26 April 2010

2009 Xi-Zhi Hao Shu minibeeng

This is the second minibeeng from the Xi-Zhi Hao pu-erh tea gift set sold by Hou De. As Hou De stated, it's made from tiny pieces of mao-cha that left after sieving the spring 2009 Xi-Zhi Hao mao cha used for sheng cakes. These leftovers were then fermented by an ex-Meng Hai Factory master.

2009 Xi-Zhi Hao Shu minibeeng

The beeng looks and smells good, the smell reminded me of 2005 Menghai Golden Needle White Lotus I have. Not a bad start. The tea brews very dark yet clear soup with no fishy or pondy taste or smell. I drink shu pu-erh only once in a while, because I know, how it's made, but this tea is fine by me - it's gentle and smooth.

2009 Xi-Zhi Hao Shu minibeeng
What is hidden in the dark depths of this tea?

Now, the negative side of this tea. As you can see on these bottom picture, the tea leaves are extremely fragmented, it's almost a tea dust, so you cannot expect too many good infusions made of this beeng. Even when I broke a whole chunk, it fell apart in seconds, making a coffee-colored liquid and in fourth brew it sharply started to fade into nothingness.

This pu-erh requires either very short infusions with moderate amount of tea leaves, making it into sixth or seventh infusion gracefully, or slightly less leaves with longer infusion times - but then you can expect only two or three good brews. Even prolonging the infusions at the end does not help, the tiny bits of tea already totally gave up.

2009 Xi-Zhi Hao Shu minibeeng

So my resume is: this xiao beeng, like it's sheng counterpart, is good for softcore tea-drinkers (is this an accurate opposite of hardcore tea-drinker?), being easy and smooth without unpleasant taste. For more experienced tea-drinker this pu-erh may be a bit light and short-living.

To be continued... with the two minibeengs as a whole gift set.

25 April 2010

2009 Xi-Zhi Hao Jing Gu minibeeng

A good sheng beeng, at last!

Or, according to the small size - a good sheng sample, at last! (© by Hobbes)

This is one of the two xiao (mini) beengs from the Xi Zhi Hao gift set sold by Hou De. According to the description, this is from Jing Gu area, same, as the 2007 Pu Zheng beeng. Unlike MarshalNs experience with Jing Gu teas, the Pu Zheng is one of my favorites. Expensive, yet very solid pu-erh.

2009 Xi-Zhi Hao Jing Gu minibeeng

I really like this pygmy beeng. The mao cha it's made from is said to be from 2100m high ancient plantations near the Daoist temple "Da Shi Si". I believe this claim - the leaves are whole, big and strong. This is the fourth year tea trees are harvested in this area and they still possess some kick and character.

As I see it, Mr. Chen made this tea as a "gift tea", designed with less orthodox tea drinkers in mind, so we can expect a pleasant experience, not an overpowering one. No smokiness, slight bitterness, good acidity, thick soup with peach notes. On the other hand, the tea isn't powerless or bland and has nice and clean aftertaste.

I believe this is one of the better teas Xi Zhi Hao made after the first productions in 2005. And here is a proof of my appeal for this tiny and young sheng - I'm used not to drink the same tea more than once a week, and yet there's the same beeng after ten days.

2009 Xi-Zhi Hao Jing Gu minibeeng

To be continued... with the shu xiao beeng from the same set. And then, my thoughts on the whole gift set.

13 April 2010

Inner change

Today I (finally!) got my parcel with Xi Zhi Hao samples from Guang. The long waiting is over. I haven't tried the teas by now, but I immediately noticed a slight change - the Xi Zhi Hao changed its logo.

As Guang wrote, the original Xi (Double Happiness) character contained a drawing of an 18th century educational poster. As I heard, that made harder to sell Xi Zhi Hao pu-erh in conservative China. So, the Xi Zhi Hao went the easy way and changed its logo.

Xi Zhi Hao old logo
Here is the original Xi (adult content).

Xi Zhi Hao new logo
And here is the new, safer Xi.

Even the paper changed from hand-made to mass produced shiny white. Well, I liked the old style of Xi Zhi Hao more.