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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Xiaguany River, 2011 Grey Crane

Today is one of those golden autumn days, with the last of the silver maple leaves falling into the sunny window of my house. While the local kids go trick-or-treat-ing, I will treat myself to a bit of Xiaguan. This 2011 Grey Crane sample is from Virginia storage master mrmopar, sent to me several years ago. Over the past year the sample has served as a test for potter Inge Nielsen's new clay jar and the tea very much likes this new home, judging from the fragrance when I lift the lid. My old teapot Chip cried neglect as I perused which pot to pour, so he gets a day in the October sunshine. I notice his repairs are holding up.

My Halloween treat, 2011 Xiaguan Grey Crane
A few years ago I obsessed a little over buying a 2011 Grey Crane cake, originally not a very expensive production, and so mrmopar generously offered to send me a sample to help with the decision of whether to buy the tea. At the same time, I obsessed over 2011 Taetea Century Shou, and I got a sample of that tea in the package, such a large sample I did not feel the need to buy the tea. I ended up passing on the Grey Crane as well. As always, mrmopar quietly stores his tea in an excellent manner. When he decides to sell tea someday, I feel certain all his teas will have had a nice start.

Second steep after the rinse.
Xiaguan special productions are always worth a look, because they start out in the budget price range for the most part and appreciate in value over the years. They also tend to taste less harsh at the outset compared to tuos. The 2011 Grey Crane is an iron pressing, but like most Xiaguan iron pressings, the cake is thin enough that I can find a spot to break on my sample. I think of white2tea's Prolaxicorvatin and wonder if I should buy one just for the storage experience, because my other iron pressings preserve quite well.

First steeping on the boil and I am punished with full-on bitter, but the color of the tea is starting to brown a little which tempers the bitterness going forward. The tea is surprisingly thick already, at only seven years old. My pot Chip tempers the brew somewhat, and I enjoy spicy red clover honey notes amidst the Xiaguany house flavor, and that heavy vapor coming up from the stomach that we look for, and it lingers as I type along. Some very nice huigan, but the money steeps are 5-7 and the tea starts fading after that. I find a very old sheng leaf in my sample, brown and twisted. I almost think it shou, but no, it's just a very old leaf. Maybe that's the surprise in the Grey Crane.

Some brown developing, the old twisted leaf on the far left.
I am not tempted to trace down a cake of this, but anyone owning the tea already surely is pleased with it. Down the road I can imagine a bit of trading for it among collectors who own a tong. Drinkers can expect a mellow, sweet drink already with just a few more years of storage.


1 comment:

  1. Glad to see it is still agreeable. I may have to dig around and find this one. I am wondering how mine gas changed or aged. Thanks for the mention! Still working hard on keeping it right in the pumidors.

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