24 January, 2011

2006 Xiaguan "Big G" Tuocha

Though we've been living in our house for some time, the renovations have taken ages. Dear Xiaohu has coped very well with the chaos into which he was born, and it is only now beginning to look like a home. Teachums who have visited since we've been here (Nada, Apache, Mr. Finland) have been very patient with our humble surroundings.

This means that all of the tea that I bought last year has been living in my office, largely untouched. Just a few days ago, I hauled a whopping great big box of tongs from Essence of Tea all the way from my office back to the house - by bike. It was wobbly.

Today, I brought back a box contained the tong of 2001 Dingxing that I'd ordered from 999 Wo Xin Yijiu (via Taobao), a tong of 2006 Xingshunxiang (from Chanyi Chaju, via Taobao), a pile of 2006 Douji (from Dragon Teahouse), and a number of 2004 Xingshunxiang cakes (from Gongma Qijian Dian, via Taobao).

As I unpacked them at home, I realised the connection between the all: His Grace, Dr. the Duke of N*.

*I love the fact that Debrett's even covers how one should address a Duke with a doctorate.

2006 Xiaguan
While we're discussing free gifts, thanks very much to Gordon of Dragon Teahouse for upgrading my old pu'erdao (bought from Yunnan Sourcing in 2006, and which turned out to be a letter opener) with the rather charming example shown above

The 2001 Dingxing* and 2004 Xingshunxiang were Taobao recommendations; the 2006 Xingshunxiang was a cheap-and-cheerful purchase from Shanghai; the 2006 Douji was a recommendation from Malidandao.  So, thanks indeed, your grace.

You may recall that the vendor of the 2001 Dingxing was... of an uncertain reputation.  I'd received some warnings via e-mail, in fact, from teachums based in Hong Kong.  Being something of a gambler, I trialled first a cake, then a tong, and all turned out well.

Not only that, but the vendor ("999 My Heart Will Always Go On") even included a large bag of very decent maocha, and this 2006 Xiaguan tuocha.

*Well done to Tea Goober for finding this cake now for sale at Puerh Shop, at a reasonable price, and bravo to Jim for stocking it.

2006 Xiaguan

This is a "Big G" production, which is a decent grade, lying beneath the generally better "FT" items from Xiaguan.  It looks just like you'd hope, from Xiaguan - little leaves, nicely presented, minimal breakage.  The compression is loose enough to access, tight enough to age.

2006 Xiaguan
Clean soup that turns orange in the air, but pours yellow - very active

Xiaguan is based in Dali, a northern city, with a famous lake (although now infamous, due to its pollution).  The leaves from up there have a distinctive character - even without the "blackening" of modern Xiaguan productions, there is a constant, easily-recognisable trait that runs through their products.  I like it very much, and am always delighted to try new, good Xiaguan - although I've got enough of the "black" stuff (Baoyan, Duling Fengsao, Hongloumeng, etc.).

I don't remember where, but I tried some non-Xiaguan Dali leaves in another production - they tasted very similar.  I can recall the flavour clearly, even though I can't recall where it was that I tried it.  Taste-memory is a curious thing.

2006 Xiaguan
Solid green, minimal monkeying - excellent

This is a lovely, clean Xiaguan.  It is sweet, grainy, and very, very long.  It really does go on forever.  It doesn't crack, but rather swells as the infusion goes on.  In fact, it behaves rather like a high-grade tea.  Good old Xiaguan - despite their interesting, occasionally bizarre, experiments into processing, I give them plenty of leeway to do so in my affections, because you know, at the end of it all, that they are tea gurus.  They have some mighty blenders at work in that place.

The room is filled with good, fresh Xiaguan, and I am a happy man.

Hats off to "999 Wo Xin Yijiu" for providing some delicious, thoroughly-appreciated, tuocha.

2006 Xiaguan

Shown above, the new pu'ercha bags from Dragon Teahouse - rather pretty, don't you think?  Gordon has an eye for aesthetics that complements his very decent range.

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