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2016 Jay's HK Storage Xiaguan Qianjiazhai Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

2016 Jay's HK Storage Xiaguan Qianjiazhai Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

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July 7th, 2021

I purchased this cake back in October 2016, and have been aging it in my dedicate pu erh storage warehouse here in Hong Kong ever since. This tea has aged beautifully over the years, but it's taken almost five years of my storage to make this tea pleasant to drink. I was very excited to try this tea when I first got it due to the fancy silver packaging and strong, complex aroma emanating from the cake. This is some of the first young Xiaguan tea I ever purchased, and I had high hopes for it, but this tea was too astringent and bitter to drink in my two previous sessions over the last five years. This is likely to be the farthest along example of this cake you're going to find anywhere, and without any humid storage notes or old book notes whatsoever. The character was also wonderfully preserved.

The dry cake has been stored in a carton, uncovered, and I expect the aromatic intensity to increase greatly now that the tea is bagged. The dry cake is now stored in one of the cotton paper-covered thick plastic bags I use to ship and store cakes in. The cake is already much more aromatic than it was this morning, which was unexpected. 

The cake is tightly compressed, and even almost five years of my very active HK storage didn't loosen this cake up much. This cake was compressed to classic Xiaguan standards, and in this case, I think Xiaguan may have made the right choice as there's lots of pleasant, sweet flavor here that might have been lost otherwise. 

After the rinse, the leaves smell surprisingly smokey considering how long this tea has been stored uncovered, but this doesn't carry over into the cup. Surprisingly the chunks I pried off opened right up after the rinse, which I didn't at all expect based on how compressed the cake is and the effort it took to pry chunks off.

The flavor is sweet apricot and peach dominant, which are flavors I get in some old tree material from Yunnan and across the border in Myanmar. Qianjiazhai is a high mountain village in the Ailoshan area, which is well over 2000m above sea level. This tea has very good umami as well, which I always enjoy in a sheng with some age on it. Umami can indicate high theanine content. As the liquor cools, some sweet wildflower character arises. I don't detect Xiaguan plantation character in this tea, so it's possible this cake is comprised entirely of material from Qianjiazhai. Xiaguan often blends their plantation material into their productions, but I don't taste their Dali plantation material here at all. I also don't get the cantaloupe/date oolong flavors that are common in many modern sheng productions, so I believe the oxidation of this material was carefully controlled.

There is no astringency and bitterness in the first infusion, but I pushed this tea hard and was able to elicit some with longer steeps. My second and third steeps were already over a minute long. It's amazing how much this tea has mellowed over time, and it's in a good place right now since it still has clearly distinct origin character. 

The best thing about this tea, however, is the energy I get from it. This tea is calming and energizing without ever getting racey or uncomfortable. This would be a great tea to get my day started, or really at any time of day, since it doesn't get me wired. How I react to this tea may not be how you react to it, however, so your mileage may vary!

This is an interesting offering from Xiaguan and it's taken a long time to get this tea to where it is. I expect this cake to be much more painful to drink from other sources. I'm only offering up a few samples from this cake, and I will update this description as the tea rebounds further in bagged storage since I feel there's lots more complexity here than is immediately apparent straight from warehouse storage. I will likely keep the bagged cake at home now to allow it to 'cool off' some.

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