Xiaguan Tea Factory

Recent Tasting Notes

85

Often purchasing a quality pu’erh is on par with ‘falling down the rabbit hole’ (#Alice in Wonderland).
Fortunately Tibetan Flame is a well-known product from the Xia Guan Factory in Yunnan. This brand was specially developed in 1941 for export to Tibet. The logotype displays the most important colours for Buddhists, as well as the meaningful symbols and images. This tea brick is of high quality.
As soon as we broke open the package, we were transported. Back to the Himalayas. We breathed in the earthiness of the trail and noted the dried yak dung lingering in the air; then came the musty aroma of the donkeys and yaks sweaty from the challenging climbs; and then we entered the hillside community, tea houses billowing smoke from their stone chimneys mingling with tobacco and dry hay notes; finally we sat and enjoyed a sweet lemon tea, the fragrance swirling around and mixing with the uniqueness of this environment.
The taste of the tea did not disappoint either. Brewed for under a minute, the first infusion was medium intensity, without bitterness. The flavour profile was earth and sweet nuts, with a subtle citrus note. The after-taste is a lingering sweetness. After a few infusions, the addition of an apricot note was a pleasant surprise.
The Tibetan Flame bricks have earned a good reputation amongst tea drinkers who are seeking a pu’erh that’s affordable, strong and ages quickly. Give it a go!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
Revoluzzion

Purchased from Ya-Ya Teahouse in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank 2003 Red Crane by Xiaguan Tea Factory
1314 tasting notes

This is the oldest sheng I have ever tasted. It held many surprises. The leaf is loose and looks like crumbled autumn leaves. It is mostly dark brown with some green and even fewer gold streaks. The dry leaf has traces of light smoke. I have read this in reviews before but it is the first time I have been able to detect it in a sheng.

My first steep was 30s with boiling water. It produced a golden amber liquor. I had imagined given its age it would be darker. The wet leaf has an aroma of smoky moss.

The taste has only hints of smoke and is probably more smell than taste. This is brighter than I expected. It is not metallic over bright like a young raw puerh. It is a mellow brightness if that makes sense. There is no bitterness. It is slightly drying. I have trouble coming up with descriptors for sheng. I can better tell you what it is not. It is not harsh, brassy, coppery, fishy, pond, barnyard, or any of the nasties. I guess woodsy best describes it. Later cups develop a sticky lip feel as it becomes more creamy and slightly mushroom. It holds on to the hints of smoke.

This was definitely my best sheng experience to date.

Stephanie

I’ve never tried an older sheng! Very intriguing!!!

gmathis

This sounds so classy!

mrmopar

Yeah the older stuff can be very intriguing. I have been on a 98 sheng 5 days now and still going. It amazes me how it retains the strength and flavor profiles.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

90

Finally a pu-erh I can understand. Prepared gongfu, in my Yixing serving my in-laws, teaching them about Chinese tea ceremony and the the different types of teas. Not the most captive audience, they need to get to Brooklyn with the NYC Marathon going on, so I understand. The standard brewing guidelines 2 quick rinses and short steeps.

The aroma is very floral, hints of jasmine, per mother-in-law, and the malty sweetness you come to enjoy when sniffing wet pu-erhs. The flavor is so well structured and smooth I had that aha moment of realization that I was having for the first time a well made and aged raw pu-erh. Yum, the flavor was smoky, malty with stone fruit undertones. The mouth-feel, enveloping and inviting, I couldn’t wait for the next sip. Steeps went out for about 10, could have been more, but I used a larger Yixing to accommodate the 4 of us.

The conundrum this tea has caused, is now I am going to have to buy more high quality raw pu-erhs to get to any even higher level. Whoa is me. As for the in-laws I think they enjoyed it, they were no longer thinking of their travel details and were focused on the soft gentleness the tea had to offer.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

79

2012 Xiaguan Te Ji Raw Pu-Erh Special grade tightly compressed tuocha is very drinkable for a young sheng puerh.
Astringency(терпкость) – a little
Smoke – medium
Dryness-(mouth) – none
Aftertaste – notes of leather and chewing tobacco
Flavour – medium, even taste, a bit sweet.
Overall value – very nice affordable everyday Pu Erh
Purchase again – From time to time

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Bought from Ebay store ‘Pot in Pot’ run by seller badtzmaru1216 item number 300358197995. Paid $6.99 for 100g {that’s 3.5oz} on Sept. 15, 2012 and it arrived Oct 12 {they actually shipped on Sep 18} total of 25 days transit time directly from China. Probably be a long time before I actually taste this, as it’s going into my stash to age a bit.

I encourage anyone wanting the puerhs and other ‘exotic’ chinese teas to buy directly from China. It’s more about patience than price. If you have the time, you can get great tea for a fraction of what some uber-upscale tea vendor in the US will charge. Although, the US vendor will change the name slightly, and put the tea in awesome packaging, you WILL DEFINITLY pay more per ounce, and not know where it came from or much about it. Besides, buying it directly, and having a parcel show up from a foreign country will impress the post man and you’ll develope a reputation as a tea snob ever so much faster LOL! :D

K S

For a while we were getting so many packages from foriegn countries that the carrier was beginning to act a little nervous. My wife finally decided to tell her what was in the boxes.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

This makes a very pleasant summer cold steep in the fridge. Hadn’t tried it as one yet. Dark, sweet, and earthy. A good sleepy-afternoon perk-up.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Good morning. May your year be full of hope.

As I am blessed with the first unscheduled day in I don’t know how long, I thought a multi-steeper might be a good choice. I’m still highly inexpert at petrified clumpy tea, but I think I’m finally on the downside of the learning curve with this one. After a quick rinse and a short steep, it is mellow with little or no metallic/mineral undercurrents.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

…so I let the leaves dry overnight and did one more 2-minute-ish steep (the third one) this morning. Strange things happening…

First, this is getting darker with every steep. It’s almost ebony in color instead of letting up.

Second, I’m sitting peacefully in my happy chair enjoying a quiet house with the heater not running for a change and I hear this funny ringing sound coming from the end table. Specifically, from my tea mug. Warily, I pick it up. Yep, my cup is fizzing. High pitched snap, crackle, pop. Does pu-erh do that?

OK, even if it’s wrong, who doesn’t want to taste-test magical-colored ebony fizzing tea? Maybe it was the “bubbly” notion influencing my taste buds, but … yep … cola flavor.

This wins my prize for most humorously bizarre tea tasting experience. Honorable mention, anyway.

JC

Darker for overnight left over puerh is not unusual(unless you made some many steeps that there not much left in the tea anymore). When you leave it over night it was ‘steeping’ in the humidity that was left, so even if it dried up there’s a ‘concentrated’ steep waiting there. Don’t know about the sound… maybe just re-hydration of the tea?

gmathis

..which makes absolute sense. It was still pretty tasty! As for tea that talks, to confirm I hadn’t completely lost it, I stuck it in my husband’s ear. He heard it too :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

You experts would snicker at the clumsy and inelegant way I handle this tuocha; impatient with all the shaving and chipping it takes, today I just broke the confounded thing into manageable clumps and put them in my trusty Mason jar.

But the nice thing about this is it takes “clumsy and inelegant” without batting an elephant eyelash. Prime steeping time appears to be right at the 2 minute mark; results in a lovely, almost syrupy, medium-dark cuppa sweetness.

JC

Make sure you don’t put a lid on the Mason Jar!(If it is for storage). Put a cloth with a rubber band on it, so it can breathe and ‘age’. Unless you are planning to drink it all in less than a year :P

gmathis

Gotcha. Appreciate the tip; tuochas are Advanced Level and I’m stalled out at Intermediate.

JC

Hey, it’s all about learning! No matter how much you learn, there’s always something you still need to learn.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

The fact that I giggle at the tea lump and think of elephant dung every time I open the packet probably means I’m not mature enough to drink this!

Shaved off what I thought looked like 3 cups’ worth this morning and gave it a cautious 2 1/2 minute steep. It does not taste the spare part of an elephant. Sweet and a little earthy. Pretty pleasant. I’ll give it two trunks up.

Nik

[chuckle]

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

So this one little unloved and unwanted tuocha was sitting on the shelves at Fox Farm this week … locally, you can probably count the people who know what to do with it on one hand. So at a whopping $2.39 clearance price, what was I to do but adopt it?

I’m making jokes about people who don’t know what to do with tuocha, but in truth, I am one. I’ve just graduated from total ignorance to knowing what it is. And I still grin at the prospect of chipping petrified leaves off something that looks unfortunately like an elephant dropping. (Sorry! I’ll try to be classier from here on.)

So, I very gingerly whacked off about a teaspoonful of leaf this morning, did a quickie rinse once the water had boiled, and did my first steep at 30 seconds. Too weak for me.

At a minute, it was a nice caramel color, a little minerally and a a little sweet. A really different personality for somebody who is dependent on stout Irish Breakfast to wake up in the morning, but still pretty nice.

I’m on the second steep, this time 1:30 and it’s darkened in color. Mineral taste has largely washed out and I’m getting a good, rye-bready vibe. The rest of the pot is going into the fridge for an afternoon treat.

Bumbling preparation aside, this has been an interesting and inexpensive little educational junket!

Ninavampi

I just had to mention that I loved this review! :)

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Ditto. Thanks for saving that poor little tuocha and giving it a good home. =)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

70

Had this offering from the Xiaguan factory tonight. It is stated to be from the Jingmai mountain region. This is a very tightly compressed toucha with lots of green on the surface. Aroma is almost a metallic odor when pried off the toucha. Used the yixing reserved for sheng only to brew with. This tea is very light in terms of taste and aroma in the first brewing. I plan to do another tasting on this one tomorrow as young sheng tends to keep me awake if I drink it late at night. Not an overall bad cake maybe in a few years it will deepen in the flavor and aroma department. It still has the “bold” in your face bite of a young tea for now.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

87

Finally got around to trying this one once again – 1 year later. Wow, is all that I can say. There seems to certainly be a good amount of aging that has taken place and the color of the brew is browner. Very tasty and smooth. Now that I have a better idea of the right amount (it gets very strong, quickly if you put too much in the gaiwan), I’m seeing why this is a favorite one of many to keep around. It definitely seems to mature into a very delightful cup of tea!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

87

For the full review and pictures, see: www.southern-sips.blogspot.com

There was plenty for me to learn concerning this tea, most importantly of it potency. This was my first Xiaguan tea, and I guess they are known for their strength. No words could describe or indicate the pungency and bitterness from this tea. I prepared it with the same amount of leaves as my other puerhs and oolongs – enough to cover most of the bottom of the gaiwan. This I found out was not such a great idea! My mouth was insulted with its bitterness and my stomach began to speak to me as well, because of this dreadful brew. After trying several infusions, there was no found “mellowed/sweet tea”, again promised by the retailer. This almost discouraged me altogether pursuing this tea at this time, maybe more time is needed to allow this sheng to age.

I must say that the owner of the online shop, was most helpful and willing to guide me to this tea’s sweetness and mellowed taste. It only took me a couple more settings with this tea to finally get what was desired. The trick all came down to lessening the amount of tea used. It really only took about 1/4 the leaves of what I normally use and shortening my steep to 5 seconds instead of 15, to bring out the best from this Tibetan brick. There really is a sweetness and very nice savoriness to this tea, once all the right conditions are met. I’m glad that I now do not have to wait a few more years to try this one again – it will certainly not last that long now!

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
Charles Thomas Draper

I’m drinking a Xiguan as I’m reading this and loving it. Why do I always smell the gum that came with baseball cards with most Sheng? Weird

Thomas Edward(Toad)

I have one similar to this,Very Nice :)

TeaBrat

Did you try it with yak butter? :)

Thomas Edward(Toad)

Goat milk butter ;)

K S

I am impressed you sought out what you were doing wrong rather than just saying this is nasty and moving on.

Pureleaf

Amy oh & Tommy the Toad – You guys need to share the info behind this yak vs goat milk! What am I missing here? lol

KS – that’s the only way. Some teas demand more attempts and time to master developing the best taste from its leaves.

Charles Thomas Draper – that’s a great observation! I think you may be right and I have know idea. Now you got me anxious to taste some more and search for this taste. :)

Pureleaf

I have no idea why I typed “know” instead of “no”. lol

Thomas Edward(Toad)

lol, I make Butter tea with this type of tea sometimes, I was just replying to Amy Oh that I use Goat Milk Butter cuz We don’t have any Yaks on our “farm” lol I think I got a post about Butter Tea here on Steepster somewhere. :)

mrmopar

like ks said great job on further exploration till you found the comfort zone. tommy gave me a butter tea recipie that i can’t wait to try!

ashmanra

In Tibet, they add salt and yak butter to their puerh! I understand the salt helps replace minerals lost sweating as they climb about the Himalayas, and the butter provides much needed calories and fat to keep warm in the brutal environment.

Thomas Edward(Toad)

Yep, In Tibet they have to do it that way, thats exactly what I read about on the internet, thats how I ended up stumbling upon Butter Tea recipe lol I’m sure ours tastes way different from real Tibetan tea but I try :) I guess I could have explained what it was was, Thanks Ashmanra! Sorry Pureleaf didn’t mean to jack your thread ;)

Bonnie

I have a butter recipe and tried it before and like it very much. Nice on a wintry day with snow outside. Comforting like a broth. I was talking to a friend in California, an older woman almost 70 who went to Mongolia this year and drank a bowl of yak butter tea. She was offered another bowl but said the bowls were so big, she couldn’t drink two. I think she had guts! She spends all her time helping the poor, visiting the sick, doing without frills in her own life for the good of others.

meliorate

This sounds fascinating… Inspires me to try butter tea myself!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

71

No notes yet. Add one?

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

67

This is a higher grade of tuo, but the price is not too much steeper. I really like these, their packaging is sooo cute!! If you buy any much older than 2007, the price goes up a lot though :(

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

77

Thought I’d update this tasting log. For the last few weeks I’ve been doing all of my brewing in a gaiwan instead of a yixing. After drink a couple of steeps I reviewed my previous tasting note from about a year ago. This tea really seems to be aging, the color of the dry leaves have changed from a green hue to a very shu like brown appearance. As I mentioned before, the leave material is heavily processed meaning that the brick is made up of material in tiny pieces almost like it was run through a mulching lawn mower , but it still brews a very clean orange cup ut will gather a bit of sedimentation in the bottom of the cup. One thing that I noted this time that I did not mention before is the smokey aroma of the wet leaves. The astringency is all but gone and the tea is now much smoother than what I recall and has lost a lot of the young sheng characteristics. Not sure but I’m guessing the mellowing has to do with the size of the material in the brick. Also the leaves seem to give up after just 4 or 5 infusions but those first five are very enjoyable, a smooth feeling hat envelops the mouth, with apricot present and some flavors of a tippy black tea. I’m finishing with my sixth infusion now doing a very long 2+ minute steep to see if I can get just one last cup out of it. Nope.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

77

Enjoying this tea for the second time. The first thing about this cake is that the brick itself and the leaves have a very Japanese tea appearance as far as size and texture but of course the color of the leaves and the compression is distinctly puerh. Being a sheng pu this tea brews up in a crystal clear orange color that reminds me of a maple tree changing colors in the fall… interestingly, the liquor matches almost exactly the shirt I have on today. Flavor wise it has a lot in common with a Royal Phoenix Stone Oolong that I am familiar with but obviously with a puerh twist. Heavy tones of fruit, specifically citrus, almost pithy in the first infusions. Also keeping with the younger sheng characteritics there is a fair amount of astringency. Deeper down upon aerating the liquor in the mouth there are definite fungal tones, mushroons. As always I am amazed at the variety of flavors that can be attained over different varieties, growing locations, processing and even different infusions of the same tea during the same session. This tea is one of the ones that calms me down, and makes me contemplative. It’s not a “wowsa” kind of cup but it is definitely something I look forward to drinking for years into the future. In fact I can see ordering more in the future.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

80

Wet leaves are showing heavy aromas of smoke and tobacco and that transfers to the tea itself. Still slightly bitter but really heavy on smoke and tobacco. I find it, ultimately, a onedimensional tea without much complexity. It has a stong ‘huigan’ but accompanied with dryness in your mouth.
After 8 infusions the flavour profile doesn’t change at all and starts to become slightly boring.
I cannot see myself drinking this tea regularly cause of its signature Xiaguan smoke and simpleness. I like my teas lively and complex even if they are more bitter. I tasted the ’09 version of this tea and liked it a bit more, go figure!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

70

The rainy weather today put me in the mood for a bit of puerh. However, my mom did a bit of tidying up, so it took a while to locate this. After describing what it was, she brought me a plastic food container sealed with brown packaging tape with a label written in black marker: “Tea Block”.

My prying off skills are next to nonexistent, so I ended up with a fair amount of tea dust. Popped it in my teeny 50ml yixing. The dark orange tea soup tasted a bit woody, with this minty thing going on, and somewhat sweet. No smokiness that I can determine. To my untrained palate, this was pretty likeable, and with the price (less than $5 for 250g) I don’t have to worry about knocking it about with my bad brewing. However for some reason after I drink this my stomach acts up, so maybe it needs to be set aside for a little more time for me to be able to handle it. :( Pity, I really liked how it tastes now.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
Cofftea

Is this a sheng or shu? I completely “lol-ed” at the yack butter thing.:) I know what you mean about no prying off skills- that’s why I love my sheng knife!

__Morgana__

I love that your mom wrote “tea block” on it. That’s priceless.

pimli

@Cofftea: It’s a sheng. Thankfully. I really like how it smells, very “green” and refreshing! I’m still traumatized by last month’s fishpond shu. x_x I have a cute little pu-erh dagger, too, but it seems pretty useless. Should probably invest in a decent pick. Or sledgehammer. Heaven help me, I own a couple of Xia Guan tuos.

@__Morgana__: Yup, I love her. And at least I know how to find it next time. “Mooom, did you see my brick of sheng puerh? The Tibetan yak butter one?” “What?” “You know, my, uh… tea block?” "Oh, that. It’s over here, honey.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

88

Very drinkable for a young sheng. Leaves have a pronounced barn smell which transforms into forest scents after brewing. Astringency is very high which is to be expected from a young tuo but it isn’t off putting. Liquor is colored green with a slight trace of orange.
I steeped this one with water slightly below boiling point as the young sheng would be destroyed with boiling water

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Grace

I know your note is old, but I just wanted to say I thought this was smooth too! :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.