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2018 Jay's HK Storage Xiaguan 7663 Yellow Label Sweet Ripe Pu Erh Tuo

2018 Jay's HK Storage Xiaguan 7663 Yellow Label Sweet Ripe Pu Erh Tuo

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November 17th, 2020

These tuos were a special run in 2018, and were made in the style of the export ripe pu erh tuos from the 1970s. Many of these tuos made it to Europe, most famously to France, and the yellow label on the box even says 'net weight' in French! These tuos are several times more expensive than the standard boxed tuos, so I've been very excited about trying these. I've been holding just three of these tuos since September 2018, and I'm offering up two tuos and a portion for those who are curious about this recipe. These tuos have been stored in my own warehouse in Hong Kong, where tea moves along very quickly without any humid storage notes developing. 

The tuo itself smells sweet, but with some fine tobacco character that reminds me of Dayi's Golden Needle White Lotus, which was a surprise. After the rinse, I feel like I can detect characteristic Xiaguan smoke, even though this tea has been pile fermented, which again, is not something I've encountered in shou before. It's just the ghost of smoke, but it was a definite surprise. 

The first infusion is almost cherry-like, with a hint of interesting bitterness. The liquor is surprisingly smooth. There is pronounced and long lasting huitian (returning sweetness) after the swallow, so Xiaguan's 'sweet' designation definitely holds true. I realize very quickly that this is unlike any shou I've had to date. The liquor is sweeter and smoother than usual. I get a whisper of fermentation aroma, but it actually enhances the experience rather than detracting from it, and it is unexpected in a ripe tuo I've aged for over two years. 

At the bottom of the cup, after the liquor has cooled, I even get some surprising oak aromatics. The sweetness continues through the session, and is very longlasting. The leaves appear to be moderately fermented, but the liquor is also lighter than expected, so I'm not sure about Xiaguan's exact process for this tea. It is definitely something unique, and I would happily drink this tea regularly. 

The tea also has a good calming effect, which is always welcome, and in fact had a stronger effect than the 2019 sheng I drank right before it. 

I notice the liquor is much sweeter after cooling down, and also more aromatic. There is a classic shou flavor here, but this tea is also more complex in ways I haven't experienced before. I get pipe tobacco in a later infusion, which again, takes me back to Dayi's Golden Needle White Lotus from 2017. I find myself wondering if spring gongting-grade material has been incorporated into the blend to achieve this character. The bittersweetness has an old school appeal to it.

This is a great shou and I believe the price point is warranted for the drinking experience it delivers. This definitely stands out as something very different from Xiaguan's entry-level ripe tuos.

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