2019 vs 2020 Biyunhao Yiwu Shengtai

// Published December 7, 2020 by mgualt

Biyunhao’s Yiwu shengtai cake is from certain 30-50 year old plantations on Yiwu mountain which have, over the past decade or so, been allowed to grow taller, to around 3 meters, managed without the use of industrial pesticides and fertilizers. Depending on the year, Mr. Chen blends this material with a bit of old tree material from forests in Manxiu/Mahei, basically the same material in his gushu productions, as well as some old tree material from Yiwu Xinzhai. In any case, I like the resulting blend, as it has a clear Yiwu character, and has some of the complexity, body, and type of resinous character you can get with older tree material, while at the same time not having much of the roughness of normal taidi (plantation bush) material. This kind of cake, with “upgraded” taidi, blended with a small quantity of gushu, is common on the market, though it is invariably sold, either explicitly as gushu, or as a “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” gushu production. The 2019 is not blended, and comes entirely from Malishu village on the top of Yiwu mountain, whereas the 2020 has 30% older tree material from Yiwu Xinzhai.

2019 (Left), 2020 (Right)

Another consideration is that despite the significantly larger volume of the shengtai production compared to BYH’s gushu lines, Mr Chen still uses traditional processing, hand shaqing, sun drying etc. for the shengtai cakes. On the one hand this is a bonus from my point of view, but on the other, the processing tends to be not as good, on the whole, as his gushu lines, and can be a touch on the red side. In any case, when I weigh the pros and cons, I think the BYH shengtai teas are excellent value for money, and I think they would be a good choice for yiwu lovers on a tight budget or for someone who wanted to age a tong of good Yiwu material for 15 years at a relatively low price.

2019(LEFT) vs 2020 (RIGHT)

2019 has a noticeably more orange liquor, no doubt due to the year of extra aging (room temperature mylar storage) and a more resinous aroma from the liquor.

2020 has a much greener wet appearance, and has some of the milky/thick green tea notes.

2019 has a fuller taste, compared to a green stiffness on the 2020. The 2020 has low astringency, good sweetness in the aftertaste, and it has a quite good thickness.

2019 very thick on steep 3-5, sweet, complex, resinous. 2020 is also thick, but quite harsh and a bit acrid bitter and green.

After steep 5, 2019 continues to be ok to drink, a complex bittersweetness, and more pungency, whereas the 2020 is a bit stiff in bitter greenness (this is to be expected)

Much later the residual aroma is quite pungent on the ’19 and more quiet on the ’20, which is a bit unexpected.

The material is quite similar on the 19 and 20, although to my eye the 19 looks a bit better, with a bit more beefier and darker green leaves included. Both the 19 and 20 show a bit of redness, and actually the 20 has a bit more redness. I have had the 19 many times before, and I get a decent amount of energy circulation from it, some heating and relaxation; I would say my favourite aspect of these teas is the thick mouthfeel, good resinous sweet pungency, and a very reasonable amount of astringency which is not too rough at all. For drinking now I definitely recommend the 2019 over the 2020. I tested the 2020 Guoyoulin Longdui the day after this side by side session, wondering if it would really be significantly better than this pair, and, disappointingly, it was, and by a long margin. It reminds me of my frustration after tasting the 2003 purple dayi 7542; I get the amazing rush of an excellent tea, coupled with the annoyance that the high price might actually be justified… 2019 BYH Yiwu Shengtai (6.4), 2020 BYH Yiwu Shengtai (6.1)

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