Puer & Branding
I have owned several Apple computers in my day. Several of my PC fanboy friends would deride my decision to purchase with valid points ranging from software incompatibility to lack of gaming options, but their loudest complaint was always the same; price. When a brand offers a quality product and sells it for a premium, my American heritage has taught me to applaud the unabashed capitalist profit margins. I never minded paying extra for my computers, or my puer, if it offers something special. The design was sleek, I liked the OS, and I could always play games elsewhere. I felt like the mark up was worth it. The brand was offering me something. Segue to:
A friend recently sent me me several Fujin (福今) factory cakes, ranging from the mid 2000′s through 2012. Fujin’s prices are in the Apple mark up range, but with the added value of a Hewlett Packard. I have had a dozen or so Fujin cakes, and my experience has always been roughly the same; the cake is alright, and there is a cheaper option out there for 1/3 of the price with comparable quality. Now that I am done getting on my soap box regarding my gripes against Fujin, let me take a look at the positives:
- They have an attractive logo
- This is a decent example of a Bulang puer
- I really do enjoy their logo
One of the first cakes I sampled was this 2006 Bulang Qingbing. In a whirlwind of 2006 Bulang tea, Fujin produced at least four that I know of; a ripe cake, this raw cake (qingbing), and a high grade raw cake, which retails around 1800 RMB (~$300) and a Bulang chawang [tea king] brick that sells for even more than that. (Some outlets price it upwards of $600)
On to the Puer…
The leaves are a medium darkness for their age, and smell very Bulangy ©.
My favorite part of this tea was the smell of smoked trout that came off of the leaves after the wash. It’s not often that I have memories of eating brook trout conjured up during puer sessions. The leaves were very tightly packed, and the third steep was still a bit subdued. After the leaves finally opened up, they revealed a relatively smooth smoke. Something like a 70/30 balance of smooth vs. harsh. This is will probably smooth out over further aging.
Later in the session there was an undercurrent of sweetness, with leather and tobacco throughout. Around steep ten I decided to do a 10 minute oversteep and, surprisingly, there was very little change in the character of the tea with only an increase in density. It mostly remained the same throughout the session.
Overall, this is a pretty standard representation of a factory production Bulang mountain tea. Lots of chop, tightly pressed cake, average material with decent staying power. The Fujin brand has plenty of loyalists, but I do not count myself amongst them. However, I am also not a detractor of their teas. This cake is decent, but not quite my taste, and certainly not a value cake.
Fujin is a well known brand, and brand names come at a price.