15 December, 2008

2008 Xiaguan - FT "Duling Fengsao"

I wrote previously about a resurgent Xiaguan, and this is a good example from their now-excellent FT (Feitai) brand. I suspect FT now has less to do with making gangsters in Taiwan happy, and more to do with demonstrating the Xiaguan premier teas.


2008 Xiaguan FT Duling Fengsao


"Duling fengsao" is "alone-leading literary elegance", which does have overtones of the dreaded "scholar tea".

Gnngrnngh.


2008 Xiaguan FT Duling Fengsao


The bing is iron-compressed. This being Xiaguan, I was expecting the compression on their tiebing to be exceedingly brutal, but, while it is thin (see below), it is quite easily separated.


2008 Xiaguan FT Duling Fengsao


If you are, like me, a fan of Baoyan bricks, then this tea is The One For You. It is based on the Baoyan recipe, but uses good-quality leaves. If there is anything to be said against the charm of the lovely Baoyan brick, it is that they're a bit rough - though the ruggedness is undoubtedly part of their charm.

The leaves give the game away: dark and sweet, they have the precise aroma of Baoyan leaves. This makes me happy. Since moving into our new house, a cat from the neighbourhood appears to have adopted Lei and I as new servants. He waits for me when I return in the evening, and watches me put away my bicycle, while mewing loudly, then sits by the door ahead of me with an expectant look on his face.

Pictured below, His Royal Fatness perched on a makeshift bed that we have set up for him, consisting of a pink rug on a chair. He likes to watch me drink tea, and purrs for hours on end. We have named him "Heidu" [black belly], or, on occasion, "fatman" or "your chunkiness". His rug/chair arrangement has been dubbed "The Palais de Fat".


2008 Xiaguan FT Duling Fengsao


The soup is, just like Baoyan, yellow-orange. Just like Baoyan, it is a dark and flavoursome brew - and yet, against all the odds, it appears quite well-named: it is elegant, being gradual and charming. With all the flavour and character of Baoyan, it delivers it slowly and gracefully - rather than the brusque rollercoaster of the Tibetan bricks.


2008 Xiaguan FT Duling Fengsao


I love it. The Baoyan darkness is balanced against a fine ku in the finish, and it has plenty to reveal. It pays to be restrained in the quantity of leaves used for brewing.

Top stuff - thumbs up, Xiaguan.



Addendum
March, 2013


The price of these Xiaguan cakes has tripled, which is quite surprising, in comparison to the other basic 2008 Dayi cakes that I have been retasting of late.


2008 Xiaguan Duling Fengsao


My main concern with Duling Fengsao was that it has been significantly "darkened" in the modern Xiaguan manner, reminiscent of high-quality Baoyan (if such a thing can be said to exist).  Will such a genre of pu'ercha age properly?


2008 Xiaguan Duling Fengsao


This cake seems as fragrant today as it did in 2008, when I first bought it.  I have two of these cakes, perhaps more as an experiment than anything else.


2008 Xiaguan Duling Fengsao


The cakes were actually untouched, which leads me to the surprising conclusion that I probably bought these cakes without trying them first - it is hard to imagine me doing so today.


2008 Xiaguan Duling Fengsao


Despite the high compression, this tiebing [iron cake] separates out into its constituent leaves fairly easily.


2008 Xiaguan Duling Fengsao


The leaves did not start off as "green" as the Dayi cakes with which I have compared this, but nonetheless have darkened substantially.


2008 Xiaguan Duling Fengsao


Its fragrance remains decidedly "black", and the modern Xiaguan processing seems rather more "baked" to my nose than it did back in 2008.  I wonder if the mystery processing step involves heat, and lots of it.


2008 Xiaguan Duling Fengsao


As with my Dayi cakes, this Xiaguan cake has converted much of its original, brassy kuwei [good bitterness] into heightened sweetness.  This cake is now surprisingly sweet!


2008 Xiaguan Duling Fengsao


The Baoyan processing remains, but is now an interesting counterpoint to the central, penetrating sweetness.  The body is solid, and it feels well-made.  The cereal base of Xiaguan leaves is an old favourite of mine.
 
Delicious, and highly encouraging.  I conclude that even Xiaguan "blackness" can age well, given a good start and good leaves.

7 comments:

Ecclenser said...

Hobbes,

The cat looks like a good tea drinking pal, nice pickup.

In your opinion, how does this tea cake differ from the NanZhou style cake? I am simply unfamiliar with baoyan. It looks and sounds delicious though, thanks.

Bryan said...

Hobbes I also enjoyed my time with this tea quite a bit, but not nearly as much as my one truly successful session with the Nanzhao beeng. The Nanzhao beeng has tasted different all five times I sampled it, and only three out of the five I enjoyed.

This one, however, is a solid performer.

Anonymous said...

Hey Hobbes, you found my long lost brother> Do take good care of him and feed him some nice tea. :)

--Fatman2

Hobbes said...

Dear Ecclenser,

Good question. This one is typical Baoyan, if cleaner and more well-defined. Nanzhao was quite "purple", and more conventional. I prefer the Duling Fengsao, but it's a matter of personal preference as ever.


Dear Bryan,

You have motivated me to head back to my Nanzhao! I'll spend some more time with it...


Dear Seb,

I don't know... this cat's a bit stinky. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

ginkgo said...

your cat is a "connaisseur" ...full view on the tea ! He is "magnifique ".
A home with a cat and teas and books is all what I love ...

Anonymous said...

Haha. If he is stinky, he must be my very distant cousin. hahaha!!!

--Fatman2

Hobbes said...

Ginkgo - he certainly does like to watch the tea brewing, but doesn't think much of the result - it must be my approach.


Seb,

Yes, we're having to be careful about letting him in these days due to the stink. I don't think we could justify washing someone else's cat, nor would they wish us to. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes