Saturday, March 29, 2008
2001 XiaGuan Bao Yan "Holy Flame" Brick
As some of you are aware, XiaGuan makes a number of products sold under different labels for export such as the Bao Yan "Holy Flame" label.
Interestingly, most of the Bao Yan products will be exported to Tibet where the Tibetans will make a rustic concoction call yak butter tea consisting of, you guessed it, Yak butter, young raw sheng and sugar. As you can probably suspect, products sold under the Bao Yan label are generally made from Lincang materials of low to mediocre quality as they are intended to be consumed now. This said, you can find aged examples on the market.
As you can see, the leaves are not the best of quality, although after 7 years they do appear to be aging as they are turning a nice leathery brown. The tea has virtually no smokiness which is quite a difference from the young Bao Yan bricks I have in storage.
Amount - 5.3g
Brewing Method - Gongfu
Brewing Vessel - Yixing Teapot 120ml
My first idea was to give an infusion by infusion description. However, after tasting the liquor on the first and second round I had noticed that the flavors nor did the aroma really evolve. I don't want to give you the impression that the tea was bad, too the contrary. However, what I am saying is that it did not transform.
The liquor was nice and clear with a nice aged amber tint. The aroma from the sniffing cup was pleasantly woody with burnt honey notes. As the liquor cooled, the woodiness dissipated and became somewhat floral.
The liquor did have a slightly aged taste. Again, as in the aroma, it was very woody. The liquor had a nice viscosity and a pleasant silkiness. The acidity in the liquor also was nice and kept the session active. The liquor did become a bit more astringent which of course is expected in a slightly aged sheng. You can clearly taste a slight green naivete. The later infusions became less woody which did allow a faint floral note to come through. The liquor really did have a slight huigan which was a surprise for me as I really thought it would be a dud in that department.
As you can see, the leaves are true to the claim of mediocrity. They are quite masticated. Nothing special. These torn and masticated leaves are certainly one of the reasons that Ban Yan products are compressed exceptionally hard since anything other than hard compression will virtually make the products fall apart during transit. In fact, I am comfortable in calling the leaves fannings.
The sheng was indeed palatable. The liquor was a bit dry but not boring. In fact, it did have its moments. If anything, aging Bao Yan products can certainly provide a learning experience for what time and careful aging can do to sub par pu-erh. Again, although not typically sought after collectors, you still may want to acquire Bao Yan products aging for future consumption. There is every reason to believe that Bao Yan may age well enough to become an everyday sheng that won't break your bank. I know I am! ;)