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2017 HK Natural Storage Xiaguan XY Daxueshan Ripe Pu Erh Cake

2017 HK Natural Storage Xiaguan XY Daxueshan Ripe Pu Erh Cake

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November 18th, 2021

Sold out! I have purchased several more tongs of this tea: they'll be up for sale in October 2022.

I purchased eight of these cakes from one of Xiaguan's largest dealers (by volume) in July 2017, very shortly after their pressing by Xiaguan. These ripe pu erh cakes carry both the gold ribbon and the XY mark, indicating they were produced for a Guangdong dealer who is most famous for the Xiaguan Green Big Tree Yiwu productions of pu erh tea lore! The price on these cakes hasn't risen in two years, so I was curious why, since on paper these cakes sound amazing. Da Xue Shan is "Big Snow Mountain," a respected area for pu erh tea in the Mengku region: combine Xiaguan's ability to source quality material at low prices due to their economies of scale, their state of the art ISO-certified production facility and their decades of experience at producing truly excellent shou, and you end up with really great shou at a very nice price point.

This iron cake has loosened up nicely in my storage, and I was able to snap a piece off to brew with relative ease (and very little resultant dust).

The dry cake isn't strongly aromatic, and the liquor here isn't either. It is, however, shockingly smooth. This is the second smoothest shou pu erh I've ever had (the smoothest was 1993 HK traditional storage 7572, which is now long gone), and I think old school pu erh drinkers from Hong Kong and Guangdong would fawn over this tea if they tried it. This tea has smoothness I associate with very old HK-aged shou, but without any of the humid storage notes, or the price tag that would come with tea from the 90s (or older). 

The huigan is excellent, and there is pronounced mouth cooling as well. I could definitely tell this was made with modern single origin material due to how smooth the tea is, as well as from the flavor profile and the huigan. While I would prefer this tea to be a bit more aromatic and flavorful, the smoothness and lovely sweetness, coupled with just enough bitterness to balance the sweetness, make this tea a shockingly good daily drinker for me. The bittersweet effect reminds me of Chinese preserved prunes, which are sweet and salty. This is something I really enjoy in shou, and I think this tea would also work very well in a blend with stronger material (either aged sheng or a more robust plantation shou). I was not able to elicit any astringency at all from this tea!

There is very light sweet oak and camphor to the flavor profile, but sweet Chinese jujube is dominant, along with a hint of something I've only detected in more expensive shou made with wild Yiwu material (by Changtai). This is a shockingly smooth tea in the mouth, during the swallow and in the tummy, so I would highly recommend this tea to someone who needs a mild shou for daily consumption at a price that definitely won't break the bank! I like this tea enough that I am strongly considering picking up a tong for my own consumption over the long term.

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