2005 Xiaguan 8653 FT Iron vs Non-Iron
A retaste of two samples of 2005 Xiaguan FT 8653: a cake with iron compression on the Right and one with normal compression on the Left. I got these samples in 2016 and I haven’t reread my notes from my earlier tastings…
The higher compression on the right clearly means that the tea will take longer to express itself. We can see this with the more gradual increase in colour compared to the tea with normal compression, which gives up more initially. Overall, I would say that these teas are extremely similar. By steep 4, if you had told me these are exactly the same batch of the same tea, I would have believed you.
- Left has a more sweet smell, and a redder colour. Both have an enjoyable taste, but the right tea is much lighter in flavour.
- On the left there is a very nice slippery bittersweet darker liquor. on the right, the tea has a grain like smooth taste, with a less obviously Xiaguan profile.
- Left is woody, sweet, and plenty of incense. Quite sweet aftertaste. Right is similar but much quieter, and less thick in texture. Getting quite a head rush from these teas, as usual for me with Xiaguan. Similar to the feeling after smoking a cigarette. Not my favourite aspect.
- Left is thick sweet incense. Right is much closer to left now. Equal thickness, perhaps right is thicker. Cinammon sweetness style. Left is more complex, with herbal notes.
- The teas are almost identical at this point, with good sweetness. The left is still more complex, herbal notes. Interestingly Right is thicker now.
- longer steep now: teas are very close, Left is more perfumy and more herbal. ECA is better on the right, and thickness and colour are better on the right.
These teas are extremely close to each other. The non-iron is slightly more complex, with lots of herbal notes in addition to the good sweet incense/woody notes that it shares with the iron version. The iron version is much more consistent from steep to steep, as expected, and builds more gradually. I would suspect that for someone drinking many steeps slowly, the iron version would be preferable, with less of a chance of head rush. Overall I have a preference for the non-iron version, due to its slightly more complex taste and aroma. These teas are quite close to the Xiaguan 2003 Quality Inspection cake, which I think is significantly better than both. It has the same kind of sweet warm flavour, red fruits, and plenty of perfumy incense ash, but a lot more of it. It isn’t an iron cake technically but it seems to have almost equally strong compression. I do like the taste and aroma of these teas, but the head rush aspect stops me from being more enthusiastic.