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Flavors: Camphor, Medicinal
This tea is a solid performer, but not likely to knock anyone’s socks off. Another five to ten years of somewhat damp storage would likely do it favors, as it has fallen into the usual Xiaguan trap of being compressed to the point that it remains intact for future archeological excavations.
Still, the Malaysian storage has done this great favors, as it’s much, more more quaffable than similar Xiaguan (including the 04 cake from AiEC I previously reviewed, interestingly enough). It’s just a long way from here to there with the way Xiaguan starts out, and while the smoke has receded to an excellent level to simply be a flavor complement as opposed to the be all/end all, there’s a depth to the best factory teas that this hadn’t achieved yet. It hints at it, but for now, it’s more of a tease than reality.
If you trust your storage and like old factory tuos though, this is a great price to get in on if you think it’ll get to where some of the better tuos have. I believe it can, but not likely sitting in its cardboard box in my cabinet.
So essentially… sorry green box tuo, it really not you, it’s me.
wet wild outdoor fruity viscous lightorange smooth easy olive taptwice
Just some thoughts.
This tea reminds me of a teenager who is trying to figure our who and what they are. There’s some undertone fruit going on, but as you can imagine… the aging of this tea takes over due to where it was aged. This puts it a little after that awkward stage of aging and yet it doesn’t seem fully ready… I was dual enrolled at college when I was 16 and this is exactly like it was, enjoyable but not fully ready. So do you go for the enjoyment or wait for maximum potential to be reached?
The answer is BOTHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHh
No real feels or anything, but the taste does change a bit throughout making it quite enjoyable for a session and this was my second.
First to be tried out of my Secret Santea teas! Thanks again, twinofmunin! I made this today with 205 F thermos water, 100 ml preheated ruyao gaiwan with a short rinse. It starts off light wood, with the main flavoring being the light, but distinct humid basement storage that reminded me faintly of the funk of shou. That fades out pretty much completely by the second steep and we’re left with a distinct dried fruit and green wood breadiness in the cup that tastes surprisingly like Fig Newtons, honestly.
This base of fig newton flavor lasts for a solid three of the beginning steeps, although each individual flavor progresses and intensifies throughout, getting more syrupy, smokey, sweet, and astringent as the session goes on. The accompanying qi is very settling, like how sediment settles and collects on the bottom, with a bit of heaviness, but not to the point of actually feeling weighted down.
Overall, very calming and interesting tea with a bevvy of transforming flavors and a nice dried fruit wood base that I enjoyed. My main issue is, as usual, the considerable dryness/astringency present throughout, but it was quite enjoyable even with that, and a solid amount of aging for a 2011 in both flavor and color, which was a nice orange.
Flavors: Cookie, Drying, Fig, Green Wood, Herbs, Smoke, Sugarcane, Wood
Before I discuss this tea in general, a few notes of Xiaguan and its importance in the modern dark tea and quantum physics landscapes, a topic which I can assure you I am utterly unqualified to cover.
Xiaguan really rose to its own by providing tea to outlying regions such as Tibet, and consequently, due to their ancient blood fued with UPS and FedEx, it was imperative that they begin researching the more nefarious methods for fitting large amounts of matter into relatively small spaces. This matter folding I dare not describe in any detail, as untrained use tends to result in explosive decompression as a best case outcome. Consult Neil Gaiman’s Kraken for further details on origamists. It is worth noting however, that depending on which source you believe, the Crane should be releasing within the next year or two 250 or possibly even 500g tuo cha that take up the same space as a 10 g or so “mini tuo” with which you may be familiar.
The downside, however, of having your tea stored mainly in the nooks and crannies between the dimensions we more regularly inhabit, is that ithis is difficult for moisture to penetrate unless the RH exceeds a percentage that approximates that of the tea’s density relative to what it would be if it conformed to a more common Euclidean geometry. While this is not one of the more striking examples of XG spacetime hanky-panky, it would still require approximately 175% RH to normalize aging. This is where the trouble starts.
This tea exists in layers of time, not unlike the rings of an elderly tree. While the exterior is a reasonable approximation of twelve years old, the tea’set inside appears to have been held in stasis far greater than any known cryogenic field can currently produce. It is as yet unsubstantiated that incredibly wealthy celebrities are being folded by Xiaguan and only trotted out on momentous occasions, thereby extending their lifespans, but it seems probable that only the exceedingly rich could avail themselves of such services.
It is unknown at the time of this writing whether tea that has been kept extradimensionally can be restored to the current time line without fear of anomaly, but I exp ect t h a t. a. n. y. s
occuranceswouldbebriefandbarelynoticeable to the untrained eye. I would drink this without fear of distorted the world around you. Probably.
But the golden ribbon tuo was better.
I was at the meeting of the coven, trying to learn more about the sourcing and storage of some of the more esoteric implements of the craft, when I approached by one far more advanced than I. You’d know the name if I spoke it, but I am not so foolish as to do so. An initiate like me has no place meddling in the affairs of one so advanced.
“I heard you talking,” quoth the venerable one, “about a certain artifact entrusted to your care. A bowl I believe, lined with a ribbon of gold?” I nodded weakly. “It is time to unleash it. Do us proud.” Saying no more, the elder walked away.
I was filled with anticipation, and also a measure of dread. The Crane does not respond to the weak-willed. I brought out my athame, and began the ritual. I shed my blood for Xiaguan, the mighty crane, and it rewarded me with a few feathers from the tips of its wings.
As I began to extract the essence of the plumage and imbibe it, I could tell that it was filled with a very elemental power. It was more potent than a vessel such as myself can contain, and it poured out of me in waves. If the force was out tonight with their tea sniffing dogs, I was done for. After a brief hiatus to internalize what was coursing through me, I soldiered on.As if this initial overload were a test that I was considered to have passed, the Crane lessened its onslaught, though knowing not its own power it could never be described as gentle. There was no smoky or burnt sensation, perhaps signifying that the care I took in preparation was pleasing to it. For all that, it was undoubtedly of the Crane, whose essence is unmistakable to the initiated.
All too soon, the feathers began to degrade, being not made for the harshness of the mortal world, and would find their way into my chalice, a silent accost at the affronts of my all too human treatment. As this continued, it was clear that no magick remained in the offering. I had been vouchsafed a vision of what could be, but not for such as me, not yet. All that sat before me was a rather fine tea.
But as the afternoon wore on, this proved to be enough.
When it took this out of the bag, it had a definite odor. What was it again?
Ah, yes. Camphor.
This dry leaf aroma is not even messing around. I was briefly concerned I’d accidentally brewed some sort of potpourri by mistake. There definitely was not attempt to hide anything in the name of this tea – it’s old, and it smells like camphor. So far, so good.
Early steeps taught me what the “leather” flavor I’ve occasionally heard mentioned is like. It didn’t make any sense to me as a descriptor not having tasted it before, and now that I have, the mental clouds have parted. So if you haven’t had something you’d describe in that manner, don’t assume it tastes like the rawhide cup in the Stone Age board game smells*.
The taste settled down throughout the steeps, which were many. There may have been a slight hint of storage aspect, but it definitely wasnt strong or overwhelmingly “moist” in nature. Just good humidity that helped the tea age well. It lasted longer than I had expected, since I figured loose sheng wouldn’t have the longevity of a compressed tea. Of course, age may have been the counterbalancing factor here, as I haven’t had much 90s compressed tea. What I suspect may be a product of the loose storage is a relative lack of complexity. Development really didn’t occur much. although every cup tasted quite good, it tasted very much like the last.
However, at the relatively low cost for something of this age, if you like a little camphor in your nasopharyngeal diet, you might do well to pick this up. If camphor is not your thing, one of Wilson’s tuos may hit the spot better – I intend to crack into my XG gold ribbon sometime next month, and will leave a note here when I do.
One thing’s for sure, I’m excited to see what other treats may be on offer from exciting new source of teas!- And the tasting note failure award for most unnecessarily obscure reference goes to….