No doubts about it, MarshalN. It's also a matter a taste too. I like XZH, other people might like Yichanghao or something. Makers have philosophies--Nada prefers to make very "clean" and "pure" puerh, for example. Some people like that, and other people don't.
What has me agitated as a consumer advocate is that Chen Guanghe Tang and XZH are in no way of comparable quality--it's easy (at least for me) to see and taste the difference--if you run the gamut of products. A couple of CGT products will be of enough quality that personal preferences dictate whether they like the CGT or the XZH. Hobbes reviews of ZhiZheng tea reveal the one essential fact that *all* of (at least the youngest ones) the tea had unsatisfactory processing. I can tolerate the hongcha in the XZH DinJin Nuer because that part isn't the whole of the session, and other people can deal with the Xiaguan'ed nature of the Ban'E, for their personal reasons. But *all* of the teas? XZH has perfectly decent processing on most of their teas. And if you then examine one of Nada's not so great teas (Banpen) with something like, oh, Xue Shan Chuen Lu, people will more or less decide on their own preferences, because XZH's under-performers aren't *that* weak.
The thing is, XZH is, what I think, a reliable brand. And you pay for it being a known quality. I would never have bought that huge Youle bing if that said Changtai instead of XZH, because I know I've loathed some Changtai, and I know that Changtai likes to be excessively gentle and verge onto blandness. I know I don't mind XZH processing, and I know I'm at risk for the soup being too thin. I'm a XZH fanboy because I've tasted enough tea to know it caters very much to my tastes. I mostly buy Nadacha because the price-quality in 2009 and 2010 was very, very, very good, even though Nada, by and large, doesn't cater to my taste. I very much lucked out by buying the Man Nuo because I wasn't going to buy something I didn't know--then had a sip or two of 2010 Bulang and decided I'd better get another from 2011. If I was going to do that, I might as well buy Man Nuos, and Man Nuo wound up *really* being what I wanted out of a puerh, but it isn't really a characteristic Nadacha tea out of the gate, knowhatimean?
In the West, one almost *has* to judge a tea by reputation, because you have to buy the tea you like right away, because if you like it alot, chances are, other people do to--without even a chance to sample first! That's why you have to sample teas and broaden your sense of what you like and who offers it every chance you get. There are always a ton of people who say that Dayi shu or XZH sheng is too expensive for what it is, and offer up alternatives that winds up being a worse. Cheaper, yes, but you lose more hedonism points than the money saves, and given the capital-intensive nature of puerh, that's no bargain at all. That doesn't necessarily mean you should go out and buy $45 Dayi shu or $96 250g XZH sheng. It means you have to wear down the leather on your metaphorical shoes--look for places that sells Dayi or XZH cheaper than others. Read reviews, check prices (on Taobao and elsewheres) for interest and speculative activity, and figure out what other brands can get you what you want, for the prices you're willing to pay.
Also, understand that there are *reasons* why things cost what they cost, other than profit motives. Nada can sell at the prices he does because he's focusing on one area and on building his own network. He also doesn't buy more leaves than he can reliable oversee. The flip side is that he sells out and fast, most of the time. XZH is buying leaves from all over Yunnan, and at quantities (tho' small by Dayi standards) that makes achieving high quality a real task. The big money helps open high end acreage, but the more you try to do, the less successful you wind up being. However, you need to sell a lot in order to have enough money to get that quality maocha. There are tensions here. Modern Douji resolves that by an emphasis on blending. XZH also blends on some of their products. Low end products that are sold at higher prices than they are really worth also compensate. CGT just doesn't give a bleep, last I checked, and there are many brands that do the same. But there are no reliable bargains. Tea generally costs what they are supposed to cost. If they don't cost in cash, then they cost in attention to the marketplace or networking with the people who's got the good smack at not extortionate prices.