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23 August 2008 @ 02:29 pm
Mystery Xiaguan Cooked Tuocha  
Found this tuocha at a 'Voyageurs' encampment at my local metropark.
They are at least two years old according to the merchant (She'd had them in her stock that long.)

Is there any way to tell approximately how old they are?
Does the character wrapping predate the Crane wrapper I see on most sites?

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Highly compressed in the middle, loose around the edges- I pried some off and gave it a run in my guywan. Rinsed and brewed quicly.
First brew is dry tasting and very earthy, but, amazingly enough not in the least bit pondy or fishy tasting. (My usual complaint with Cooked pu) Not complex, but we'll see how it progresses.

Think its worth picking up a few more at $8 each?
salsero_de_te on August 23rd, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
Look pretty and sounds tasty. I'd probably buy a couple more. Why not? Course, like you, I would also like more info about it.
EJjadecicada on August 23rd, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking I will.
5-6 brewings in this pic and its crystal clear and a beautiful mahogany red.
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Still dry/astringent tasting, but in a pleasant way.
This tea tastes like Autumn and raking dry crackling leaves that have sat just long enough to begin breaking down where they touch the damp forest floor.
Being carried about to various Historic encampments has, I suspect allowed it to pick up a faint woodsmoke flavor during its travels, but it is faint, and I keep getting faint distant hints of something sweet and floral, but its elusive.

I think if I were better at brewing, it would reward me more. I've heard Xiaguan is more of an 'everyday' type tea, but this seems like a pretty nice shu from my limited experience. Its quite a contrast from the 15 Private reserve Yiwu arbor brick (Puershop) that is the other Sheng on my shelf, but its a nice contrast. Both are good, but they seem to come from opposite sides of the Shupu flavor spectrum.
jimliu on August 24th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
you hit a jackpot
It seems that you hit a jackpot.

I believe the tuo IS an aged sheng tuocha. It is identical to Houde's offering.

Of course, this could be a 'fake' as well. But take a look at the soup, it is sooooooooooo pretty!

EJjadecicada on August 24th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
Re: you hit a jackpot
Would you like to play detective and review a sample? Drop me a personal message over at teachat (user ID eanglin ) and I'll add you to the sample mailing list.
gyokurosencha on August 23rd, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
I don't have a lot of experience with ripe Xiaguan tea besides the French export stuff which is extremely bland. To be honest, it's not bad ripe stuff, but then again it's not all that great either. Would be interesting to see how they age, however. My 06 ripe tuo's of Xiaguan are now falling apart the compression is so very unlike Xiaguan. I retried it for the first time in almost a year the other day, and it's gotten slightly better. The best ripe tea I've ever had that's young, however, is for sale for only $9.50 usd at nada's website. www.nadacha.co.uk (12 Gentlemen Chun Ya Shen Yun). No dui wei, clean, sweet, and very forgiving. Can't wait for this tea to age. When you compare that tea to the tuo that you're unsure of ordering more of, why not go for the cake? At the very least Nada offers cheap samples.

Should we turn this into a ripe tea discussion thread? Or should we open a new one? I don't think there's enough ripe tea discussion on the internet.
salsero_de_te on August 23rd, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
Brandon H was not able to post an anonymous comment and prefers not to sign up for LJ, but wanted to draw your attention to this HouDe web page:


Brandon is not saying that you just picked up this $145 cake for $8, as you seem to be holding a recent cooked cake, but he feels the resemblance is worth noting.
phyll_sheng on August 23rd, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
Indeed, it is worth noting the similarities. Same product line but from a different vintage?

Also, it's rather hard to discern whether the tuo is a sheng or shu (or a lightly wet-stored sheng) from the pictures above. To my eyes, it looked more like a sheng, especially in the last picture. Additionally, the tasting note does *not* have many common shu characteristics. Astringent, dry, raked leaves, woodsmoke, floral...to me these are not common in a ripe pu'er, especially when present together.

I'm just curious. I may be mistaken.
warguineapig on August 23rd, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
Also, the word Yunnansheng on the box indicates, that this is sheng, not shu.
EJjadecicada on August 24th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
I went back and bought what she had left.
Got five more boxes $25 total.

I'm willing to break one up and share it around if people want to give it a try.
I'll take pictures of the leaves tomorrow- they are very dark, but some do have greenness to them, and they do have more 'life' to them than the other cooked pu I have had.

My experience with aged Sheng is zilch. All I have ever had the opportunity to try is less than five years old, so if this is aged sheng, not shu as I had assumed, its a whole new experience for me.
jimliu on August 24th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)
'Yunnansheng' here means Yunnan Province.

phyll_sheng on August 24th, 2008 04:11 am (UTC)
The character sheng (省) in this case means "Province"...Yunnan province. The sheng that means "raw" or "uncooked" is 生. I know, it's confusing.
EJjadecicada on August 24th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
From what I can tell, the box and wrapping paper are identical, right down to the gold sticker.

I just didn't expect to find Sheng, and seeing the dark leaves assumed the 'obvious'- some cheap shu that they had found in an old chinese grocery and carted about to events for a few years.

Would scanning the box or inner ticket help with identification?

Want to try a chunk?
I'm 'eanglin' over at teachat- send me a private message with you address and I'll pry you off a chunk.
salsero_de_te on August 24th, 2008 01:51 am (UTC)
What a fabulous story! A great find and what looks like a first class way to stumble into aged sheng!
phyll_sheng on August 24th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
It's almost as good as "I found a stack of ancient tea in my grandparents' basement" kind of story, isn't it? :)
simransimbubba on August 24th, 2008 05:08 am (UTC)
I bought a number of xia guan tuos in very similar looking boxes at a ginseng/herb shop in san francisco in '04. They were a mix of sheng & shu. The shengs were way too young & undrinkable at the time. They had lot numbers printed on the bottom of the box, and the shengs had an ink stamp with the month & year (something/1999) in chinese. The shus are starting to taste rather good now, and the shengs are giving indications that they will someday be drinkable.
EJjadecicada on August 24th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
Mine have no stamps or lettering on the bottom at all.
I siuspect they came from an oriental grocery somewhere- one of the boxes even has a little rectangle of sticky residue on it where a price tag was peeled off long ago.

I'll try to get pictures of the used leaves later- I just wish I had a better camera!
EJjadecicada on August 24th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Leaf pictures
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These are the two best shots I could get.
Leaves are a dark, kahaki brown-green with a few more olive green leaves here and there. Well chopped, half leaves were the best I could find. Leaves are mostly rolled into cylinders and are reluctant to unroll.

Delicate but leathery consistency- not papery or brittle, though they are delicate and rip easily when I try to unroll them.
salsero_de_te on August 24th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
Gaiwan lid
I love that gaiwan lid ... where did you get the gaiwan?
EJjadecicada on August 24th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Gaiwan lid
It's got a black koi swimming down the other side of the lid, and a couple on the body. Cheap too.

You a Koi fancier?
salsero_de_te on August 24th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
Only when they are on porcelain! I've ordered one of my own. Thanks.
[satyriasis] - Jason: Song Hebearsbearsbears on August 25th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Leaf pictures
the pictures look like sheng. i'd put money on it. :)

Got your message on bearsblog. Email me for an address.
jackpong2jackpong2 on September 22nd, 2008 08:08 am (UTC)
Re: Leaf pictures
Hi .
By lookin at the leafs that you had shown, I think that you had hit a jackpot.Your toh cha is definitely a sheng toh.They are so called the "fakes" of Xia Guan but they do have similar qualities. Thay are from late nineties Do grab them when they are in stock especially at $8 a pc.

I can prove it as I do also have a few of them and I had bought them in the nineties.

so good luck to you
EJjadecicada on October 4th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Leaf pictures
I grabbed the few cakes the vendor had left- I need to give her a call and see if she managed to get any more.
ocpuerh on September 4th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
I would also say these are wet sheng leaves. If the color is right it is over 10 years old. I would like to taste some if you are still offering. Good find at any rate. Enjoy them.