08 August, 2007

2007 Xizihao 8582

With the expensive pair of Yuanshilin and Huangshanlin already examined, we move into the Xizihao 8582. No daft poetic names here, just a recipe code, indicating its origins in 1985 Menghai Factory (notionally using "grade 8" leaves).

As the Yunnan Sourcing web-page for this bing notes, this cake promises to "take the drinker back in time 20 years". I must confess that I like the product pages at this vendor's web-site as they are usually very informative, combining detailed accounts of leaf providence and picking seasons with background on the factory of production. Plus, I enjoy counting how many exclamation marks the author can use within the space of a single paragraph.

I wonder if claiming that this cake will take me back to 1985 is a bit like claiming that eating a sandwich will take me back to the 1760s (when the Earl of Sandwich decided that putting meat between two slices of bread was rather tasty)!

Sales pitch aside, what's this cake like? CB has previously made the bold assertion in these pages that she has decided to acquire a tong of the 8582 - so let's find out if she's mad or not (in the nicest possible way).

2007 Xizihao 8582

Brita-filtered water @ 100C in 12cl shengpu pot; ~8-9g leaf; 1 rinse

Dry leaf:
Good and dark, yet broken - in contrast to the chunkier leaves of its more expensive cousins, and in keeping with the 8582. That ever-cautious part of my mind causes me to wonder if these leaves were the rejects from the two more expensive cakes. The compression, also, is much higher than the others.

3s, 5s, 7s, 7s:
Do not be diverted by the short number of infusions - this tea received the unusual dignity/ignominy of being taken to my office, where it was later brewed informally throughout the day while I went about my duties. It lasts much longer than this list of four infusions would otherwise suggest.

Magdalen tower rings in six o'clock.

The soup is thick and yellow, and it has a fresh, green nose that fades rapidly. This tea is thinner than its more expensive counterparts, and is more "impatient" (vanishing from the mouth more quickly), but is more balanced overall - it isn't oddly processed (like the Shanshilin) and it isn't missing bass notes (like the Huangshanlin).

There is some ku in the finish, giving it a mini-huigan, and it ends rather dryly - a little like the mouth-watering sour-sweetness imparted from the must of grapes.

The feeling is robust, with chunky mushroom flavours that appeal, while being a little tangy. The flavour is broad and decent for a 2007 cake, and I like it.

Wet leaf:
Mostly chopped, mixed with some young 3cm leaves, suggestive of a spring picking (well, it could hardly be a guhua [autumnal grain-flower] picking, given that it's still summer).

Decent. While being a clear step down in potency from its expensive cousins, it offers robust flavour, good ku, and fair smoothness. CB's sanity is clearly intact (as if there were any doubt), and I suspect that I shall acquire some of these for our tea cupboard, too.

June, 2011

We have recently been discussing the merits of the 8582, which reminded me of this Xizihao version.  It is rather an important cake for me, because 100% of its life has been spent with us here in England - we bought five from Yunnan Sourcing for the very reasonable sum of £21 immediately upon its release in 2007, now four years ago.

2007 Xizihao 8582

It is, therefore, rather a good barometer by which to examine the effect of our storage.  Perhaps more critically to my immediate concerns, three of its four years have been spent here in our family house, and I'm very keen to find out if our storage here is sufficient for good aging.  (The first year of its life was spent in our university apartment, while I was finishing up my graduate days.)

2007 Xizihao 8582

It is a pretty cake, and I am struck by just how good the leaves are for what is, nominally, an 8582 clone.  Whereas one would expect chopped, fragmented leaves, this Xizihao version is comprised of large, flat leaves; fragmented, yes, but otherwise looking very appealing.

Perhaps you can get an idea of their prettiness from the following image...

2007 Xizihao 8582

The aroma is low and sweet; it has settled into something heavy and dark, from the green spiciness of its youth.

2007 Xizihao 8582

I am impressed, and relieved.  It starts out somewhere younger than the pine-like sharpness of a whole cohort of five- and six-year-old cakes that Keng generously provided, and yet it is still darker and richer than a green, raw shengpu.

2007 Xizihao 8582

It has a solid kuwei [good bitterness], and yet has deepened noticeably in character.  This time around, I appreciate a thickness of body and a cool, active sensation on the tongue that I had not previously observed.

2007 Xizihao 8582

Progress like this gives me hope that we're doing the right thing, after all, with our storage. 

English storage of pu'ercha?  Whatever next?  It's a strange new world.


Bill said...

What a great post. I have gambled and purchased a few of the xi-zhi beengs and the 8582 is one which I have purchased. They have not arrived yet, so reading what other people are thinking is indeed a treat! I know that VL didn't have a good review for the Dragon and Phonenix. Have you had the opportunity of tasting it?

Hobbes said...

Greetings, Sir!

What a fine gamble that turned out to be. I would breathe a sigh of relief! The DragonPhoenix/Longfeng looks fairly decent in its dry leaf form, but that's as far as I've gone so far. Did you go for that one, too?

I hope that you give us the benefit of your tasting by posting them onto Ancient Tea Horse Road once you've received them - especially given your love of Guoyan Factory bing. Always a treat to read.



Bill said...

Hello Hobbes! Of course I will sumbit my tasting notes on my blog. As for beengs, I ordered a few of the dragon and phoenix, 8582 and the 7542. The others were just way to risky for me to invest as the prices are too high. However, I did order samples.

speakfreely said...

It's always nice to hear others vouch for one's sanity, especially in times of doubt;-)

I'm surprized, though, (well, I shouldn't be, given our history of wildly varying opinions) that you make no mention of a developing floral in later infusions. I was getting strong, unmistakable "lilly" on the inhale after the 3rd or so infusion. (which is pretty far from "mushroom", even when you throw in a little "tangy") Ah, well, vive la difference!

I may brew the remainder of the more expensive samples next to this one to see if I can detect the "clear step down in potency" that you observe. If I do that, I'll probably even (gasp) weigh the samples to rule out that one variable which could profoundly affect potency. (although probably not patience)

Hobbes said...

Bill, a good choice. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the them.

Carla, I had noted some citrus-like sweeter tones, but can't recall it well enough to remember the lily characteristic. I'll keep this in mind for the next session with this good tea.

Toodlepip both,


Anonymous said...

I had a much better than usual session with this tea yesterday--getting the strong apricot taste/aftertaste. I was cleaning up the bing and drinking fragments so maybe I really needed to air it out? Eeehhh, whatever, at least I got good tea for once.


nada said...

The whole leaves may indicate the producer's intention to imitate the 8582 of old rather than the chopped Dayi-era versions.

The earlier 8582's were really rather nice. I think you would be well served to give them a second chance. If you come to visit someday, perhaps we can drink some of one of the first production 8582's together (I need to provide some small incentive for you to visit our little corner of the island!)

Hobbes said...

Lei and I are very much looking forward to a trip to Cornwall, at some stage and we'd definitely like come and visit. Apache's photos show it to be a pretty place!

All the best,