Saturday, November 15, 2008

2003 Henry Trading Co.HK Ltd."Seriously Formula" Ching Beeng 7542, 357g



In 2003, the Henry Co. had commissioned the MengHai Tea Factory to produce the "Seriously Formula" Ching Beeng . Although the exact prescription is unknown, it is said to be inspired after the time honored 7542 recipe. For more information concerning factory commissioned pu-erh please visit a previous post.

Initial Impressions

Though this was a commissioned piece ordered by an independent company, for all intensive purposes, it is indeed CNNP product. It had the CNNP standard weight of 357g and the "chung" cotton wrapper, nei fei, nei piao, and description ticket, all of which are reminiscent of the CNNP Chi Tsi Beeng Cha era. However, what makes this product different from most other CNNP product is that there was a seconded embedded nei fei located on the back of the beeng.




The cotton paper had a musty basement smell. However, once I let the beeng air out for a while, I was able to notice that the smell did not carry into the beeng. Relieved! It had a lovely freshness with the aroma of pine saw dust.

The leaves appear to be aging nicely and are turning brown, tan and in some places beige. They were also nice and glossy - a good sign of proper storage.

The beeng was not as heavily compacted as most of the "big factory" new born pu-erh on the market, and as a resul, it was relatively easy to flick off a scant for brewing.

Brewing Parameters


Amount - 5.5g

Brewing Method - Gongfu

Brewing vessel - Yixing Zhuni Shui ping 150ml

Water Source - Natural Spring MI

Infusion times

1-15s
2-12s
3-25s
4-35s
5-65s
6-80s
7-85s

Brewing Session




There was really nothing remarkable about the brewing itself. I started off with roughly 5.5g as I do with most of my slightly aged shengs. Since the leaves were quite separated, I had decided to give the pu a very short wash as there was no need to have the water break up the leaves. You know exactly what I am talking about if you have brewed XiaGuan lately.

Aroma

The aroma from the sniffing cup was delicate and pleasant. It was very woody with a sweet floral character that is rarely found in the 7542 recipe. It also had a pleasant musk that kept most of the sweet notes in check. Musk is one of my favorite scents found in pu-erh and have found it in varying degrees in most slightly aged sheng. However, there was indeed a generous helping in this particular example. In later infusions, the floral notes had dissipated. However, the woodiness was very persistent which later coupled with grassy and the scent of raw legumes.

Taste

The liquor, as in the aroma was quite woody. However, it was a very sweet woodiness and not the quintessential wood that we find in more contemporary examples. I truly loved it. The liquor also contained notes of perfume, raw sugar with the ever so light touch of caramelized honey. Unfortunately, these were its high points. Although there was smoke in the initial infusions, it quickly had dissipated after the 3rd.

On the downside, the liquor's viscosity was lacking, which resulted in the flavors not staying on the tongue as long as I would have liked. Furthermore, the liquor lacked in brightness, generally as a result of a low acidity feeling. I like pu-erh to have lots of brightness as I believe that it separates the flavors. Though the liquor was sweet in the first infusions, it did not have a lasting huigan. It is not all bad, It was one of the clearest liquors I have drunk in recent memory and I did enjoy the chaqi with its warm and inviting sensations.

Spent Leaves




The leaves were very different than you would find in a 7542. They were not masticated as most factory fare. I as you can see, it appears that they used a combination of a 2 leaves - one bud prescription with a combination of larger leaves.

Final Impressions

The 2003 Henry did not impress me as much as I had hoped; however, it did have its moments. I loved the pine and musk notes which seemed to be everywhere in this example. I've never had a pu-erh with this amount and concentration of pine. It was definitely different. Furthermore, although the Henry was inspired by the 7542 famous recipe of the MengHai Factory, the recipe number is practically all that the two would have in common. The 7542 examples which I have tasted have the MengHai taste and are relatively more aggressive. However, the Henry was not.

The Henry did not give me the feeling of a Spring tea. In fact it was more reminiscent of a late harvest or Autumn tea. I have yet to receive an Autumn feeling from a MengHai Factory 7542. Of course being an insipired beeng of the 7542 it shouldn't be the same.

After looking at the spent leaves, I did find what appeared to be Autumn leaves, although I am not certain if this is truly the case. They appeared large enough to be. All in all, it was an average beeng. However, this is the beauty of pu-erh, I may find that in 5 years I will have something to celebrate!

6 comments:

Salsero said...

Nice review, thanks; but now I am even more confused. What are the relative roles of CNNP and Menghai companies in putting this cake together for the Henry Co?

I got a sample of this one and certainly did find some nice features to it, but nothing that bowled me over, course it is still very young.

Bill said...

Good question Sal,

Well the CNNP was created in 1972 to oversee all of the State Pu-erh Factories. However, in 1997, the Chinese Gov't allowed privatization of pu-erh companies. Although this did not stop the CNNP from overseeing some aspects of the tea making process as we can see.

Most of the information that I have been able to gather is somewhat sketchy. However, what I have gathered is that it is still not uncommon for vendors to order special recipes for their purposes. They will place orders with former state owned factories and have the CNNP oversee the the tea making process. I can only assume that 1. It gives their products more legitmaticy as a result of the standards that factories must follow under the oversite of the CNNP 2. Perhaps it MAY be more economical for them to do so for tax purposes - not to mention that the MengHai Factory is now a private entity under the DaYi brand that is now owned by the Bowman Co. Of course their shareholders may object having vendors release pu-erh under their now private label such as the DaYi brand.

My guess is that they graciously accept vendors orders for a profit or we wouldn't have the Henry. And lastly, for nostalgic reasons. I see many beengs on the market that have nostalgic wrappings. It may help to think of the CNNP as the FDA for tea.

These are only guesses.

It is important to remember that the CNNP was never a "factory or factories" Their position in history is simply to act as a govermental organization to over see the State owned tea factories.

I hope some you readers could clarify or validate my assumptions :D

Sherab Chen 智音 said...

I really appreciate the steps of field works you've taken. The market and situations of Puerh tea in China is quite muddy now. With a disordered market and an increasing group of ignorant / fashion-minded middle class, it's now impossible for "what you pay is what you get" there, not anymore.

Bill said...

Thanks Sherab! I really appreciate that. It is indeed hard to describe the pu-erh buisness with any degree of acuracy only becaues as you have implied, it has changed so so much! Leaves us to fill in the blanks using common sense, logic and whatever bits and pieces we can paste together.

Bryan said...

Bill I want to thank you for all your hard work in researching the different companies and obscurities you encounter in your pu-erh journey. It's really fantastic stuff. Your hard work with the research is appreciated in the community.

I just started a small blog over at http://teajournaling.blogspot.com with simple, quick tasting notes on mostly younger stuff. Anyway I've got a few odd teas that I'd like to get your opinion on. E-mail me and maybe we could organize a small swap.

Bill said...

Hell Bryan! Thank you for the compliment! Although I don't post as often as I would like I certainly enjoy it when I do. I feel that researching the products before the tasting notes gives readers more intimate knowledge makeing their tea drinking much more pleasurable.

Home Set Up

Tea should be simple. I typically brew gongfu except when I make a good English Breakfast. Zhuni pot is one that I dedicate to Chinese b...