2006 Yangqing Hao Qixiang — a tale of two Taiwan storages
Inspired by James’ recent investigation of storage variations of the Yanqing Hao Lingya 2007, I thought it would be interesting to do a tasting of two cakes of Yangqing Hao Qixiang with different storage histories. On the right, we have a YQH Qixiang obtained directly from Yang via Emmett, whereas on the left, a YQH Qixiang which was bought from Yang in 2006 and stored by a Taiwanese collector in his small warehouse.
The appearance of the two cakes is extremely similar, but the cake from Yang is a tiny bit shinier in appearance. What I mean by this is that the flat surface leaves have a sheen to them which is slightly stronger on the Yang-stored cake.
The smell of the two cakes is very different. Here we get into one of the most important aspects of the Yangqing Hao brand. YQH has a very distinct house aroma and taste. It is quite unique, and hard to pin down a description. My best attempt is to say that it has a sweet fragrant wood aspect, a bit of mint, a bit of char, something akin to cinammon. The combination is somewhat familiar in some sweet bhutanese incense which has a bit of agarwood in it. The key thing is that the cake on the left does not have the house YQH aroma.
- On the left, very slight astringency on the first steep. Right tea is thicker, with clear YQH house taste. Both have equally good empty cup aroma, gentle sweetness. It is also clear that the left tea does not have the house YQH taste.
- On the left, old book, sweet, oily strength. On the right, leather, old book. Thick, blank arrival, milky sweet aftertaste.
- Clearer liquor, slightly redder appearance on the left. On the right, slight cloudiness
- More articulated taste on the left, thick but not as thick as the right tea. The YQH taste is quite strong on the right now, milky thickness.
- Very nice aftertaste on the left, clear, lots of wood, leather, sweetness. On the right it is more blurred, thick and heavy.
- Long steep is significantly bitter on the left, bitter melon, leather, old wood. On the right it is also bitter but more in the development and aftertaste rather than immediately. Also the right tea has more tartness to it in the aftertaste, although both have this aspect.
- Late steeps are quite similar in thickness and colour, only the YQH taste is the main difference.
I wish I had more information about the storage conditions of these cakes. But clearly they have been stored very similarly, giving almost identical colour and appearance. Yang’s storage gives the characteristic YQH taste but it also imparts a significantly thicker liquor, and it seems to give some very slight cloudiness to the liquor. It also has slightly less bitterness. Personally, I had a slight preference for the tea on the left, since it gives a more articulated expression of the different material than the slightly more rounded and fuzzy version on the right. As for the tea itself, I enjoy the YQH Qixiang very much, it has a rich texture, strong flavour which is both sweet and with aged leathery wood furniture notes, and it often gives strong energy and warming. I prefer it to the Qizhong, but perhaps not to the Lingya.