Xiaguan Tuos: Rough and Rugged
Xiaguan – the workin’ mans’ puer. This little chunk of coal has fueled many late afternoon meetings at the office. The compact nature of the tuo makes it ideal for chucking into a bag or stuffing into a desk, to be summoned when energy is needed. This is the first real session* I have shared with this particular tuo. Prior to today, it was mostly a way to cut through Chinese business lunch or to kickstart a drowsy afternoon.
*real sessions include real or at least feigned efforts of analysis, attentiveness, gaiwans, an air of smug knowitallism, general indulgence
Blue collar affordability makes up for the shortcomings, at just a few dollars for 100 grams of tea, it is utilitarian puer. It has plenty of strength and character; also, hot pink packaging.
The liquor is a copper color, showing a little bit of age, but the age does not show up in the cup. It is still very youthful and dirty. At times that youth shows up as an impudent lack of grace, but that is what keeps the party going. Afterall, dinner parties with mannerly guests are boring and uneventful. A little ruckus keeps the host on their toes. Think of young Xiaguan like a dinner guest who insists on fervently espousing their political views during the opening course.
After a rinse, the combination of tobacco and smoke on the gaiwan lid smells like a hotboxed dorm room, but that goes away after the first steep or two.
I had a flashback to a particular pipe tobacco a friend of mine used to smoke, called Black Kathy. ( a quick google search told me that is was a black cavendish with vanilla flavoring). This tea has transported me several times to that flavor of dark tobacco and vanilla (kind of) sweetness that lingers in the mouth.
Despite a young Xiaguan tuos inability to win a popularity contest, I enjoy them from time to time. They are inexpensive and don’t require a lot of fuss. I’ve definitely got plenty in my storage stash, which I will look forward to enjoying a decade from now, with a similarly nonchalant attitude.