2004 Chenyuan Hao Songpin Hao
One of my most anticipated tastings. Thanks again to Su for making it possible for me to experience this tea.
The dry leaf has pungent savoury tobacco, similar to what I get from the 2007 CYH Yiwu Ziwang, also from Su’s storage in Malaysia. The Damp leaf has a savoury tobacco with sweetness. When I say tobacco I mean fresh unadulterated pipe tobacco. There is also some of the bitter-umami pungency of tomato vines.
The wet leaf has an interesting incense scent, more catholic style incense blend, not what I usually mean by incense in puer. Also there is stewed grapes and plums.
First steep (no rinse) (<5s)
Yellow-orange, savoury with sharp highlights. Very active on the sides of tongue, upper sides of mouth. Shivers behind ears, legs, leading to a gentle wave of frisson. Medium thickness and long tobacco aftertaste. The most striking thing right away is the juicy full savoury-sweet flavour. First steep is totally clean, no off notes.
Second steep (<5s>)
The aroma on the wet leaf gets sweeter now. High thickness. Empty cup aroma is excellent, intoxicating. Alertness, clarity of vision. Whole-mouth gripping juicy strength extending to the throat, especially strong on the upper mouth. It has a very pure taste, almost like a clean processed young sheng, but in an aged envelope with very low astringency and bitterness.
Third Steep (<10s)
More orange now. Tiny bit of smoke on the aroma. Clear strength, high thickness, with a soft texture. Big salivation on the tongue. Fantastic empty cup aroma of dark perfume, florals and resins. Very low sweetness, more savoury but not briny/salty. Now a feeling of pins and needles behind the ears and throughout shoulders, quite powerful and sudden. The juiciness is now starting to change to more sweetness, reminding me of the rockets candy that I would have for halloween as a child:
Fourth Steep (<10s)
Big fresh tobacco and savoury dark herbs arrival. Later on there is an emergent aroma of pungent honey. High thickness, full mouth coat. Very intense activity on the top of mouth and the extreme sides of the mouth. There is a slowly increasing wave of frisson leading to a very intense goosebumps frisson with relaxation.
Fifth Steep (<10s)
Very interesting taste, pure with juiciness savoury tobacco, no smoke, and a fantastic empty cup aroma. Particularly intense strength penetration effect on the mouth surfaces in the front half of the mouth. Relaxing and flavourful on the rear throat but not as intense as the front half. More heat coming in. Very thick now, incredibly thick, chicken broth effect, shivers and frisson travelling about the back, multiple waves.
Sixth Steep (<15s)
Darker orange now. Bubbles stay in center. Very high thickness, cohesion. Very full and gripping flavour. Remarkable aftertaste juiciness, plummy acidity. Numbing effect on the sides of the face. Overall elevated energy coursing and moving everywhere, slightly overwhelming, sense of reverie, and emotion.
Seventh Steep (<15s)
The savoury resin tobacco-ish aroma permeates the whole table now. High thickness and cohesion. Some aged furniture/warehouse taste does peek through. Still getting lots of bubbles on the surface, and they remain in the centre.
Steeps 8-10 (15s each)
Continuing high juicy savoury engaging and extremely full taste. Reverberating smooth and long frisson waves, involving whole back and arms. During breaks there is a long period of moving energy swaying through the body. Each sip seems to refresh these waves. Quite emotional and moving, perhaps frisson overload! There is a funny minty aftereffect on the tip of the tongue which I notice at this point.
Steep 11: (I bring in the tetsubin: 10s)
Tetsubin has a huge impact on this tea (up to this point I am using my usual filtered tap water, at around 120ppm and 7.7Ph). Renewed thickness, and significantly more sweetness now, and amazingly with the tetsubin tea is much more active in the rear throat, giving much more even juiciness throughout the whole mouth.
Steep 12 (20s)
Rosin and woody-sweet Bhutanese-style incense on the empty cup, and more tobacco aroma on the liquor. Very thick
Steep 13-16 (1m)
Bubbles move to the side now but still quite thick. Not astringent nor bitter. there is a sweet glittery effect on the edges of the juicy taste. Full taste remains
Late steeps (…25+)
Interestingly the fresh young aspects of the flavour, the juiciness, the strength penetration effect on the mouth surfaces and the throat, they persist into the late steeps, without getting bitter or astringent. The frisson continues, getting gentler but still providing an uplifting and controlled feeling.
Effortlessly long-lived in controlled uplifting energy, gripping savoury-juicy flavour, and thick body. Consistent and impressive mouthfeel, fresh savoury tobacco aroma. Completely engaging, easy to focus solely on this tea for 20 steeps. Definitely on the savoury and complex side, very low in sweetness. Interesting that despite the obvious maturity, retains the purity and incisiveness of a young clean processed sheng. Easily among my top favourites. Beautiful Malaysia natural storage.