Monday, August 6, 2012

Butterfly from 1996

1996 Xia Guan Butterfly Spring Tou Sheng is packed in lovely paper, the name and the year of origin are promising...

 Before we will take a look inside, let's read vendor's words about it:

"This tea was made in 1996 for Taiwan market. According to the supplier, leaf maretial of this tea was from 300 years old arbor tea three. Although this connot be physically proved, it is very likely to be true, as indicated by the leaf quality. The tea has been in purely dry storage over the past 15 year and demonstrates features of high quality dry-aged sheng. The flavor is significantly different from that of shengs aged in humid storage. Current price of this tea is based on supplying cost. The price is subject adjustment in the future based on rarity" 

More you can find here, on Gingo's blog

On pictures bellow you can see naked leaves.
 As usually, it is not easy to take pictures of leaves. Especially if those pictures should be reflective of  real color of aging. I did my best, so maybe you can see the mixture of dark green, brown and hairy, grey leaves- all unified by passed years. Maybe, you can also see light. white dots (like small flowers) I consider the white flowers as those here to be crystallized essential oils.

 Pressing is, compare to other Xia Tou I have, lighter. It is still Xia Guan toucha and inside you will find more compressed, not-easy-to-separate, leaves. But taking leaves from side, I did not even have to use my puehr needle and I got leaves like that...

Smell of dry leaves is gentle, just light wood and ripe fruits. These are stronger on wet leaves. First infusion (ten second) already gives dark orange tea. As you can see on picture bellow, color is (as always) very relative...

First infusion is in both cup and faircup. Fair cup is just deeper.
Second infusion...

In first infusion I can find mixture of light pine nuts, oranges and some flowers. From second brew, the Xia Guan origin is already unconcealed. There is smoke, resin, orange-peel- all mellowed thanks to  sixteen years of aging.

 Focusing on taste and mouth feel during the fourth infusion I found spicy, hot, almost pepper like, effect on my lips and tongue. It was in contrast to cooling menthol-camhor sensation in my throat. I know that this is probably not attractive for everybody. It is like Islay Whisky- peat, iodine, pepper... Why should one drink something like this? Yet, there are many Islay fans as there are many fans of traditional Xia Guan products. And I do understand them...

Another opportunity to test another stove...

I have this tea at home for more then year now and I am still happy that I decided to buy it then. I can imagine that many of you would find it to be "too dry stored". I like it as representative example of good, half-aged, dry stored tea. And it is still for rather reasonable price. When I have purchased it, it was for less then 100usd/250g toucha. Now it is 135usd, which is not cheap tea. When we talk about 16years old, rarity Xia Guan, then it is, al least, reasonable. Especially when one can go for sample first...

Why are you smilling? Is it the tea inside you or sun up in the sky? 
After my tea session I have felt calm and happy. I am not sure if it was tea itself, or also power of the fresh morning with birds flying around. Maybe all was just right.

Thank you for reading!


  1. Sound good. And a lovely stove too!

  2. Hi Jakub, If we are going to meet one day, I will be happy to share this tea with you. Glad you like the stove...

  3. Teas' color is always everything to me; good color and aroma makes for a perfect cup of tea. Thank you for sharing.