Xiaguan Tea Factory

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Recent Tasting Notes

I am writing this a day later from memory since I didn’t write anything down at the time.

Nice hint of camphor scent on the brewed leaves and gaiwan lid. Mellow flavor, earthy and grassy. Flavor stayed strong enough that I just flash steeped for the first 5-6 brews, ended on probably the 9th or 10th brew with a full minute. Astringency was a bit higher than I usually enjoy but it didn’t ruin it for me. I enjoyed the tea but it didn’t really stand out to me.

Boiling 8 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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This is a phenomenal tea for the price. The amazing thing about this tea is the “chi” more than the flavor. It is very energizing, and not just in a caffeine buzz sort of way. If you drink much puerh, you probably have had a similar experience from other tea. Top notch! Would definitely recommend.

Here are my notes (unedited) from the first session with this tea. I have since upped my “dosage” to 8g for my 90ml gaiwan.

Leaf: 6g
Brewing Vessel: 90ml Gaiwan

Rinse – 3s

1: 5s
Much earthier than the Jing Gu from yesterday. Wet leaf has a very sweet smell. Not so much the usual apricot smell… maybe more earthy. I can’t quite pinpoint it.

2: 9s
The wet leaf smells amazing… Dried peaches or something… Very bitter this steep. A lovely astringency. Not very vegetal at all. A bit of an iron-y finish. Malty mouthfeel.

3: 9s
Wet leaf getting a bit more apricot. Very astringent. Delicious malty thickness… this is a really fantastic tea.

4: 10s
Less astringent. Smoothing out a bit. I am expecting the sweetness to come out in 3-4 steeps. After pausing for a while, there definitely is a lingering sweetness in the mouthfeel.

5: 12s
A bit dusty. Thought I caught a hint of sweetness in the background of the first sip. Bitter, but less malty. Deliciously getting a bit vegetal. This is just a phenomenal tea.

6: 15s
Smooth with a light bitterness. A little harshness from the water? Leafy leafiness.

7: 20s
Life changing. Smooth and sweet. Very good. Top notch tea. Absolutely amazing.

8: 25s
Slight sweetness coming through

9: 30s
Flattening out a bit… should have increased 8s or 10s.

10: 42s
Sweet and light. Happy taste.

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

Many thanks for the review, I shall try this tea!

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A decent tea and an above average xiaguan production. After a year in my pumidor the smell is getting more complex: a nice mix of sweetness, wood, tobacco, some fruits and just enough smoke to make it interesting. The taste is similar to the nose with good sweetness, bit of kuwei and some aftertaste. Good durability without turning rough in the late long steeps (what is rare for plantation teas). Some residual astringency which should transform with further age. Not a tea which will thrill you but a good mid aged sheng with a refined xiaguan profile.

Flavors: Plums, Smoke, Sweet, Walnut, Wood

Boiling 5 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

Excellent review. Where can this tea be bought?

Norbert Varga

Thanks. Mine is from yunnan sourcing. they offer samples too, although the outcome might be a bit different than from a cake (as usual).

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2011 Xiaguan Red Star courtesy very generous Steepstarian. This one is throaty all the way. I started in on it yestiddy. It takes about five infusions or so to get beyond the grown-up taste of tobacco and bitter. Already has some organgish tinge to it.

The yun with this is v. good. Very complex tastes of crayolas, oak, dish soap, laundry powder, some bitterness. It really roaches the mouth, especially as I’ve gotten deeper into it today. First run of a minute today had me feeling flowers and that tidal rise of heat that comes with those that possess power qi. Next round, a minute and a half maybe (this might be more than the 10th infusion, I do a pretty horrible job of tracking) feels and tastes like I’ve tumble-dried my mouth with a ghaddam Downy drier sheet. I hate those things.

I remember as I drank it yesterday that beside having a power phlegm-cutting penchant that my sense of what I was drinking would go back and forth between grown-up tea and something kinda Jennifer Anniston. I don’t watch movies but I suppose she’s supposed to be the “fresh girl next door type,” not too intimidating.

The aroma is equally complex with all that Downy and dishwater, with a hint of musk. You ever had a really good oaky white wine where the taste hangs on and you’ve determined that you’d really found the right wine for the occasion? Me neither and the only occasions life affords me are these cyber rants fueled by tea inebriation. As you get into it, some of the trademark Xiaguan smoke comes through. I’m breathing deeper, and feeling a bit zonkers. My head is kinda pounding. I had enough of this for today. I’m too much of a light-weight. Red Star has kicked my arse.

Flavors: Floral, Oak wood, Smoke, Soap, Tobacco

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

I do get soapy flavor from some tea too. I always thought imagining it


I’ve definitely gotten soap like notes from some teas, and even notes that resemble the scent of #2 pencil shavings (specially from aged Xiaguan ripes).

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I picked this up from Dragon Tea House for a reasonable price thinking I’d get a nice 10 year old aged tea… but there’s barely any age to speak of. I’m wondering if they sent me a newer year by mistake or if it was just stored extremely dry or was sealed up…?? This thing is greeeeen. I started enjoying it though once I adjusted my expectations. It’s super tightly compressed which is annoying but workable. And the flavor is green but sweet, like chewing on sugar cane. It’s a little dry. Some bitterness/astringency still if brewed too hot/long. I’m not tasting any smoke or tobacco like everyone says they get from Xiaguan teas. All said, it’s an enjoyable and unique tea, if a little one-dimensional.

Flavors: Sugarcane, Vegetal


what the color of the soup? Pale yellow, bright, orangish?

Brian Dougher

I’ll have to pay more attention next time but I’m thinking pale yellow, maybe even green


2004 Xiaguan should not be pale yellow,even if it was dry stored. Also what was your parameters ?

Brian Dougher

I’ll revisit this one soon, and take better notes :)

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Deep mustiness with a touch of fruitiness on the after taste. Earthy tones covered in smokiness.


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I have found this tea to be a bit of a chameleon. I’ve had 5 sessions, or something like 50 small cups, yet when I review my notes they vary tremendously. My current session is has been very woody and smoky, but in prior sessions I have notes of fruit and in others bitterness. One theme is that I’ve enjoyed the steeps at higher temperatures, which seems to bring out the fruit without adding bitterness.

One consistent theme has been a certain amount of coarseness. This is not a delicate or smooth tea, although it does become softer after half a dozen steeps. There is quite a bit of astringency. Also, although various sessions have varied flavors, any given cup is relatively straightforward. This would be a decent everyday sheng, but I didn’t find it to be special.

Thanks to the friend who shared the tea with me.

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This is a tea I got from Angelina’s quite recently, it was fairly inexpensive but it is still kind of a young sheng. This is a very aggressive tea, smoky and bitter in the first few steeps. I found it helped to lower the water temp. to about 180 and do very short steeps with this one.

It definitely started mellowing out around steep #4 and then became more woodsy with some interesting plummy flavors, definitely sour but with a bit of sweetness too. I am picking up some tobacco notes. I would say this is fairly typical of a traditional young sheng. Sorry I don’t have time to write more about it today.

I’ve tended to like Xiaguan products in the past and this is definitely an energizing tea but it seems like it needs a few more years of aging before most people would really like it (including myself!) I know this isn’t exactly a connoisseur’s tea but since it was cheap it will be interesting to see how it ages in the my closet, lol

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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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!

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

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

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I got mine from Tao Bao and not Aliexpress. I finished 1/2 of an iron disc so far. Smooth tea and i like Xia Guan teas

Flavors: Dirt, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 10 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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drank 2003 Red Crane by Xiaguan Tea Factory
1700 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.


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


This sounds so classy!


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.

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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.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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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

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec

Thanks for the heads up :)

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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


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.

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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.

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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.

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…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.


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?


..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 :)

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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.


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


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


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

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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.



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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!


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. =)

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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.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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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!

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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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!

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 :)


Did you try it with yak butter? :)

Thomas Edward(Toad)

Goat milk butter ;)


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


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. :)


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. :)


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!


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 ;)


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.


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

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