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2016 HK Natural Storage Xiaguan Cang'Er Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

2016 HK Natural Storage Xiaguan Cang'Er Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

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July 31st, 2020

I purchased five cakes (one tong) of this tea back in April 2017, and have aged it in my warehouse here in Hong Kong ever since! I knew I had to try this tea the day after trying the 2014 Cang'Er 250g tuo. The tong and the tuos were both purchased from the same large volume dealer in Kunming and stored side by side in the same carton, so I was looking forward to comparing the two.

The cake is more aromatic and sweeter smelling than the tuo when dry, which was a definite surprise. Xiaguan used a special mold for these cakes, which features the Xiaguan logo and five stars. The surface of the cake is sprinkled with silver tips, which looks great.

The rinse smelled of wildflower and aged smoke, even at a distance. This is definitely robust material, and I was excited to see how this tea would perform. I used White Label hongni (a shuiping) to test this tea. 

There was some surprising, but definitely not intolerable, upfront bitterness with the first sip. Interestingly the tuo also had initial bitterness, but it wasn't as intense in the tuo. After the first sip, both teas are much less bitter to me, which was interesting. I could taste wildflower and aged out smoke in the first infusion.

My initial impression was that the cake hasn't aged quite as far as the tuo has, perhaps due to compression, but both have excellent intensity of flavor, which isn't always the case with Xiaguan productions. 

In the second infusion, some of the sweet aromatics that I found in the tuo were detectable, but with significantly more wildflower character than sweetness in this cake. I feel the cake is more complex and intense overall, and it may hold up better over time due to the compression (and perhaps material) used for these cakes. I get the same saffron-like note in the aftertaste in both teas. Overall, the cake feels significantly more youthful, and there is a herbaceous character I associate with younger sheng here that I believe will age out with time.  

Side by side, I don't know if I'd be able to tell that these were meant to be the same productions, as they are really quite different. I would consider trying both of my Cang'Er offerings side by side to be a fruitful exercise in just how diverse Xiaguan productions under the same label can be!

I'm definitely looking forward to trying these teas in a year to see how they've progressed, but both are very much drinkable now. 

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