This Henglichang Bulang tea has gotten some mention from other bloggers with widely varying opinions. Thanks to Apache, I had a chance to try a sample. Luckily, I had not read any other reviews prior to sitting down for my session – so the scribbles in my little notebook were from an unbiased mind – relatively speaking.
When I decided to make a post about the Henglichang Bulang, I poked around to see what others had wrote, finding some divergent views. A 2010 review from Hobbes begins:
Some cakes give you hope. …
This Henglichang* cake is an excellent example of an aged cake that has real “trousers”. The leaves are homogenous in colour – there is no partial blend of type (i) leaves. The whole tea is a big, mahogany treat. It is a big, bold tea that is doing very well for its years. I appreciate its power, its duration, and its complexity.
Where as Marshaln mentions in his recent post:
There’s no real complexity and offers none of the surprises of a well aged tea. After trying this, now I know why this tea is a complete unknown this side of the Pacific. There are lots of options for late 90s teas, and this one isn’t a representative example of a good one.
These two reviews are fairly divergent, which is fine. I will quote my own notes below, which fall somewhere in between Hobbes and Marshaln. I can relate to the trousers and the lack of real complexity. It has both; thick bitterness and a lack of much else going on.
The rest of the quotes are direct from my notes:
Looks very dry. Lots of tips, smells of dusty books
Deep throaty kuwei right out of the gate, active salivary glands. Chocolatey.
Strong kuwei. Horehound
Heroic staying power, 20+ steeps
That was the abridged version of the notes. After looking over what I wrote, I noticed a surprising lack of adjectives such as good or bad. Very little in the way of judgmental adjectives, which is not that common for me. My notebook is usually littered with swear words or praise, or in some cases, both. It has been a couple of months since I drank this tea, but I remember drinking it for over an hour before a basketball game one Sunday. (We did win the game, which i must partially credit the Henglichang bulang for)
I do not throw around the phrase Heoric staying power lightly. I do remember this tea having a never ending rolling bitterness, which I enjoyed. I do also remember there not being much change or complexity, but I didn’t mind. Also, this is probably the first and only time I have encountered a note of horehound, which is a nostalgic flavor of a candy (derived from a plant) that my grandfather enjoyed and I ate on trips in South Dakota in my youth. Probably to do with the thick coating and dark syrupy tea.