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2019 Xiaguan Bulang Gushu Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

2019 Xiaguan Bulang Gushu Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

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This 2019 cake was pressed in late March, and I tested it less than sixty days from pressing! The cake is now much more aromatic after some time in the warehouse here in Hong Kong!

The cake smells sweet and fruity, but with a great deal of depth. Xiaguan's definition of gushu is 100 years old or older, and this tea does indeed have character that I would associate with old tree material.

There is some residual smoke in the material, which was a surprise considering the quality of the material used for this cake, but the smoke is mild and will dissipate very quickly. This is, of course, very fresh tea at the time of testing.

The cake is pressed iron cake style (between hard iron plates), which means even compression throughout the cake, and no pesky hard binghole center to contend with. Xiaguan have gone with iron cake-pressing for a lot of their 2019 cakes, and I must say I'm quite happy about that! These cakes aren't pressed as hard as traditional iron cakes would be, so you get the benefits of iron cake compression without the difficulty that comes with breaking up something like a T8653.

Since this is a new Xiaguan production that meets ISO9001 quality standards, I only rinsed once instead of twice.

The first cup gave me lovely fruity sweet wildflower with some residual smoke. The aroma reminded me somewhat of Laobanzhang material, but with a sweeter aromatic profile (sweeter on the nose, not on the tongue)! The flavor had gushu depth and complexity. Good gushu material leaves me with flavor that goes all the way down my throat and lasts for a good, long, time, and this tea holds up. The calming energy from this tea is also excellent.

The tea has good huigan (returning sweetness after the swallow) and no bitterness. I was surprised that the aromatics were sweeter than the Five Star Banpen: this tea reminded me of a Gedeng or Mahei, almost, because of the pleasant sweet aromatics, but with wildflower complexity that is classic Banzhang. I found the profile to be well balanced, and this tea offers up both depth and sweetness. 

This is a smooth and incredibly complex tea. I was really surprised by how smooth this tea is considering how fresh it is! There is a little astringency, but it is very tolerable. The leaves are of mixed grades blended together, and is a little broken, but the quality of the actual material is truly excellent.

This is a tea I think would age well, but it is also very pleasant to drink young. I got some medjool date in the finish, which was unexpected in such a young tea! While I prefer the Banpen, this tea is much more reasonably priced and is truly stellar value!

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