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Review: 2020 Spring Xiao Hu Sai Pu Erh Tea

While Bingdao is the most popular area in Mengku, the Xiao Hu Sai region is gaining a lot of popularity in recent years. In this post, we’re excited to review a 2020 raw Spring pu erh tea from this place.

Xiao Hu Sai Cake

The cake in question is a 200g cake from the brand Qin Ai made by the Yun Fu Xiang factory based in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan. See below the packaging.

After opening the cake, it looks medium tightly compressed.

The cake is easy to loosen, but you do need a knife. Though the tea is just a year old, we already see signs of good aging. The aroma of the dry tea is very fragrant and strong.

xiao hu sai review dry leaves

The tea is by the way available at Puerhtea.eu and Teasenz.com. If you’re interested, we recommend to order from Puerhtea.eu if you’re based in Europe, and from Teasenz.com if you’re based outside of Europe.

Xiao Hu Sai Pu Erh Tea Tasting

We’re starting the tea session by steeping 5g of tea in a Duanni Clay teapot with 150ml water at 100ºC. Though the Duanni teapot may affect flavour, it’s luckily still a fairly new one. So the flavour influence won’t be big.

1st steep (10 seconds)

The first steep tastes fairly thin in texture and has a woody and caramel-sweet aroma. The aroma is agressive and strong, and mouth-watering below the tongue. This is expected from a first steep of a 1 year old raw pu erh. What’s surprising though is that there’s no grassy taste. This would normally be expected from a young raw pu erh. We think it’s a sign that the cake is aging really well.

2nd steep (10 seconds)

The flavour is becoming more balanced in the second steep. The sweetness is also more balanced. The finish is somewhat dry, and might be due to the young age of the tea. We’ll adjust the temperature to 90ºC avoid this in the next steep.

3rd steep (15 seconds)

What’s really nice about the third steep is that the texture is becoming medium thick. It’s pleasantly smooth, and less dry due to the lower 90ºC temperature. Perhaps it’s also the lower temperature and adjusted for a longer steeping time that results in a better texture. The taste is fruity that reminds of dates, and the sweetness also like maple syrup.

4-5th steep (20 seconds)

The 4-5th steep is probably the most pleasant part of the tea session, at least for me. The caramel sweetness in the first two steeps is now transformed into a subtle honey like sweetness, with still some maple syrup and dates character that was the most present in the 3rd steep. Overall, the flavour is the most balanced, and the texture is medium thick and smooth. Applying 90ºC is was absolutely a good choice. See below a picture of the tea colour of the 5th steep.

Conclusion

The overall experience was excellent. Besides the taste, the tea makes you sweat a bit, and afterwards you feel just really relaxed. The caffeine level isn’t too high. At least, it didn’t affect me after drinking 10 steeps of this tea myself. Thus, it’s a pu erh with a low-to-medium caffeine level.

If you happen to order this tea, make sure to steep it at 90ºC. That will result in the most balanced flavour. As the tea ages, you may slowly increase the steeping temperature. 95ºC might become more appropriate once it becomes 3-4 years old.

This pu erh tea is recommend to those who like sweet, and not to grassy raw pu erh teas. This is also one of those teas that are great to drink right now as it doesn’t have strong grassy notes. And aging will allow it to improve further. Especially the dry after taste, when steeped at 100ºC should disappear by age.

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