11 June, 2010

2005 Xiaguan 8653

Sometimes, you find sweet little things without even looking.

Stand still in a garden long enough, and a thousand lovely photographs make themselves apparent

This five-year-old Xiaguan was a bargain $20 at China Chadao, where there are a few remaining at the time of writing.  I enjoy hunting around for > 5-year teas - indeed, "you never know what you're gonna get".  The back-pages of Houde, for example, have proven remarkably fruitful of late, where Dr. Lee doesn't seem to put up his prices for teas stocked in previous years.

2005 Xiaguan 8653
Songpin for everyone

I have a soft spot for Xiaguan.  Whether it be the dark, cigar-like overtones imposed on their modern productions, or the rough honesty of their older recipes, they're very straightforward and, usually, quite nicely priced.

As shown below, the cake is showing a few years of age: the tips have oranged a wee bit.  Amusingly enough, the bing is incredibly wonky.

2005 Xiaguan 8653
Do not adjust your set - this is wonky tea

This is a husky cake, and is clearly rather contrived.  It has a heavy, dark flavour that could be a prototype to the infinite variations on a theme of black tobacco that form modern Xiaguan productions.

It is simple, but solid.  After extended brewing, that blackness actually departs, leaving a long, sweet woodiness that is very appealing.  Perhaps the smoke will depart with further age, perhaps not.  It is well-priced, not being worth much more than $20 - I won't be buying more, as I have enough of thsi kind of Xiaguan, but if you've not yet reached saturation, you might like to give it a look.

April, 2014

Whereas once this was husky and "black", in the way of modern Xiaguan, the dry leaves now have a sweet and humid scent, and this encourages me.  In keeping with tradition, this bingcha is tight tight tight.

The "black" smoked notes from its processing have receded into the background; in the foreground we have strong kuwei [good bitterness] and sharp granary flavours.  The colour of the soup is a heavy orange.  It is strong, cooling, and sharp.  It is rough, but reliable.  The warm, full, bitter soup is good, and has depth.  For £20, it is particularly good.

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