After completely blind sampling the 2001 Xiaguan 8653 IronCake from Marco this summer I was anxiously anticipating the arrival of the cake at Teas We Like. It took many months of waiting before it appeared on the site. It seems like the wait had me eyeing this 2001 Teas We Like Iron Zhongcha ($290.00 for 310g cake or $0.94/g). This cake was released a few years ago in their second or third wave of releases. The description claims that it is not an 8653 but that it better or as good with some nice dry Malaysian storage on it… it’s a bit pricy but in the end I went for it… is it ever good…
Dry leaves smell of a faint leafy odour.
First infusion after a 30 sec rinse and 10 minute sitting… at flash has a leaf and medicinal faint onset with a faint kind of powdery almost faint peppery finish. Nice full sort of tight mouthfeeling and some throat simulating. Faint powdery finish.
Second infusion has a cherry fruity pop of sweet onset with a woody mahogany taste in a tight stimulating mouth and throat feeling. The finish is woody powdery cooling mouth then cherry woody returning sweetness. The mouthfeel is really full and strong for something this humidly stored and for this age- a nice treat. There is a bit of very faint astringency that I can feel in my guts.
3rd has a woody cherry oak cask clear taste to it. A bit tart but almost but not really dry leafy and almost powdery that comes out in the finish. Nice cool throat and some salivating- cherry powdery sweet finish... a very nice dry stored finish. Mouthfeel and taste are strong and super enjoyable but the Qi is very mild in the body and mind. Half of the cup is left to cool and it is more of a creamy sweet powdery taste. Powdery dry woody aftertaste. Very mild Qi.
4th has a woody mahogany cherry sweet taste, a touch creamy sweet, with a leafy dry woody powdery finish. There is a tart sour cherry woody finish. The taste is really condensed woody cherry powdery with under currents of faint creamy sweetness over a decent gripping mouthfeeling.
5th is left to cool and has a woody creamy sweetness that returns more sweet in the mouth creamy cherry mahogany. There is some woodiness but these cooled down cups are much sweeter and creamier with the warm cups tasting more tart and woody. Nice Qi with a slight heavy chest sensation nice mild feel good sensation.
6TH has a creamy sweet onset now with a woody cherry taste that is more distant. There is some mouth cooling with a nice saliva producing mouth effect. Nice creamy tart cherry and powdery finish with a bit of an oily mouthfeeling. It seems like the oily mouthfeeling slowly builds throughout the session. You can see the thick meniscus with bubbles endlessly suspending in the oily liquor. Super enjoyable. Nice relaxing Qi and a heavy chest sensations that is mild.
7th has a creamy sweet cherry woody initial taste that drops off a bit then becomes more powdery in the aftertaste. Nice and oily. There is a menthol camphor type of woody coolness developing now. Some creamy woody powdery sweet undertones devlop. Nice relaxing mild feeling.
8th has a woody creamy even watery taste now. There is a bit of menthol cooling camphor taste with a sweet dry leaf kind of finish. This infusion starts to water down.
9th has a sweet leafy woody not that sweet initial taste. There is some faint camphor and some p[powdery taste but this infusion shows signs of watering down so I add 10 seconds to the flash steeping…
10th has a powdery leaf taste. The cool cup has a bit of cherry powdery sweetness but faint compared to the woody leaf profile. Nice relaxing feeling.
11th has a woody leaf pile with a bit of mineral powdery finish. Still gripping mouthfeeling. I start pushing hard on this one…
12th is a 40 sec steep.. it has a sweeter woodier note but still generic sweet woody. Some faint coolness and camphor and sweet woody finish.
I mug steep out the rest…
It is a bit woody, dry leaf, and with a nutty sweetness now. Not bitter, not astringent. The nuttiness is pretty enjoyable here. Nice mellow Qi feeling.
I have had much better sessions of this one over the cold months we’ve been having. The oily texture, nice dry stored finish and delicious taste is quite satisfying!
Vs 2001 Xiaguan 8653 Iron Cake from Teas We Like. I got a few of these cakes when offered for $275.00 for 350g cake. They stopped offering them after only a few months likly due to increased prices to restock? These are very different in almost every way except that they are iron pressed cakes. The contrast is an interesting comparison. I don’t think I would have guessed the 2001 Iron Zhongcha to be the 8653 iron cake… it lacks some kind of Xiaguan quality… mainly the smoky bitterness and crotchety crankiness… it just really doesn’t feel like it at all. The 2001 Xiaguan 8653 has a much more rich, condensed, flavourful, complex, and powerful taste. The 2001 Xiaguan 8653 that Teas We Like sold is still not fully aged out so a bit harsh however achieving a nice balance between maintaining its power, concentration and essence while still moving the aging along. Still ends very bitter. This 2001 Iron Zhongcha is dry Malaysian stored, the dry storage is really quite nice on this one and is pretty aged out already with still that initial power in the first few infusions with which could still be built upon. The taste is more stable across the infusions, its stamina is less and needs harder pushing. Very nice mild mellow aged Qi in the Zhongcha. I especially like the Zhongcha’s thick viscus and oily texture. I’m not sure if I ever had such an oil slick of an aged tea before!