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2004 Classic HK Dry Storage Xiaguan 8653 Raw Pu Erh Cake (15g)

2004 Classic HK Dry Storage Xiaguan 8653 Raw Pu Erh Cake (15g)

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26th April, 2020

This tea was not traditionally stored, as I was originally led to believe: it is dry stored the traditional HK way, sans dehumidifiers or air conditioning or any form of unnatural climate control. This is similar to how the original 88 QB was stored.

This tea is from another of Hong Kong's oldest merchants. I walked past this merchant dozens of times over the years, but never ventured inside for a better look. I'm glad I finally did, as the family's storage is excellent!

As you can probably make out from the pictures, this tea has not been wet stored, and it certainly isn't Guangdong dry stored with air conditioning or dehumidification! There is absolutely no mold visible on the surface of the cake. There is a light aroma of humid storage from the dry cake, but it is very subtle. I purchase new 8653 and T8653 for my own storage quite regularly, and certain years smell very smokey indeed, like many Xiaguan products. 

When I first tried this tea, it was a wonderful surprise. In the first few infusions, the leaves smelled of wildflowers and fruit with a hint of storage. None of the storage carried over into the cup at all! The tea was slightly sweet and only very slightly astringent and bitter. There were pronounced black tea and citrus notes, along with mango from the second infusion onwards. There was a wild honey-like character to the flavor profile as well, which was really very pleasant. This tea had aged much like my home storage 7542, indicating the storage had been done very, very well. I prefer old school HK dry storage since you can still enjoy the aromatics and flavor of the parent material, but with the bitterness and smoke aged away in a much shorter period of time. This company's warehousing style is really perfectly balanced. The tea brews up a lovely copper and has excellent longevity. I had to quit before I brewed the tea out as I'd already worked my way through a connoisseur grade dahongpao session during the day!

If you like classic Hong Kong dry storage, this would definitely be your cup of tea. This tea really shows you the potential of Hong Kong's legendary dry storage to speed things up without removing all of the origin character from the cake. This is definitely one of the best examples of HK dry storage I have encountered to date (for my tastes). While the tea was slightly more astringent and bitter than it would be with more humid or prolonged storage, the lovely flavor I get from this tea make this one of my favorite HK-stored shengs without a doubt!

Brewing suggestion: 5-8g per 100ml. Less or more depending on your taste. Place tea in a preheated pot or gaiwan. Rinse twice with boiling water, or water just off the boil, allowing 30 seconds to one minute between rinses to allow the leaves to expand. I like to use 10-20 second rinses, but some prefer to rinse for longer; this is a matter of personal preference. My first infusion is usually 30-40 seconds long, but you can vary your infusion lengths depending on the amount of leaf you use, and how strong you like your tea.

Please note: most traditional Hong Kong tea merchants do not offer discounts on volume until I am purchasing several kilograms at a time, and in most cases, no discounts are offered at all, even for ten kilos of a single tea or more. For this reason, I cannot offer a discount on larger purchases at this time.

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