In our small little westerm tea community, there was quite a stir over YQH in 2015 and 2016. I’ll personally admit to being caught up in both the dialog and purchasing of these teas. YQH remains available via Emmett, the most important figure in making these teas accessible). And while YQH as a conversation piece in the tea community has faded, I thought I’d share some thoughts on YQH, looking back with some perspective.
YQH is NOT That Expensive (Compared to Many Other Teas)
Maybe this is controversial. I’m not sure.. I disagree with the notion that these teas are prohibitively expensive. They certainly aren’t relative to young pu’erh made available regularly from western vendors. Sure, these aren’t teas I’d recommend for someone operating under a strict budget but if we look at the most popular YQH teas the prices are far from outrageous.
- 2007 Jincha ($80/300g), $0.27/g
- 2007 Qizhong ($140/400g), $0.35/g
- 2007 Lingya ($165/400g), $0.41/g
- 2006 Qixiang ($260/500g), $0.52/g
- 2017 Median Production ($87.50/250g), $0.35/g
- 18+ Year Old Median Production Available Western Vendor ($117.50/250g), $0.47/g
- Median Semi-Aged Raw Pu’erh Production Available Western Vendor ($64.25/357g), $0.18/g
Again, these teas are not budget teas and their higher end teas are indeed expensive, but I don’t think anyone ever argued that YQH is a budget tea. The first step towards rationalizing a YQH tea purchase is looking at the $ per tea weight so you don’t get caught in the trap of absolute values. When I compiled data to look at tea being offered at conception (young tea), I found the median price of freshly pressed tea offered by western vendors in 2017 ranged from $0.30/g to $0.35/g (median production). 2018 looks to be even higher. A ton of these are pressed into 200 or 250 gram cakes. YQH cakes are frequently 400 or 500 grams, twice the size.
Pricewise, the 2007 YQH Jincha is cheaper than your average fresh tea and the Qizhong falls right in the middle! Lingya and Qixiang are a little more expensive but comparable and much cheaper than many western vendor’s 2017 productions. The most popular YQH teas fit right into the middle of an average young tea produced by a western vendor.
- For those who are looking at Yangqing Hao’s English site and shaking your head in disagreement over the prices.. Yes. Yang did made a lot of more expensive, smaller-run teas that can induce sticker shock.. But you are under zero obligation to buy those. And from what I understand, these pricier, smaller-run teas were not widely purchased. Don’t let that shade your judgement on some of his other teas.
- Mid-range YQH teas have been steady in price, while other puerh and maocha prices have risen substantially. The YQH productions that have risen the most are also their most premium productions. This is also no guarantee the prices will continue to hold steady in the future.
- If you are a person into higher-end teas, there are a lot of options for you many of which compare fine with other higher-end teas. This post isn’t about those teas specifically.
There was also much hubbub about the storage. When a lot of people were trying these teas it became pretty clear that Yang’s storage had a certain character. At the time, I said I liked the storage. There were a few other legitimate opinions. Some people preferred Houde’s drier storage or their own home storage. Others said that the tea was too humidly stored and that you couldn’t taste the base material. Some people insinuated that some teas appeared to be stored differently than other ones. Since the original post, I also had the opportunity to see how Yang is storing it (natural Tainan stored), which relative to 99% of western storage is indeed quite a bit more humid.
It’s a couple years later and I still like Yang’s storage. I disagree with the notion that you can’t even tell what tea it is due to how the tea was stored. The longer I’ve owned these teas, the more they’ve lost some of that original house taste.. Similarly, I also think that the difference in storage noted for samples were probably dependent on how long Yang’s cake (that he made samples out of) had been removed from his warehouse. That all being said, I do need to acknowledge that this storage probably shouldn’t be considered dry-storage under a strict sense and if you are someone that prefers teas that are strictly dry-stored, please do take note.
Yang’s Teas Are Not All The Same
I’ve seen the sentiment tossed around hat once you’ve tried one YQH you’ve tried them all. This is untrue.. There’s likely more variation across W2T’s selection than YQH, but that doesn’t make all the teas the same. There are certainly similarities across a few of his teas and they obviously share the same storage, but there are a good many Yang productions and a fair amount of variation. For instance, I think the 2006 Qixiang is extremely different from the 2007 Qizhong. Both are worth trying.. Do not make the lazy mistake of trying a lower end Yang tea and assuming these are all crap teas or not for you.
Recent Select Reviews
Final Thoughts, My Own Habits & Recommendations
These teas have always hit my soft spot. Semi-aged Yiwu and 6FM tea are a regular part of my tea diet and I’ve bought enough that I’ll be drinking these teas for a while. These teas continue to compare well with other options in their $0.25-$0.35/g price range that are accessible in the west. They also haven’t risen much or at all in price and continue to be easily accessible. Will that always be the case? I don’t have a crystal ball, but I doubt it.
The tea that ends up in my pot the most often is the Lingya. It isn’t the best tea ever, but I enjoy the hell out of it and it isn’t expensive enough for me to exclude it from my regular rotation of teas. A tea I don’t drink as much as I probably could is the Qizhong. I really liked this tea when I first had it, but despite being a pretty good value in an absolute context the tea has some erratic sessions in it, which causes me to choose to drink the Lingya over it. The 2005 Cangliu and 2006 Qixiang are also fine, but not necessarily my style. They’re both quite different from the 2007s, which makes them worth a try. Despite being an annoying shape, the tea I’ll recommend to anyone wanting to dip their toes in is the Jincha. It’s not as good as the Lingya, but for the price it’s probably the best value pick and a solid tea in its own right.
James’ keeping it simple picks:
- 2007 Lingya
- 2007 Jincha