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2011 Jay's HK Storage Xiaguan Yiwu Big Green Tree Cake (50g)

2011 Jay's HK Storage Xiaguan Yiwu Big Green Tree Cake (50g)

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April 24th, 2020

I have had one last cake aging in the warehouse for just over two years, and it is much further along now! This is now a very different tea. This tea is truly lovely now and has developed character that very much reminds me of the Xiaguan Yiwu Zhengshan tuos I've aged here. This is a full and flavorful tea which has aged beautifully. The flavor is hard to pin but it's somewhat date-like with some distinctive floral character. As the liquor cools, some dark fruit aromatics (raspberry and blackberry) surface. The liquor has lots of umami and the cha qi is intense! I'm offering up a few 50g packs from this cake. I'll consider getting more of these to age as this material has done very well in my storage!

These Big Green Tree cakes have been produced since 1999, when they were produced by Xiaguan under the CNNP umbrella. These cakes are made with qiaomu leaf, or leaves from trees that are no longer bushes or shrubs, but have solid trunks. The term is usually applied to trees that are a century old or older, and the term gushu applies to the oldest trees.

These Big Green Tree cakes are made with material from Yiwu Mountain itself, which is the most productive of the six famous tea mountains in Yunnan. In the early years, the primary destination for these cakes would have been Hong Kong itself, where these cakes would have gone through traditional storage. These cakes are legendary among pu erh collectors and the oldest cakes are worth a great deal of money today! 

This 2011 Xiaguan version is the second 2000s BGT (Big Green Tree) cake I've tried: I also offer a 2007 Zhongcha Big Green Tree cake here, which I think I might prefer to this one, but both are very different and I can definitely see how many would prefer this cake (opinions on tea are very subjective)!  

The dry cake smells warm and aged: almost like my own dry storage shu. I was surprised at how nicely aged this tea smells for a cake that is seven years old and has been through Guangdong dry storage, which is controlled more carefully than my own home and warehouse storage, where I allow for more natural temperature and humidity swings. I do run air conditioning and dehumidifiers on the most humid days, but other than that, I let Mother Nature work her magic on my tea! 

These cakes were actually aged just across the border from Hong Kong in a warehouse owned by a Hong Kong merchant. I did not know the owner of the warehouse was from Hong Kong until I started asking lots of questions about 2004 Xiaguan JiaJi tuos, when it came up in conversation with his staff! Due to the astronomical cost of land here in Hong Kong, this vendor has elected to age his tea (and sell it) on the other side of the border. I haven't yet met with the owner, but I hope to later this year!

While the earliest BGTs would have seen traditional storage, it is undoubtable that many went through dry storage here in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the Chinese diaspora starting in the mid-2000s. Xiaguan BGT cakes seem to appreciate quite rapidly, as their character is known and their reputation precedes them! 

When loaded into the 100ml zini wendan pot I also offer here at TeaLife, I noticed some characteristic Xiaguan smokiness emanating from the warm, dry leaf, which was a surprise. The Zhongcha Yiwu is processed quite differently from Xiaguan productions and does not have this smokiness to it. It wasn't unwelcome at all and is quite mellow after seven years of Guangdong aging, but I couldn't help but wonder how advanced these cakes would've been in my storage, which moves things along a little faster! 

After two rinses, I noticed the tea smelled, and tasted, like apricot, a flavor I really enjoy in pu erh and wasn't expecting to find in a Yiwu cake. I really loaded up the pot and the first ten-second infusion was powerful, especially since I had some tea dust in the pot (dust infuses much faster). 10g/100ml was perhaps more than I should have started with, but pushing the tea a little was a good way to see how far it has progressed as far as aging goes. While a little astringent and bitter, it was definitely entirely tolerable. The flavor lingered on the palate for a good, long time. The apricot note persisted and the tea had the smokiness that reminds me of classic Xiaguan JiaJi tuos that have seen some age. The huigan was pronounced and extended, which is always welcome in aged sheng as far as I'm concerned!

The second infusion was much milder, and not at all bitter or astringent. The apricot note and huigan were both still very apparent. This tea has good body for its young age and milder Guangdong storage, and has distinctive Yiwu character along with the smoke and the apricot note. I feel this tea is beautifully balanced between young and aged character, since you get the best of both worlds. It's rare that I try teas that are right on the edge between the two, and I enjoyed the experience much more than I thought I would!

This tea seems fuller-bodied and flavored than the Zhongcha Yiwu, and it also appears to have aged quite differently. The material is choppier than with the 2007 Zhongcha Yiwu and the processing is distinctively Xiaguan. This is a tea that is a pleasure to drink now and would be a pleasure down the line if you were to continue to age it! I did not detect any camphor at all, so I don't know if those notes would appear in future, but this tea appears to be aging toward the sweeter, more date or plum-like side of things. I know I'd like to try an older one and I would also like to age some Xiaguan BGTs myself after my experience with this tea!

Brewing suggestion: Full boil, with water of low hardness (15-35 mg/L, with 1-3mg/L of magnesium). Rinse twice, and start with 10-15 second infusions for the first two or three infusions, then add 10-15 seconds to each successive infusion. If the liquor is too weak, add more time. 

Please note: Volume discounts may be available on this tea. Please contact me for more details!

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