20 April, 2009

2008 Xiaguan - XY "8853"

An Easter gift from my mother (pictured below). What better way to celebrate the resurrection of Our Lord than by eating boiled eggs from a lapine cranial cavity.

2008 Xiaguan XY 8853

Friends speak highly of this tea, and at $22 per bing from Yunnan Sourcing, the potential for great bargainage is upon us. I am not fond of the word "redux", so let us merely say that this tea is based on the 8853 recipe from 2001. (Why 2001, and not 1988?) It feels that I have reached saturation with special Xiaguan cakes from 2008, and I have deliberately neglected my sample of this tea. Notes from friends nudged me out of my stupor, and I aim to give it a fair session.

A certain "Ye Binghua" of Guangzhou is behind the "XY" label, and you may remember the 2008 XY "Big Green Tree". 'Twas tasty, with a quality akin to that of the "FT" label, also from Xiaguan. The product description records that this was made using maocha from spring 2007 and 2008.

What do you think of the maocha in the above photograph? The leaves are quite small - much smaller than the "5" in "8853" would suggest. My first impression was that they were dark, and that the aroma was very solid indeed. It is pungently sweet and, in that modern Xiaguan manner, a little smoky. The sheer potency of the aroma is encouraging - perhaps there is some real content.

2008 Xiaguan XY 8853

I'm not a big fan of yanking flowers out of the ground to cheer up my photographs, and instead rely on windfalls. Fortunately, the strong winds of the English springtime, combined with heavy blooms weighing down the branches of trees and bushes, do not leave us wanting.

It's at times like this that I really appreciate the feminine touch around the house brought by my dear wife, as I am entirely unconscious of such things until they crop up on our shelves and tables.

That strong aroma from the dry leaves lives on in the wenxiangbei [aroma cup] - sweet and tart. First impressions: thick. Sweet fruits to open, chunky sweetness to finish. This is solid and has plenty to get your teeth into. Wisps of the Xiaguan smokiness remain in the nose, afterwards.

This is a "big" pu'er, rather like the stereotype of Californian wine.

2008 Xiaguan XY 8853

Later infusions bring development of the cereal-like Lincang character. As the leaf swells, potent the brew becomes. Much later, all aspects are outpaced by its goodly sweet nature. There is charm here, and out into the later infusions as is unexpected for factory tea. It is unavoidably Xiaguan, but I enjoy it, for all its familiarity.

Those little leaves, shown above, carry much withal.

A hit! A very palpable hit!

24 April, 2009

Subsequent sessions are quite different to that described above - the tea is pleasant, but does not swell to the "big" proportions noted above, no matter how I adjust the brewing parameters. During later sessions, it seems thinner, less complex, and less stuffed full of content. I downgrade my purchasing intentions!


speakfreely said...

Oh, gifts from mom. The simultaneous mix of pain and affection is so familiar (in the most literal sense of the word) to me. :-)

Hobbes said...

Heh, yes. Pain and affection. Just so.

speakfreely said...

The tea, OTOH, sounds genuinely interesting. If I were buying, which I'm not. Really. I swear, no tea buying. ;-)

小 約翰 said...

Me thinks Mata is sending a; not to subtle message.
A: tong hua 童話, character egg cup?

speakfreely said...


Easter, before the Christians co-opted it, was a pagan festival of shagging and Springtime fertility. Mothers NEVER fail to celebrate this conspicuously in the presence of their married, childless, children. Whenever my nephew misbehaves at family gatherings I make a point of saying something like "oh, all the things I'm missing out on...". It's only fair to push back a little.

Hobbes said...

Bravo, madame, on your splendid use of the verb "shagging".

Shago ergo sum?

speakfreely said...

Thank you, sir. It's one of the more positive euphemisms, IMO. Shago ergo sum, indeed.

Montreal foodie said...

What are those flowers, anyways? They're very pretty, and they look a treat with the tea...
I had a question about teaware and was at a loss for somewhere else to put it. I live in Montreal, which has a decent Chinatown, and I've been doing the teashop crawl for some time now. I've found a lot of teaware there for dirt cheap, and I'm wondering if, as a beginner and cheapskate, I should buy some, or if the quality is likely to be so dismal that I oughn't to bother. What's your advice?

Hobbes said...

Dear Ariadne,

I've read good things about the Chinatown in Montreal! Remember that, more or less, you tend to get what you pay for. The teaware is probably quite basic... but that can be a good thing, if you're interested in learning, or you want some semi-disposable equipment for your office. I have a collection of inexpensive pots and gaiwan in my office for that purpose - when the cleaners break them, it doesn't matter. :)

Buying inexpensive teaware is the right course of action when you're starting out. See if you enjoy it, get an idea for what type of pots you enjoy the most, and then you can upgrade individual pieces as necessary. Start slowly, and let us know how you get on!



Bill said...

I swore that I would never buy XG pu again Although your description makes rethink it. I have just been so unhappy with their offerings as of late. Perhaps with the end of the boom we may see something different. Thanks!


Lainie Petersen said...

Oh boy, now you have me craving the tea eggs that my favourite local tea room sells (i.e. hard-boiled eggs with cracked shells, then cooked in tea and spices).

Hobbes said...

Dear Bill,

There have been some superb Xiaguan releases! The Xizi tuocha and the FT Baoyan jincha spring to mind...

Dear Lainie,

Now I'm craving them, too. :(