2007 Xiaguan Golden Ribbon toucha 100g from Naturally Fine Tea at Aliexpress.
Price: £7.77 ($11.84) 100g. £0.08 ($0.12) /gram.
Summary: Drinkable, but very poor tea.
Dry: It has a golden ribbon on it, held by 3-4 leaves. Faint straw aroma. Compression is not rock hard as one comes to expect from a Xiaguan tuocha. I have previously had the 2008 Dream of Red from Yunnan Sourcing and 2012 Jingmai from Dragon Tea House. Instead, the compression is very light. It is easy to break into and the toucha appears quite brittle. I broke off a chunk to drink and lots of other pieces came off too. Unusual for a Xiaguan toucha with my experience of them.
Wet: Interesting. Warm horse, becoming leathery. Quite prickly; smoke is dark. There is an aged aroma that I was not expecting from a tea of 2007: old books with dark fruit behind. No birdcage aroma here however.
Rinse twice, as per usual. The colour of the liquor is light gold and very clear.Rest for 40 minutes. I don’t usually, but I want to give this tea a good start.
5s – Med golden brown? This is no young sheng. It does not have the bitterness of the 2008 Dream in Red. It is completely worn out. This tastes like aged raw pu-erh or wet stored pu-erh. It has some smoke, but not the usual Xiaguan house style of smoke.
10s – Med golden brown? It has a bit of warm horse, leather taste. Very mild, worn out; slightly smoky after taste. I think there is something odd here…
15s – Less dark medium golden brown. It has notes of stewed tea, and it leaves a mild ages taste of old books. I’m very disappointed with this tea.
25s – Light brown. I’m sweating, but I do have my coat on.
This tea arrived after only 10 days. A nice green and yellow box. I had been looking forward to this one. Slightly ruffled looking, but that must be it’s due to its age. I notice the lid is not a tight fit like the 2008 Dream of Red or the 2012 Jingmai, but that must be a loose box. There is no date on the wrapper, but that could be normal. It tastes nothing like my previous Xiaguan tuochas, but it is a different tea. Compression is very light and not the rock-hard compression I’m used to, but this is a different tea. Overall, the flavour was not there, but that could be bad storage. I had a look at the leaves after the session and found a couple of black, hard, rubbery leaves that looked like cooked pu-erh. I don’t know how to explain that one.