Tuesday, May 13, 2008

2008 Xiaguan FT Nan Zhao Tuocha

Lately I've been turning to tried and true Pu-erh. I've been going back to the ones that make me happy, so I was a little surprised to taste something that was not like anything else I've been drinking lately. I recently bought one of the 454g cakes for Teddy for his birthday, but come to find out, the tuo and the cake are NOT the same thing. The blend is a bit different in them. Also, it's of note that Xiaguan uses 2006 and 2007 leaves for this tuo. That said, I was pleasantly surprised to open the package and find my nose taking in something that smelled of melon. This tiny little tuo easily became the choice for me to sample this evening.

First off, I've got this horrible curse of getting ahold of nothing but ironcake tuos. I was happy to see that my pu-erh knife slid right in and I was able to break off a decent amount of leaf. The tuo itself had a lot of lighter coloured leaf on it, which looked very young. I could see fuzz on some of the leaves. Once I broke it off, there were pieces just begging to come along with it. This tuo is as loose as some of the bings I've cut into. After breaking off enough leaf, I did my initial rinse for about 15 seconds and found...well, not much. No strong aroma, nothing I couldn't smell just by holding the dry leaves up to my nose and inhaling. That seemed a little odd to me. I must be honest when I say I thought I had struck a dud after my first infusion.

The first infusion brewed up a light golden colour, and hid everything like a bashful child. WWMKD? Anyhow, a really weak brew, and upon further inspection, the leaves still hadn't woken up. I suppose we're all a little tired in the morning, but it wasn't until the second infusion when I started to notice some stuff going on. Second infusion gave way to some darker liquor and a slightly stronger flavour. It had a touch of bitterness at this point which I guessed would get stronger the third time around. By the third infusion, I was correct; the bitterness had gotten stronger and then when I said to myself "not something you give to a friend who has never experienced Pu-erh" something interesting happened. I found a patch of sweetness at the very center of the back of my tongue. That sweet melon aroma from earlier had found it's way out of the gaiwan. Not sure why it took so long, but I have a feeling this will just get sweeter over the years. It'll likely only take a couple of years and it should be a consistently smooth, yet hopefully bold tea. I'm starting to feel a little buzzed from this. I feel warm inside. I'm very interested to try the 454g cake now as I'm curious about the differences. It's still very bitter though. The bitterness reminds me of the Menghai 7542(801), but I don't think it works as well. Perhaps I like it so much because it's outside of the norm for my regular drinking? Perhaps there is more to this?

By the fourth and fifth infusion, the colour seems to have settled into this medium golden liquor and the flavour has mellowed a bit too. The bitterness isn't so prominent now, and what is left over is a sweet, yet somewhat bland taste. I really don't need to spend too much time with this to know how I feel about it right now. Don't get me wrong; I do enjoy this, but not because of what it is now. It isn't bad by any means. I enjoy this more because I have a feeling it's going to turn into something really great over the next 3-5 years. It reminds me of a younger cousin you know will be cool someday. Just sitting there asking me to come out and play. Every now and then I'm sure I'll give in, but only because I know I'll want to still play when they become a little more mature.

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