Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2006 Langhe Factory Sheng Puer Cake

I first heard of the Langhe tea factory (郎河茶廠) about five years ago from their advertisement in Art of Tea Magazine. The ad caught my attention because it seemed to me much simpler and humbler than those of most other full-paged puer factories/brands in the same issue. It shows an aerial view of the factory surrounded by green hills and trees and states: "Our factory is within thousands of acres of camphor forests with large-leaf tea interspersed everywhere. The blue roof and white walls are mirrored in the sky above, the factory but a part of the surrounding nature."

It was a few years later that I tasted my first cake from this factory (a 2002 sheng reviewed here).

On a recent Friday afternoon at work I decided to review a newer Langhe factory cake for this blog post. The cake, with a production date stamp of August 15, 2006, has a handsome purple wrapper and a bold green "郎河" seal in the middle.

I used the new teapot that Chris Shaw loaned me (profiled here). It was just about one-quarter full of dry leaf. After a quick, boiling hot rinse, I steeped my first infusion for about 10 seconds. The next 4 infusions all ranged about 10 to 20 seconds long, while infusions 5 through 8 saw increases from 1 to 2 minutes in length.

This is a potent and smoky sheng cake. It pours a clear, amber color and leaves an "icy-hot" tingle on my throat and tongue. All infusions have savory, herbaceous notes such as sage, rosemary and mint. Some infusions also have a pleasant sweetness that reminds me of flowers and raw honey. It has occasional, refreshing, good-bitterness but some infusions have too much smokiness.

Afterwards, my muscles feel mellow and loose as though I were drinking an older, riper tea. Also, my toes are not tapping and my hands are not fidgeting like they normally do after I drink a lot of young sheng puer. In my opinion... this cake is a real winner.

My solo session at Phoenix Tea:

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