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2017 Jay's HK Storage Xiaguan Four Star Big Cabbage Banzhang Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

2017 Jay's HK Storage Xiaguan Four Star Big Cabbage Banzhang Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

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November 14th, 2021

I retested this tea a week ago after noticing a lot of people checking this tea out: the sample cake is now significantly darker than it was in September last year (The last picture, with some of the cake missing, was taken right before retesting this tea). The rinsed leaf made someone six feet away remark that they could smell the tea (definitely a good sign). The liquor is less distinctively Banzhang now in the cup, but I get some interesting citrus-like flavor. This is still a bitter (but balanced) tea with powerful cha qi. This is definitely some of the best modern Xiaguan I've had. My body heated right up during the session.

There are sweet aromatics on the nose, as well as a little smoke and florals in the cup. The flavor lasts a long time on the palate, which is a good sign. The bitterness and potency definitely remind me of LME. The liquor is quite a bit darker now as well. I had to nap after a few infusions of this tea due to its sheer potency!

September 25th, 2020

I purchased these high altitude Banzhang-area gushu cakes from Xiaguan through an official dealer in Kunming back in November 2018, and have been aging these ever since. Please note Xiaguan draws the line for gushu, or ancient trees, at 100 years: different factories and vendors draw the line for gushu at different ages.

When these first arrived in 2018, they smelled very potent and enticing, but I put these away for almost two years before trying one of the cakes yesterday for the very first time. I didn't realize these cakes were double wrapped. There are some light and pleasant aromatic notes emanating from the cake, even through the double wrappers and after almost two years in my warehouse, where tea ages quite rapidly (but without any humid storage notes whatsoever)!

I managed to break a chunk off with relative ease. The compression on this cake isn't too tight, and it's likely that time in my storage has loosened the material up some.

I used 8.4g/150ml for the test session yesterday. After a thirty second rinse, the aroma from the wet leaves was sweet and deep. Xiaguan's neipiao (the paper inner ticket that comes with the cake) said this material would have some bitterness to it. Well, it certainly does, even with my storage on this cake, but it is quite tolerable (if you can appreciate strong, but balanced, bitterness).

The flavor was sweet, complex and floral, and reminded me of good quality Laobanzhang material. Please note this cake is made with material from the Banzhang area, not Laobanzhang itself, which is why this cake isn't too expensive. The bitterness reminded me of Lao Man'E gushu. Xiaguan aren't too specific about where the material for this production was sourced from, but it is definitely old tree material from the Banzhang area, and I could tell very quickly in the first infusion because of the characteristic flavor. This tea should be less bitter with more time on the clock, and I have now transferred these cakes into thick plastic bags. I expect the aromatic intensity to rebound over several months now that these cakes are in plastic, and this cake should be very interesting to try again in six months to see how this tea is progressing.

The cha qi (mental and physical effects) from this tea were quite intense. I found my body heating up quickly, and I started sweating, even in an air conditioned room. My face also felt warm and flushed, which reminded me of some 2005 Laobanzhang I had a few years ago. This is definitely potent tea with good aging potential, and while I didn't know quite what to expect, I have high hopes for this material over time!

I noticed a very minor hint of wood smoke in the second infusion, but almost all of the smoke has aged out in my storage. The flavor is definitely Laobanzhang-like, and some very light astringency was also detectable. I didn't notice any astringency at all in the first infusion.

I noticed my body had gotten quite relaxed, and I jokingly commented that I couldn't move without great effort! This tea packs a decent caffeine wallop as well, so if you're sensitive to caffeine, this tea might not be for you.

I felt the tonic water-like bitterness and intense, warming cha qi seemed right together. This is a great tea that is enjoyable to drink now, but I expect it to get better in both the short term and the long term! I will update this description again when I try it next. 

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