I like Xiaguan for two reasons:
One, they’re cheap. ’Nuff said.
Two, the flavor profile most closely matches my very first pu’erh experience, which was in China at a family’s home. I still remember being amazed at this complex, earthy, savory and sweet, intriguing tea that was worlds away from what I knew as tea. Every time I drink Xiaguan it’s like a trip down memory lane.
The flavor profile here is that rich stable-meets-cigar-humidor flavor that is both challenging and intriguing for your palate. It is definitely on the more savory side of things, but there is a nice dried fruit, lemongrass, and hops sweetness that arrives in the finish and lingers in the aftertaste.
Highly recommended for the price. Also, grab a handful of walnuts while you drink – it goes well with the experience.
Dry leaf: stable, hay, tobacco, cigar humidor. In preheated vessel – some fruit notes of dried date and prune arrive.
Smell: strongly brewed black tea blend, hay, stable, tobacco. Some marine/seashore notes.
Taste: hay, strongly brewed black tea blend, black walnut, green tobacco. Hops-like bitterness and sweetness. Some black pepper and seashore notes. Dried date and lemongrass in finish and aftertaste.