Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Birthday Beeng Contenders

Thank you everyone for all your input as you have saved me probably hundreds of hours in fruitless research. Back in 2008, I simply suffered from PPP(Puerh Purchase Paralysis).

It's clear that I have to send away for samples to make a final decision. Wise considering the financial outlay of such exalted cakes.

I've ordered the recommendations by price just to see the range ($205-$30). I'm heartened that there are sub $50 cakes which are considered worthy.

1. YS 2010 Hai Lang Hao Chawang Yiwu $205, $9 for 10g (Jakub)

  • Jakub says it "Enthralled me" (+30). Who doesn't want to be enthralled. 
  • But the HLH price to quality ratio has been declining in the last few years according to T. (-10)
  • $205 for a 2010 cake?  Wow. (---)
Conclusion- Definitely worth paying a $9 ticket to enthrallment.  My Indian lamb gobi gosht dinner tonight with all you can drink chai was $8.95. 10g of top tea gets you days of enjoyment if not more.

2. EoT 1997 Heng Li Chang $184(£118) or ~$6.20 for 10g (Matt) 

  • Love Mattcha blog. +20
  • Hobbes says this tea has real "trousers".  (+20 since none of my teas appear to have even bloomers.)
  • It's aged (+20 so I can drink without worry.)
  • Sample appears not to be available (-20)
  • EoT is a controversial vendor but I should find out for myself.
Conclusion-  It definitely would have been worth the entry the see what trousers on a tea tastes like. Since only the whole cake appears to be available, I have to write EoT to see if the sample is really unavailable or it's a case of some a web UI glitch.

3. Hou De's 2005 Chen-Guang-He Tang "MengHai Yieh Sheng" $165 (MarshalN)

  • MarshalN has the most particular pu-erh palate in the blogosphere (+25).
  • Ten bucks cheaper than the Chen-Guang-He Banzhang (+2)
  • No sample, must commit. (-20)
  • Heard Chen Zhitong lecture in Pasadena seven years ago which was awkwardly translated every few minutes. Could not keep awake. (No points.  Just saying. A man's pu-erh blend has no correlation to his public speaking skills.)
Conclusion - Too much of a risk to commit for now. Must think on it.

4. Tea Urchin's 2012 Miles Birthday Blend   $129, $12 (discipleofthetealeaf)

  • Lovely idea. Wouldn't they have done the very best for their only son Miles? (+25)
  • However sentiment does not always translate into excellence. (No points.)
  • Miles Davis (allusion to the trumpet on this wrapper) was an extremely talented musician but a terrible wife beater.  (Conversation killer...)
Conclusion: Worth a sample.
  • The "Last century production" designation Lee Hoffman uses in his pu-erh list is a bit much for pre-2000 cakes.(-10).  
  • But I guess it shows some degree of restraint as he could have gone whole hog with "Last Millenium"(+2).  
  • His middleman upcharge on mini-tuo's($60 a pound) and Youzi cha is kind of high(-10). 
  • XiGuan Fu Lu Shou Xi bricks are common so I could probably find it for cheaper through other sources. (-5).
Conclusion: Whew.  I'll have to have another entry to make fun of the venerated Lee Hoffman and his suspicious pu-erh list. Thank you Emmet for pointing me towards this treasure trove of late night humor.  I'm not sure what kind of person would giggle at the Phoenix Collection pu-erh list but I guess I'm one of them. If Lee Hoffman is a hero of yours, I'm indeed so very sorry.   Sorry.  Sorry.  So sorry. I can't help myself... (I really did try to watch "All in This Tea" twice on netflix but I keep nodding off...)

6. 2004 Shi Kun Mu Yibang $85@chawangshop (Jakub) 

  • Jakub wrote in T "This is a good, pleasant tea, although I think that those not too well versed in puerh would get similar enjoyment from much cheaper and ordinary cakes." 
Conclusion: I want Jakub's "entralling" selection of the HLH. This tea needs concentration and I am too often absent minded.

7. Spring Lao Man E from Tea Urchin  $68.00, sample $7 (Emmet)

  • Vendor says cake is "accessible to non masochists" (-10). 
Conclusion: I like inflicting myself on a beeng but feel I must get educated with Lao Man E sooner or later.

8. Tea Urchin's Gua Feng Zhai Autumn $97.00,$9 for 30g (discipleofthetealeaf)

  • Interestingly, this is the only autumnal selection in this list.  Autumnal teas tend to poop out too early for me so it would not be my top choice for a special treat. Autum teas are fun to try when someone else has it but otherwise can be too much of a risk. 

9. 2010 YS Yibang $48, $8 for 25g (Jakub) 

  • It's  a way good looking cake! (+5) Did Scott cherry pick those brewed leaves or are they really so whole and plump.
Conclusion: Will order a sample in my next YS order.

10. 2003 changda hao yiwu zheng shan yuan bing $46@chawangshop

  • Not all arbor, mixed with plantation and is reflected in the lower price
Conclusion: I already have  a few 03-06 Yiwu Zheng Shan Ancient Tree already so I'll pass.

11. Chawangshop 2002 Yibang Cha Wang Yuan Cha Raw $38 (Petr) 

Conclusion: Reasonable enough price I can just get  a beeng for fun.

12. Chawangshop 2012 Chawangpu Jingmai Gu Shu Xiao Bing Cha $30 (Petr)

Conclusion: As a budget minded pu-erh buyer- I really need to give this Chawangshop a whirl.


  1. I would swap samples ofthe02 shi fu Lu xi and Heng Li Chang w you for a sample of your lbzs. Just don't expect the s f l x to taste twenty years old. David lee Hoffman is kind of a clown so why not laugh. His price on the Sflx is cheaper than skip4teas though. But Im sure there's is way better stored.

    1. GN,

      Did you personally enjoy the Heng Li Chang? (I didn't see a post on cha-ninja...)

      My LBZs are youngsters (2005-6) compared to what you are used to drinking. I'm curious since your blog is mostly about aged sheng, do you drink sheng much besids the YanChingHao.


  2. You have forgotten the $165 2006 YONG MING STAR OF BULANG from verdant tea. At $165 for the cake it's GOT to be top notch.

  3. Hoffman is my Hero! LOL!!! The fact that he is a little eccentric is very entertaining about him. I laugh with you, but I am thank full for All In This Tea as is started my chinese tea exploration. I will say his puerhs are very very dry stored, and yes most of his selection I would get elsewhere. I do want an older xiaguan though and haven't seen them anywhere else except for skip4teas. I would trade a few samples with you guys and gals also if possible.

    1. Emmett,

      I was watching a few interviews of David Lee Hoffman on youtube and he is a very affable endearing story teller. He mentioned in the interview around 2008 that he wanted to concentrate mostly on pu-erh. But his Phoenix pu-erh list is hard to parse through since there are no wrapper shots- it feels he's clearing out his warehouse of random stuff he picked up. I do not get a good sense of a coherent collection style in the shengs- more of a one of everything style.


    2. I spoke to him recently and he said he was just starting to bring things out as he goes thru his inventory. He said there will be much more available and samples will be available also soon. Also he does sampling at his place in California just contact before stopping by. And I really like your blogging style hster. Gets us more involved.

    3. I'm always surprised Hoffman sells any of his tea - no pictures, no info, and only the vaguest description. They're not very cheap either.

    4. Thank you muchly Emmett! I feel like I've been in a cave for 7 years and have a lot to learn. When I read blogs of those who have continued on during this time , they really have grown leaps in their understanding of processing of the cake and how it affects flavor, fragrance, and aging. 7 years was enough for some to start gleaning useful knowledge from empirical observations on aging.

      David Lee Hoffman probably is a lot like Alice Waters. She was hugely influential in California to bring fresh organic produce to restaurants. But her flagship restaurant, Chez Panisse is overpriced and not that interesting anymore. It's possible that Hoffman has some interesting gems in his collection but it is impossible to tell from his list. The fact that Rose scented mini-tuo is $60 a pound as is 1999 Green Menghai Beencha is a bit confusing. He doesn't have much reviews on the web yet so you definitely should blog about them.


  4. 1997 HengLi Chang is lots of fun. Out of interest can I ask what is controversial about EOT?

  5. aewrs,

    I remember reading a lot of forum discussions about EoT selections being overpriced and whether or not their selections all warranted the high price. I have personally never tasted any of their tea so I have no strong opinions yet.


    1. Personally the aged I have tried from EOT are too wet stored for me. But the aged oolong and young sheng is really good.

  6. Just saw your reply actually after posting this the next day I brewed some heng li chang. It is definitely top three teas in my my collection. If I only owned one cake I wouldn't part with any of it. But I am fairly stocked up. It's A good tea to show you where the bulang bitterness is heading. I have had teas from the 70s that you can still taste that bulang bitterness.

    Myself being a lover of properly wet stored tea love EOTs selection of aged tea. As far as there prices go where else in the west can you easily purchase this kind of stuff let alone by the gram. That kind of convenience demands a premium. That being said there prices are not that far out of line with what they are going for in Asia.

    1. Dear GN?,

      Please write me at


  7. And
    Yes I drink young sheng all of the time I'd say I drink about 50 50 young to aged. I just kinda saw allot of info on young sheng on the Internet and virtually no info on aged teas( as far as teas that are available in the west.) so that's what I wrote about. I have every intention once work slows down for the winter to continue blogging on aged tea just far to busy right now.

  8. Didn't know you were open to as far back as that case, recently had a sample of this one:
    It was amazing!


    250g, 50g, 10g
    Price per unit
    $135, $30, $6