are very similar and it’s something I wanted to write about in the article but ran out of time. Most of these teas taste pretty damn similar. The variations will be slight, some might be a little thicker, have better qi, durability etc etc etc. In that middle pack it’s more about what combination of more positive attributes you want. Now there are a couple of mid pack ones that stand out a touch above the rest and those is think are worth checking out though one of them just went way up on price which made me sad since I enjoyed it a bunch. After that there is a couple that are head and shoulders above the rest. Dinji, teji, 888, chawangshu, Shi Shih Shen Pin are spectacular teas and are about as good as any puerh I’ve tried. My personal pick for anyone looking for a great aged Yiwu is would be that tejipin. It just dropped 30 dollars in price as well.

      And I’m with you Shah, a singular session is far from enough to make any kind of real judgement. It’s one of the reasons my reviews are just kind of extended notes. The other is I’m far from being the best writter and wordsmith that many reviews/bloggers are. I swear I learn a new word everytime I read one of your reviews!

      • Grill says:

        And I should add that there might be some other spectacular teas amoungst the ones I haven’t tried yet. If I’m able to get samples we can either fill in the blanks or I’ll post some notes in the comments

    • James says:

      Hi shah,

      Thanks for the comment!

      I agree re: bricks & value. That being said, I think it’s a poor showcase of YQH as an initial buy. More of an aged, mellow brew. I’d considered getting one but ended up with somewhat similar, aged stuff in Taiwan.

      Can’t fault anyone for targeting and buying as much of those 2004 teas as possible. I can’t really think of an easily-available alternative that’s of the same quality.

      Cheers,
      -James

  6. marco says:

    Hi James, can you elaborate on the “stiffness” you found in the ’06 chawangshu? Are you referring to a kind of persistent bitter background? I find it much more challenging to appreciate this tea in comparison with the Tejipin based on two sessions with each.

    • James says:

      Hi Marco,

      Good question.. The main advantage this tea has over the Teji is it has a great body and is very thick. Try brewing them in comparison. The Teji IMO is a very friendly tea. Easy-going/pleasant/sweet tastes and qi.

      My comment on the stiffness of the Chawangshu is kinda like how you could describe Superman as stiff. It’s just not all that dynamic and while it’s pretty damn great and wins in a lot of the categories we look for in pu’erh (qi, thickness, etc.) I could see it leaving some people feeling slightly cold. Again, a very minor flaw.. I’ll also note that I only had two proper sessions with this..

      Hope that is of some use.

      -James

      • marco says:

        That makes sense, I agree the Tejipin is much more approachable and based on two sessions the tongue activity is remarkable in terms of salivation and aftertaste, something I havr not experienced with chawangshu. One day the angels will sing, I will Feel The Qi, and understand why chawangshu (or maybe even the Last Thoughts) is a superhero.

        Also I am also working from samples of these two, so no further experiments are possible at this time 🙁

        • James says:

          Fair enough. I’m glad to hear you’ve at least got some enjoyment out of the Teji. I would not complain if a tong landed in my lap.

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