Xiaguan Tea Factory (Yunnan Sourcing)Edit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I’ve been drinking this somewhere between western and grandpa style for the last day and a half. Steeping in a DavidsTea tea press and pouring into one of the big Favorite Tumblers (both of them are the autumn leaves prints, if anyone was dying of curiosity). The tumbler holds about 1.5 fills of the tea press. The press doesn’t quite squash the leaves tightly enough to fully stop the steeping so between that and topping off with hot water as needed, it’s sorta grandpa-ish but the press got pushed down at about 3 minutes when I did a full water refill so also western-ish. I chucked in three of the mini tuo and the flavor has lasted a surprisingly long time. The flavor isn’t any more exciting or complex than when I gongfu-ed these but it’s been a great seemingly endless, almost no thought required tea to drink while shopping online, reading, playing dumb phone games, eating and whatever else I’ve been doing yesterday and today. It could probably keep going a while longer steeping this way but I’m about ready for a flavor change.
A teeny little tuo in a wee gaiwan on a tiny tea tray with itty bitty teacups today. It looks like tea for a large doll or a small child. I think these tuo are supposed to be 3g, 50ml porcelain gaiwan, glass cups were sold as 50ml but I think they’re really only 30ml. The tray just barely fits the gaiwan, small glass cha hai and two cups. I keep a small tea towel folded inside the tray to absorb the rinse and drips because the tray is so shallow I think water would slosh out when I pick it up. Not my first time drinking this tea but it’s the first time I’ve used this combination of teaware and first time making Steepster notes on it.
This isn’t very fancy tea but it’s cute and the individually wrapped mini tuo are good for travel or quick tea sessions. I could see it being an everyday tea, especially for someone without the tools to pick apart large cakes. It smells kind of savory and brothy to me dry. The wet leaf smells a bit sweeter. It comes apart in just a couple of steeps and the leaf is broken up small bits. The sludge in the bottom of my cup is about the same size as what’s in the gaiwan. Maybe it’s just because I’m hungry but something about it smells like an instant vegetable soup mix to me. Flavor seems like pretty generic ripe pu-erh. It’s not bad but it’s not the most fantastic tea I’ve ever consumed. Definitely drinkable but I don’t feel bad about reading and working on stuff while drinking and not just focusing on the tea.
I think Yunnan Sourcing has the 2019 version of this now, as well as the 2019 raw minis. I’d consider buying them if I can squeeze them into an order. They wouldn’t be super high priority for me but they’re okay and I remember them being pretty cheap. And I think all minis are cute.
Yunnan Sourcing says this shou has notes of whiskey, smoke, and peat, but in the first few steeps I get what I can only describe as the smell of an abandoned warehouse full of lumber or disused whiskey casks. It’s old, decaying wood, but it’s not earthy and organic, like a fallen tree on the forest floor; it’s more musty than that. Takes me back to my urban-exploration days, of all things, when a friend and I would find ourselves exploring PA’s odd little ghost towns, poking into the stale interiors of forgotten houses weakened by summer rain and sun.
Not sure whether that note comes from the fermentation or storage, but it’s not something I’ve experienced yet in a shou. Tasting it, I do notice some old smoke, along with a faint sour cherry note. The wood and smoke linger through most of the session, but start to diminish about halfway through and reveal a thin stevia-like sweetness in the middle. By the end, this puerh’s distinctive flavors have faded into a more “generic” shou profile. The body remains pretty thick throughout — I’ll be honest, the combination of viscosity plus the wood/smoke flavors was a bit off-putting at first, but it’s starting to grow on me.
My experience with shou is still limited, but this one stands apart from other, more typical examples, like Xiaguan’s own Xiao Fa tuocha. A learning experience for me — and an unexpected bit of nostalgia.
Flavors: Cherry, Decayed Wood, Smoke, Sour, Sweet
I have had the tea twice now and this sheng is fantastic. It is 3 years old and smooth and sweet and will only get better. The compression is typical of xiaguan but none of initial smokiness remains. The taste is smooth and sweet with a ton of lasting feeling that extends deep into the throat and lingers in the back of the mouth. The color of the cake is quite dark for a sheng of only 3 years and it has mellowed quite a bit. The material has quite a few full leaves of roughly 1 inch in size. As I type this I’m on my 8th infusion and I have not had any issue with astringency or bitterness. Smooth as silk even with longer steep times if I get distracted. For a factory cake this thing is awesome.
Flavors: Stonefruit, Tea
Having a bit more success as I fiddle around with ratios. Tried using ~10g, but with my 100mL gaiwan, the leaves just didn’t have enough room and it was nasty. The best seems to be about 7g. Get some odd flavors off of it…kinda reminding me of leather, and some light smokiness. I don’t find the texture particularly enjoyable, as it leans more towards chalkiness. Some very brief sweet notes, only in the early steeps. Not awful, but a cheap tea which tastes like one. Oh, it was pretty nasty grandpa style too…smelled/tasted unfortunately a bit like woody sewage :/
Flavors: Leather, Smoke, Sweet, Wood
This is a tasty ripe cake with a fair amount of fermentation flavor left. For those with an aversion to fermentation flavor it was initially somewhat unpleasant even if I wouldn’t say fishy. It was sweet with little bitterness to it. The Yunnan Sourcing description says notes of Whisky/Smoke/Peat. That was not my initial interpretation of this tea but I think it is an alternate description of the notes. This is not really a chocolaty shou. It did develop a nice sweetness in later steeps and was dark and rich in the initial infusions. This was a very strong tea. It was quite enjoyable in the end and the price was right at only $25.
I steeped this tea ten times in a 120ml gaiwan with 10g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min. Judging by the color of the tenth steep I’d say I could get four or five more steeps out of this if I had a desire for that much caffeine.
This is a very tasty ripe puerh that despite being a 2005 tea has not fully cleared. There was a fair amount of fermentation flavor left, especially in the first four steeps. Later steeps were free of fermentation flavor. There was however not funk to this tea, just some basic fermentation flavor. There was a lot of natural sweetness to this tea and very little bitterness. I didn’t find any chocolate notes but could have simply missed them. There was also no smoke to this tea despite being an Xiaguan production. I did find some fruity flavors in later steeps. At $17 for a tuo the price on this is decent. It is not overpriced by any margin.
I steeped this eight times in a 180ml teapot with 12.1g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. Had I wanted to continue I’m sure I could have gotten another four or five steeps out of this tea.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Sweet