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2007 HK Natural Storage Xiaguan 8653 Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

2007 HK Natural Storage Xiaguan 8653 Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

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Only one cake left!

September 5th, 2020

I've been aging eight cakes of 2007 Xiaguan 8653 since November 2016, and finally got around to testing this tea this morning! The aroma from the cake last night was of intense dark wildflower and aged out smoke, so I didn't know what to expect in the cup. I'm happy to say this tea greatly exceeded my expectations today.

This legendary recipe was originally devised in the 1980s for a Hong Kong dealer to age with the traditional storage method, but this tea absolutely excels in HK dry/natural storage as well, and the results here are testament to that.

This tea was procured from one of Kunming's largest wholesalers (no, not a Western-facing one): at the time, this dealer was also one of Dayi's largest wholesalers. This tea was stored in what many in the pu community affectionately (or less than affectionately) call Kunming cryostorage, meaning the tea had not changed much at all between 2007 and 2016 due to the very conservative storage conditions. Well, almost four years in my warehouse has certainly moved this tea along considerably, but without imparting any unpleasant humid storage notes due to my specific storage conditions here, eleven floors above street level.

The dry cake is heavily compressed, but I was able to pry off solid chunks for brewing, so there is definitely plenty of moisture in the material (it didn't crumble into dust when I picked a chunk off). Please note due to strong sunlight this morning, the cake appears brighter than it is in person, and the liquor is redder in person as well. 

I brewed this tea in a 150ml Yixing Factory 1 Green Label pigeon beak shuiping, which is my latest Yixing pot (and my current favorite for aged sheng). I used approximately 10g for the test session, and rinsed once.

I was very surprised to be greeted by dominant sweet cherry aromatics, light aged book notes and aged citrus. This tea has a lot in common with Xiaguan's Love Forever or Everlasting Love, so there is certainly some Dali plantation material in those productions that has aged similarly. These 8653 cakes have aged beautifully, and should get better and better over the next several years, but it's likely these will sell before then since a lot of people have been interested in trying these cakes from my storage.

I got a hint of sweet camphor in the cup as well, which was pleasant, and balanced the rest of the flavor profile well. One big surprise was how much umami I got from the liquor here. It appears a lot of the tea I age has strong umami character, and this tea has some of the strongest umami I've had in sheng to date. There is also a lovely agarwood incense note here which is always welcome, especially in tea that has aged this cleanly, and aged citrus peel notes. The aftertaste is strong and longlasting in this sheng, which is a testament to the quality of Xiaguan's plantation material of the time. The cha qi is pleasant and lightly calming, although I wasn't well rested enough this morning to truly assess the cha qi. Now I have an excuse to have another session of this tea after I've had a good night's sleep!

I was surprised that the chunks of cake I brewed today opened up quite readily after one rinse and one good infusion, since the cake was so tightly compressed. the sample I picked off was from near the binghole on the back of the cake, instead of from the edge.

I feel this tea is undervalued for the quality, but storage absolutely matters, and it's likely that a lot of these cakes are stored in environments that aren't able to bring the best out of the material. I aged this tea right in the paper tong wrapper, so I expect much more complexity from this tea now that it is stored in a thick plastic bag.

The second infusion brought out some pleasant and balanced bitterness and sourness: this should age down with time, but I quite enjoy this tea as is and I think many of you will too. The material used for this cake is definitely different from a standard Xiaguan Jiaji or Teji tuo, although those are excellent in their own right as well.

The cherry and agarwood notes persisted through five infusions, before I stepped away for a meal (I was ravenous)! 

This is a truly excellent sheng that has aged beautifully in my environment. I only have a single tong (and a few samples) from my own storage. I am definitely looking to pick up more 8653 cakes from this period to age as this material has very much proven itself in storage. Please don't hesitate if you want one of these cakes as I expect them to move very quickly! Once these are gone, it will be several years before I will be able to offer up 8653 from this time period with my own storage on it.

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