Sunday, November 23, 2008

"I love you Daddy" (Revisiting the '8100')

Several months back, I had a bad run-in with the Xiaguan '8100' and casually made a promise to myself that I wouldn't try this again until after my daughter had said "I love you Daddy" for the first time, which happened yesterday. Over the past seven months, I'd like to think that the aging process may have smoothed this out a bit, and that perhaps the passing of time smoothed me out a bit too, as my brewing is a bit more consistent now. I figure this is a good time to revisit something that everyone else but me seemed to love.

I used 8g of leaf in a 100ml gaiwan for this. I used spring water and brewed this around 180F (since my water boiler freaked on me last time I throttled down on it). I used my usual (aggressive) steeping times: 15s rinse, 15s, 12s, 25s, 35s, 50s, 1:15, 1:25, 1:35, 1:45, 2:00. This was perfect for the first couple of infusions, as they had a sweet, almost syrupy presence, but I quickly realized that this is still a little more finicky of a tea than I've been drinking lately. By the fifth bitter infusion, I thought I was headed down a dead-end and decided to throttle the time back to 15 seconds again and started receiving much better results. The leaf expands quite a bit more than usual, so perhaps 8g is a little more than is necessary to enjoy this. I guess this may be the case because the leaf has filled the gaiwan up to the brim. I'll try it again next time with a little less leaf and see if my usual steeping times once again bring me to another untimely tragedy. However, as it stands, a little shorter times are yielding a much better cup.

Starts sweet, with a little bit of dry bitterness. Normally I'm not a fan of that in such young pu, but for some reason, it works now. It lingers on the roof of my mouth with a slight tingling and cleans up to a very smooth and refreshing aftertaste.

I'm still not 100% convinced I really like this one, but it's definitely been a much better conversation this time around. I feel I was actually able to get somewhere with this, instead of the pure frustration I ran into last time. The bitterness I kept getting last time was likely due to lower grade water, steeping too long, and too much leaf. This time, it's significantly better and will likely just be a matter of tweaking the leaf quantity and steep times.

So, it's better this time around, but still not where I'd like to see it. I'll try again soon.


Hobbes said...

Don't the leaves look pretty?

I seem to remember seeing this one in the collection that you've kindly sent to me, so look forward to trying it out when all the dust settles here. :)



Jamus said...


Indeed, there is a sample of this one for you. I'm hoping your initial impressions are better than mine were because it really is a good tea. It's just a matter of time before I figure out a way to be friends with it. Slowly, I'm changing my approach to this one, but I'm definitely feeling optimistic.

I'm reminded of St. Exupery's Le Petit Prince where the fox and the prince meet every day at the same time. First cautious, and definitely not trusting. Then, little by little, they get closer and closer until eventually they have tamed one another. The fox says, "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose."

It's just that in this case, we're talking about leaves, not petals. ^__^


Hobbes said...

Xiaguan have been good this year, haven't they :)

All the best,


Brett said...

Excellent Post Man! I can tell you are a proud papa!

My little gal is almost nine months old... you've inspired me to choose an "I love you daddy tea" too!


Jamus said...


Almost everything I've had from Xiaguan this year has been pretty tasty. I've been particularly fond of their smokier teas for some reason. The Flame Toucha being the one I had the most fun with.


Just make sure that you stick firm to it when you put it away. Whenever that time comes, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment when you get to break it out again. To me, it had much to do with the trials and rewards that come from being a parent. I'm sure I don't need to remind you of the sanctity of such events though. ^__^


Bill said...

Thanks for the post! Great stuff! Oh, I also took the liberty of adding you to my blog roll! Peace.

Salsero said...

I just had a very enjoyable session of this 10 months after being disappointed in my initial try at it. It certainly does not have the poker-room and horse-sweat tastes that I crave in sheng, but it was extremely enjoyable and left me very happy that I have a cake of it. Astringency was under control and even a pleasant taste component.

I went with boiling water, 6 gr in a 100 ml gaiwan (I think the porcelain may help this tea): 20 s, 15 s, 20 s, 30 s, 40 s, 60 s, 90 s, 2 m, 2:30 m, 3 m, 4 m, 5 m, 10 m. I enjoyed every infusion though I am at a loss for words to describe the sensations, tastes, and aromas.

Jamus said...


It's good to hear from you, as I've been out of touch with a lot of people in the pu-erh community lately. My daughter is fast becoming my best friend, life has taken me down several unexpected avenues, and the weather is getting much nicer. All of these things have kept my fingers away from the keyboard and under open skies.

I'm happy to know that I wasn't the only person out there who didn't like this pu-erh at first. It looks like your steeping times and quantity of leaf are very similar to what I use. Also, I only brew sheng in a porcelain gaiwan. I've found that for sheng, it gives me the truest taste and leaves me a lot more certain about my impressions of the tea. Perhaps I'll break out a little bit more of this today and see if the transition from autumn and winter into early spring have been kind enough to this one while I've been struggling to stay warm and keep healthy.

Best wishes,