Review of Xi Gui Ancient Tree Raw Pu-erh Cake 2013

8 of 105 of 53 of 580 of 100

Hello, concord grape! The dry leaf of this tea smells initially like a sweet, tippy spring green tea, but this is followed by an intense fruitiness strongly suggestive of concord grape. Tea often smells like grape to me, but more often it is the muscatel grape of Darjeeling or Bai Hao oolong, or the deep raisin notes of some Assam, or the wine-like tones of Keemun. TeaVivre's Fengqing Wild Tree Yesheng Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake 2013 also resembled concords to me, but not so much as this one...I can't get over how intense and direct the similarity is.

Upon brewing, produces a surprisingly mellow cup...this is the most mellow Pu-erh I've tried that has not been aged appreciably. It tastes as smooth as some stuff that is 5-ish years old. Body and flavor is oolong-like...the aroma not so much.

The concord grape quality is less present upon brewing, but it emerges here and there. I found it persisted even through later steepings, often emerging as a surprise note in the finish. The aroma is a bit mushroomy (in a good way, almost like shiitake or black mushrooms), and there's a toastiness like a more typical Chinese pan-fired green tea.

Enjoyable and easy drinking. Does not resteep as well as I'd expect though. Using TeaVivre's brewing recommendation, with a long first steep (6-10 min) I found most of the flavor was lost after two cups...that left me unsatisfied. I found I actually prefered a much shorter initial steep. Although the tea comes out weaker, it is still flavorful, aromatic, and pleasant to drink, and this leaves more to easily make 3 or more steeps.

I didn't try gong fu brewing, but I bet this tea would work well with it.

More so than any other unaged raw Pu-erh that I've tried, this cake tastes like it has been significantly aged. If I had to guess its age, sampling it blind, I would probably guess 5-7 years, but it tastes as smooth as some older teas. It also has some of those pleasant earthy and mushroomy tones that I normally only encounter in aged teas.

This tea is not cheap, $100 for a 357g cake. Given how great it tastes as-is, I think it might be worth the price, except for how its flavor gave out too quickly on resteeping. I also strongly preferred TeaVivre's Fengqing Wild Tree Yesheng Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake 2013. That cake is cheaper, and I liked it also resteeped MUCH better.

I do recommend sampling it though...the concord grape fragrance of the dry leaf is remarkable and I think that alone makes it worth trying!

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