07 September, 2010

Teachums and the 2009 HK Henry "Mahei"

Recently, Lei and I were fortunate enough to be visited by our teachum who goes by the name of "Apache" in them there Interwebs.  Apache is our favourite biochemist in the land, despite the fact that he works in The Other Place.  Nobody's perfect.

2009 HK Henry Mahei

We marched through some fine brews of a 1960s Liu'an kindly provided by Essence of Tea (thank'ee again), which was smooth and enjoyable, and also enjoyed this 2009 cake from the Xianggang Hengli Tea Co., also known as "Hong Kong Henry".

Apache had bought this cake from Hong Kong's Lau Yu Fat Tea Shop [Liu Yu Fa Chazhuang to the non-Cantonese speakers] over the telephone, amusing us with stories about how the vendors weren't really very interested in selling a few cakes to a remote far-off island.  Most of their business is local, and the Internet apparently holds little interest for them - I sympathise, being something of a Luddite myself.

2009 HK Henry Mahei

I'm unsure if this "Hengli" is the same as the "Hengli" that produced the delicious 1997 Henglichang Bulang sold by Essence of Tea (where it is sold under the name "Henlichang").  I don't believe that these two entities are the same, as the "Heng" character is different in each case.  However, you never know.  As always, I look forward to being proven wrong, should you have any further insight, dear Reader.

My only previous exposure to this producer was the 2003 Menghai "Hong Kong Henry" 7542, sold by Houde.  Amusingly enough, that tea was dubbed the "Scholar Tea" by the owner of Houde, which simultaneously brought a smile to my face and a heaving, wrenching feeling to my stomach. 

You may be familiar with my feelings on the word "scholar" being used for the purposes of selling tea or books about tea, concerns of which I shall not bore you with any further.

2009 HK Henry Mahei

I wasn't thrilled by the 2003 Houde cake, but I may have been alone, as I remember that many folk have thoroughly enjoyed it.  I found it aggressively acidic, with little else of note apart from a background of molasses.  It deserves revisiting, however, as it has been three years since I've touched it.

This 2009 cake, if anything, suffers from completely the opposite problem.

2009 HK Henry Mahei

It is a charming cake, of that there can be no doubt.  Apache, Lei, and I enjoyed its sweet body, notes of leather and grain in the finish, and a pronounced cooling sensation.  However, the Hong Kong tea-world is abuzz with comments of this tea's gentility - is it too gentle to age?

On drinking this cake alone this morning, I came to the same conclusion: I had to use lots of leaves (200% of my normal amount) and employ long infusions to get some real character out of it.  Pushed this strongly, it starts to object by getting a bit cracked around the edges; show it a gentler hand and it peters out to a thin, sweet yellowness.

I will continue to experiment with this little fellow until I get the best out of it - thanks again to Apache both for the generous gift of this cake, and the more generous gift of your company for an afternoon.  Lei and I hope to see you again soon - perhaps we can arrange a "tea day" with some other UK-based drinkers, too.


Anonymous said...

They are different tea companies:
Nada Bulang is "恆利昌", that what I think without checking the Neipiao of the cake.

The Mahei is "亨利".

Thank you very much for your time and the Liu'an we drank and the XZH 8582!

It would be very nice if we can have a "tea day" or "tea gathering" with some other UK-based drinkers and we can all exchange notes about tea that we keep or drink.


Hobbes said...

Excellent! Let's plan something in advance, and drink some tea :)

Anonymous said...

I'm still toying the idea have a tong of the Henry MaHei, as this is one of the only young sheng I can drink regularly (3 or 4 times in a week) without feeling ill as well as just able to afford it, but I haven't decided and see how I feel when I finish the whole bing first, it might not take that long. Couple of days ago, I tried sample of 2009 Hai Lang Hao "Ban Zhang Lao Shu", it was hard going, may be I would give you the rest of the sample as I really don't want to repeat the experience again! Don't get me wrong, I think it is a 'good' tea, just my body not agree with it. Going back to the Mahei, I head someone say tea from that village have something called "tasteless" taste, what it means is it tastes very mild, anyhow, I ordered sample of 2009 Hai Lang Hao Mahei, I think this would give me a good comparison.


MarshalN said...

Apache: why not buy something slightly older? I don't know how much it is, but I can't imagine it being very cheap.

nada said...

a tea gathering sounds like a great plan... might I tempt you gentlemen with an invitation to the seaside? ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi MarshalN,

Thank you for your suggestion, in fact, it still costs less than a good pre-2005 cake from a "reputable" tea shop, but obviously more expensive than any 5 years old cakes from Taobao. Yes, I'm also looking into collecting semi-aged tea. I think I come to the conclusion that drink brand new sheng is not really my thing!

Hi Nada,

Who can resist your invitation, well let see what Hobbes says.


Hobbes said...

Dear chaps,

That sounds like a great idea - give us a little while to deliver the baby, and count us in :)



Anonymous said...

On a slightly different note, it only now occurred to me that people might have favorite Yiwu area mountains. Is that true? If so, which ones?


travis.clark said...

Hi Tea Dipper,
I'm curious if you'd be interested in trying my client's chai tea? Please let me know if so. Thanks for your time.

Hobbes said...

Dear Shah8,

I'm partial to Guafengzhai and Mahei, although there really isn't enough out there to be able to state that with any certainty. Yiwu is, generally, one of my favourites.

Dear Travis.Clark,

Thanks very much for the kind offer; I'm afraid I don't really drink much chai, and so do please extend my thanks, but polite declination, to your client.

Toodlepip all,