A Tea Addict's Journal

Xiaguan Baoyan FT 2006 Minicake

August 3, 2007 · 3 Comments

One of the last 2006 Tasteoff teas I haven’t tried — the 06 Xiaguan Baoyan FT minicake, from Estif. You can see a few other people’s here.

FT, or Feitai, is an interesting company. Aside from the obvious fact that they have mafia connection, FT basically specializes in custom order cakes, tuos, bricks, and that kind of thing from big factories, namely Menghai, Xiaguan, and more recently, Zhongcha. There are quite a few of them out there. The Gold and Silver dayi are among them, as well as some very recent, new cakes that I tasted in Beijing, pressed by Zhongcha, called Yunmei (Cloud Plum — actually a varietal of tea grown in Yunnan, mostly used for greens, traditionally anyway). The stuff they make, from the ones that I’ve tried, tend to fall in line with large factory taste — but better. How much better is up to individual taste. I don’t think they’re so far above and beyond regular factory stuff to deserve the high premium that some of them charge. The market disagrees, although I think that’s more because it has a collectible premium (i.e. every special order is a one of a kind cake) than anything else.

The tea in question is made under the Baoyan brand, which is, as some of you know, made largely for consumption in Tibet. Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia has really been shafted by the puerh craze. Prices of puerh of all kinds have shot up drastically, and for these people, tea is not only a luxury — it’s a necessity. In their diet there’s very little vegetables (if at all). It’s high in fat content as well. Tea therefore becomes very important as a source of vital nutrients, such as vitamin C, and also as a way to help digesting the fatty food. Prices being what they are though, the people in those regions are increasingly having to drink poorer and poorer tea. I have read stuff on Sanzui about how some farmers basically trade sheeps for tea. Imagine that… it’s that important to them.

So it is a little odd that FT would order bings being made to the Baoyan brand. It wouldn’t be particularly well known in Taiwan, where presumably this was headed, although Feitai also has a healthy presence in mainland China as well. A new store just opened a few months ago in Maliandao, for example, and the owner was giving out free cakes for people who were coming in the first day. I sadly missed it because I was out of town 🙁

The tea looks better than your usual Baoyan stuff, which is basically teabag material — fannings. This one has discernable leaves

It brews a darkish liquor, quite cloudy, and a little thick.

The taste…. well, suffice to say, this is low grade tea. It’s sour, bitter, not too aromatic. There’s not much smoke that I could taste, I suppose those notes, which were apparently prominent, are no longer around. However, it’s still a pretty unpleasant tea to drink. The one thing it does do is leave a long tail in the throat, but that’s perhaps the only redeeming feature of the tea, and even that tail only lasted a few infusions. There’s no qi to speak of, as far as I could tell, and not much of interest other than the notes I’ve listed above. It’s better warm. For one infusion I went and did something and came back to it with the tea having cooled significantly. I tried it… and wanted to spit it out. It’s quite horrific when cold.

Good endurance, however, since it lasted longer than me (I tried maybe 9-10 infusions?). Judging from other peopel’s notes, 9-10 infusions is already quite heroic.

Wet leaves is… chopped liver. Nothing too interesting to look at, honestly. Quite common factory type stuff. I do think this tea can age well given time and a suitable climate. I somehow don’t think this is tea that will do well in pure dry storage.

Categories: Old Xanga posts · Teas

3 responses so far ↓

  • PT // August 11, 2021 at 8:35 am | Reply

    I feel so sad reading about how the escalation of puerh prices have affected the poor Tibetan/Mongolian etc farmers. It must be multiple times worse now in 2021.
    I’ve been working my way through your blog from the start, trying to get guidance on how to buy young sheng, and this post has really made me stop to re-evaluate where I’m going with my newly-accquired puerh addiction. Do I really need to have bought 50kg of tea when I’m already 50 years old? Why am I even contemplating buying anything more when I should just concentrate on finishing up what I’ve acquired?! I just took 10 cakes off my Yunnan Sourcing wishlist and hopefully, I can whittle it down further. Thank you for helping drag my head out of the tea fumes.

    • MarshalN // August 12, 2021 at 1:09 pm | Reply

      Don’t take this the wrong way, but if you’re already 50…. don’t buy young teas if you don’t already like to drink them. If you enjoy them as they are, whatever works. If you buy them hoping to age them… probably better to buy less new/young teas and spend the money on some older ones.

      • PT // August 22, 2021 at 2:01 am | Reply

        No offence taken. In fact, that’s exactly the opinion I was seeking. I’ve bought primarily shou pu cos it’s just easier on my tummy and in the later steeps, the sweetness of the good ones seemed (to my untrained palate) similar to the later steeps of the few aged shengs I’ve bought. Given the 10 or so raw cakes I bought cost between USD70 to USD375 (YCH 2005 Yiwu Chawang) each and I’ve yet to be bowled over, I’ve now completely emptied out my online wishlists and am just waiting until travel restrictions are lifted so I can try the visit-the-teashop approach to tea buying.
        Your blog has helped firm up the idea that it’s really about:
        1) Buying what one personally enjoys drinking and the shopping experience could be part of the enjoyment;
        2) That one shouldn’t try to think others’ online descriptions (eg “Strong but kind & caring male tea which is stable through many infusions”!!!) can be comprehended by one’s own tongue;
        3) Too many variables to know for sure as a novice how to buy a great tea online (eg overblown descriptions, fake teas, water, pouring/steeping techniques, teaware etc).
        At my age, I should just drink the tea I’ve already bought, tuition ones too, and go make some knowledgeable tea friends to share the passion with and learn from.
        Thank you Lawrence. I’ve only worked my way up to your 2008 entries, you might have saved me thousands!

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