2007 Xi-Zhi-Hao Classic 8582

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Pu'erh Tea
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195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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From JAS eTea

To many, the Xi-Zhi Hao (more properly Xizhihao) brand requires no introduction, for the last 3 years Mr. Chen (a Taiwanese man with a passion for Pu-erh) has created some of the most highly acclaimed tea cakes on the market. He is extremely dedicated to his work and has been known to hike the mountain trails of Xishuangbanna scouting out the best wild arbor raw material. In this way, he guarantees that if the cake says its “Nan Nuo” or “Pa Sa”, it really is! He selects the best “mao cha” from these areas and oversees its processing from start to finish to make sure it turns out just as he needs it to be!

What if you were to take one of the most famous blend recipes of all time and re-invent it by using only the highest grade material from wild arbor trees? This is exactly what Mr. Chen (with the help of ex-Menghai Tea Factory master tea blender Ms. Dong Guoyan) has done! It is a living tribute to the great heritage of blended recipe Pu-erh! In this case they have used only the best raw material and small batch processing, taking the drinker back in time 20+ years to a time when MOST of the raw material used to make these classic recipe cakes was really excellent quality! This is the 8582 cake, a classic Menghai Tea Factory recipe first formulated in 1985!

Production area: Meng Hai County
Other Comments: Highest Grade Pu-erh from Ancient Trees. San He Tang Company Production – (Pressed and packaged in the Mengyang Guoyan Tea factory in Jinghong)

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2 Tasting Notes

59 tasting notes

Pulled this out of the old big-bag-o-tea-at-work and thought, hey! sheng! how did this get in the bag? Sounds like a nice afternoon tea.

Steeping in my brew basket.. quick “improv gongfu style” steepings.

The leaves smell pleasant enough (smoky, metallic shine, a faraway berry that’s almost musk-like). The nose reminds me of Banzhang, but I honestly haven’t looked into what makes up this particular recipe. Liquor is an orangey color.. auburn?

First steeping:
Hm.. not too much here, in terms of either taste or texture. I know there should be something here, so it’s a bit like playing hide-and-seek. Flavor? Where are yooou? Maybe it will come as I sip and the cup cools…

After sipping through half of my cup, I’ve found a little more. There’s a whisper of metallic smoke in the taste. The body of it reminds me of the last dying breaths of a sheng.. way into the 25+ steepings, where you have mostly just body, overlaid with ghost reflections of all that’s come before. Only issue here is that I don’t have any aftertastes and textures for this body to play with (since this is the first steeping), so I’m left puzzled. Most of what I get is in the aftertaste/texture. My tongue feels puckered.. dry only in the front of my tongue, but luckily not in the back of my throat. It almost feels like I’ve burnt my tongue, but goodness knows the water here at work can’t get that hot. The aftertaste is also reminding me a bit of a Chinese restaurant jasmine-green (some astringency on the sides of my tongue links of with dinner-grade jasmine perfume, plus the mellow vegetal grassiness).

Overall, mellow, but strangely absent. Since I’m working at the same time, the lack of complexity or..er…flavors are fine, but I’m a little sad. Guess I’m spoiled for sheng pu’er these days and was looking forward to a bit of unexpected sparkle and surprise. It’s also a young brick, so on the plus side, I don’t feel like I’m getting kicked in the teeth with a bucket of smokey, bitter coins!

I’ll try the next steepings with less water and hotter water to see if I can get this shy one to open up into something fun. No “chaqi” to speak of so far, but I am feeling a bit of the jitters creeping up on me.. Perhaps if someone were smoking, I would have an uneasy stomach, but luckily, this isn’t China.

Second Steep
Used much less water here, and steeped it for close to 40 seconds (normally, on a second steep of a similarly aged sheng, I would do 10-15..). There we go: there’s something in the cup this time. The color is a pretty orange (like some of the leaves outside).

I’m getting much more Banzhang now, but the taste reminds me much more of Banzhang fannings I’ve had on occassion (ends of bricks, or taking from the bottom of a pouch because I’m just drinking by myself). By that, I mean there’s grainy wood on the underside of the sides of my tongue. In other shengs, I’ve found this appealing, but I think that’s because it is so often paired with a chocolate or hazelnut or cream texture and taste in the middle. This one is hanging out by itself, reminding me of a dock in the middle of a bay. Where are you going? What are you pointing to? It’s just out by itself in a body that is sweet… simple and generic, with no berry or fruit specificity.

The puckering is still there, layering up on itself like quilts. Atringency turning to true bitterness, but not so unpleasant because it’s all concentrated on the front of my tongue, not the back.

Aftertaste seems at first nonexistant, or just a bright vegetal vibration that tapers off in a second or two. After a minute, I realize this now reminds me of citrus and spice. It doesn’t taste that way.. I just find myself reminded.

It’s certainly caffeinated (hello diuretic!), but in terms of energy. this feels more like a sloshy, unruly caffeine that wants to shake out into my arms or leave my with water in my shoes.. not a feeling of calm and center. As it cools, I realize that I do not want this to cool. The woodiness and astringency are bullying their way to the forefront as all of the other aspects fall asleep. Doing this from little cups would certainly eliminate this issue.

I wonder if I can get another steeping out of these leaves? It’s kind of terrifying to imagine steeping a sheng of this age for over a minute on the third steep, but I think that’s what’s called for. Adventure time.. ho!

Third Steeping
Well, I did it. Tiny amount of water, and steeped for almost a minute and a half.

No disaster here, though. I had to sneak in a peanut butter cracker sandwich while this was steeping, since it definitely made me hungry. The first sip was actually pretty nice with the aftertaste of salty peanut butter.

This steeping is definitely more full and flavorful, but at the same time, it continues to feel as if this tea was already mostly steeped out before I started drinking. There are some floral elements, notes that remind me of nut skins in a savory sweet sauce (black bean or garlic?). These are all whispers and implications, so I may be working a little hard to pull them into substantial references. Mostly, this reminds me of a young sheng that is nearing the end of it’s steeping arc.

I’m not sure about this one. A friend and I put together a JASetea order quite awhile ago, and this is some of what’s left. On the whole, I’m perfectly fine not having a brick of this to age. The description emphasizes the high quality leaves and the classic recipe. Sure, fine. I don’t think there’s anything that stands out negatively.. except that nothing much has stood out during my steeping. It’s a wallflower plastered underneath the wallpaper, behind a giant chair. When pushed for more complexity and interest, it seems to just push right on over. At it’s best, it was sweet and mellow, with nothing to stick out and grab the interested sipper. Safe to the point of boredom. But then again, I don’t know if I would recommend this to someone who’s afraid of shengs, because it has offered little reward today, and it can get overly woody, wooly, and metallic. It’s no kick in the face, but it’s not much of anything else either.

To be fair I am steeping this at work in a brew-basket, not in my little gaiwan, not in spring water at just below boiling. This will probably be more generous in more loving conditions, but still.. I have my doubts about what this really could be giving, even treated in the most pampered way.

Has anyone else tried this recently? It’s been sold out for sometime from JASe Tea, but apparently it’s been a big hit with some pu’er bloggers? I’m not sure myself.. it mostly just leaves me puzzled.

One more update
The caffeine from this is harsher than I previously thought. Sure, it is a little chilly back here, but not enough to leave me shivering and my teeth chattering! Whoooo… I have no upset stomach, but I would not want to be balancing any fragile things right now. Generally, I am blissfully immune to caffeine’s stimulant effects. I don’t think I’ve had a reaction like this since the days of spending 8+ hours sampling teas with no breakfast or lunch in me.

Charles Thomas Draper

They are sold-out other than samples.

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41 tasting notes

I bought a sample of this tea because of all of the hype over Xi-Zhi-Hao on Jas-eTea. I wanted to try what many others were calling the best Sheng out there. This one is younger (2007) but considering several of the highest end bricks I have are that young, I figured this one would be old enough to try.

The sample is a nice loose compression with big arbor buds and leaves. Very nice visually! I had high hopes for this brick. I am using 5 grams of leaf material and around 200 degree water on this one. There really isn’t all that much to say about this tea to be honest. What I did recognize right away is that it is not offensive. Usually with sheng pu’er of this age you will get something unbearably drying and smokey right from the start. This tea tries to steer clear of any of that. It doesn’t necessarily want to say anything however. With some sheng of even higher quality than this one you will get something that is not only non-offensive but also minutely complex and interesting.

This one is not.

By steeping 3 the classic “Sheng” flavor of smoke and a common astringency start to creep in. But overall I would actually say that this is a better sheng than probably 80% of what I’ve tried. Not really worth investing money in a brick but certainly wasn’t a bad experience.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

Do you think this would have the potential to grow into something interesting? Or is it just sweet and flat? If there’s really nothing there and it’s boring, I wonder what all the hype is about- just “super acceptable!” sort of thing?


Funny, I think the 2008 pressing of this tea is outstanding. Interesting to see that perhaps the 2007 is not all that great.

Nathaniel Gruber

Hmm, good question. Honestly, I wouldn’t buy a brick of this to age simply because there are better options out there. As you said, I was amazed at how flat the tea was. I thought that with something touted as being some of the best Sheng available in this country that it would have more complexity than it did.

In a weird way I am almost happier with a much much cheaper brick of Sheng which is much smokier. It’s as if it’s better that something is going on rather than nothing, even though the cheaper one has that classic Sheng smoke.

Nathaniel Gruber

Hmm the 2008 must have been a better year.

It’s not as though this tea was bad by any means. A 59 rating is really high above average for me. I think that perspective for each of us individually is important as well…for example; had I not had a couple of my best Sheng’s earlier in the day I probably would have thought this brick to be better than I did. I had the Artisian Stone Pressed Sheng by Verdant Tea earlier in the day, so I think that my palate was a little bit skewed. Perhaps if I drank this for the first time after not having Sheng for a week it would taste better.


Every day, every tea is different than every other day you’ve ever brewed it.

Nathaniel Gruber

I couldn’t agree more, and I find that to be particularly true with Pu’er. Luckily, the best stuff might change but usually in a good way.


I would say that it’s unfortunate, if this really has no smokey drying quality, as that is one of my personal favorite qualities known to this style. Why anybody would NOT want that totally escapes me.

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