Producer: Xiaguan Factory
Area: Blended tea material from Lincang, Baoshan, Dehong, Banna and other prefectures.
Weight: 1 tuocha 84 +/- grams
This tea is the classic 甲级 Jia Ji (first grade) Tuocha made by Xiaguan under the management of CNNP.
I was lucky enough to have a reliable source from the factory to get this old tea.
What makes this Tuocha different from others Jia Ji Tuochas out there?
Firstly, its age, most Jia Ji Tuos from Xiaguan sold are from early 2000.
Secondly, to prevent counterfeiting, this Jia Ji Tuo is the first to have the Chinese character “甲” pressed on it at that time. This 甲 character was used from 1989 until 1994. Then after 1995, they start pressing the “G” logo on the Jia Ji Tuo.
To the best of my knowledge, there are not fakes with the 甲 character. This tea is an authentic old Xiaguan product guaranteed.
Thirdly, appropriate storage conditions for the tea to transform (tuos are tightly compressed). It spent some years of its life in Hong Kong traditional storage (underground storage), then move to drier storage on the ground floor or upper floors in a drier environment. Then it has been brought to Kunming. Consequently, thanks to this storage alternation, it has reached a good equilibrium between wet and dry, where the tea can be drunk without the high astringency, bitterness and smoky flavour that it has when it’s young. On the other hand, since its arrival to Kunming, it has lost most of the humid storage aroma/flavour resulting in a mellow tea that is way more drinkable than when young.
At the time of writing, I brewed this tea in a 90 ml gaiwan/ 6.94 grams of tea.
The dry leaves in the preheated gaiwan have an earthy aroma.
The wet leaves still have some humid storage aroma in the gaiwan, but not overpowering like some wetter stored teas, since the tea has been air out in Hong Kong and then in Kunming for many years.
I can also feel that sugarcane sweetness aroma, like the one that our Chatou from Lincang has.
I did 25 infusions with the above brewing parameters. Yes, 25th without exaggeration! But just up to the 23rd tastes decent. The 24th and 25th were closer to sweet water flavour (I wanted to push it to its limit to see how many brews it could give).
Good old-tea can give way more infusions than modern factory tea productions. The tea quality material is not the same as that of the present time due to various factors.
The tea has transformed considerably. Now has a very low astringency compared to young Pu. It has Lost the sharp bitterness and classic smokiness of many Xiaguan teas. It has a viscous tea-soup and a sweet liquorice-like huigan from the first to the last infusion with plenty of salivation at the sides of the tongue.
The tea has some fruity notes combined with some darker ones given by its age and storage conditions. I didn’t feel any bitterness in this session despite brewing it for a longer time than I usually do in each infusion.
But I remember feeling some bitterness in initial infusions more than a year ago when I brewed it in a teapot. This chunk I brewed was the last piece of the same Tuocha (brewed more than a year ago). So I think that little bitterness left in the tea is gone.
In the 5-6th infusion, I started feeling the energy of this tea. It is very warming, soothing, and comfortable in the body. Like it should be in a good quality old tea.
Brewing tip! Even though the tea compression has loosened-up, it stills needs many steeps for the tea leaves to open up completely. If you look at the tea liquor pictures above, even infusion number 20 is darker than the 14th. This will depend on the chunk you get. In particular, the centre of the Tuocha is really compressed. At the time of writing this description, I used the dimple of the Tuocha.
You could do longer time rinses, 1-2 to help the tea leaves open more If you receive tightly compressed chunks. Otherwise, it’s not necessary to do long rinses. Most importantly, I advise you to enjoy the tea session and be patient for the leaves to open fully.
Note: I include a picture with sunlight where the pressed 甲 it’s seen clearly. In the rest of the pictures, the 甲 character is not so clear. And you have to rotate them to see it in the upward position.
I added some new pictures of the tea leaves and you can notice a difference in colour between picture 5 and pictures 6,7 and 8. I explained why in our blog: https://yunnanteamarket.com/1989-xiaguan-jia-ji-tuocha-raw-puer-tea/