Saturday, November 22, 2014

90s XG Tuo And The Triangle Theory of Shengpu Premiums

In my younger days, Hugo my indomitable father would try to impress upon me various life lessons with a diagram only an ex-military economist could draw.  Foremost was Hugo's triangle theory of life where one's life was principally composed of
  • intellectual side- including work life
  • emotional side- love, friendship, family life, home life
  • muscle side
You had to secure at least two sides out of three before your life got wobbly and fell over.  Hugo has squeezed my unsuspecting husband's biceps and chided my man for neglecting his muscle side.   There was a time when all three sides of my life were teetering and my life did predictably fall to utter chaos.  The triangle pattern runs deep in my psyche for all sorts of things so I present to you the triangle theory of sheng purchase premiums.

When I buy tea, my analytical mind automatically tries to deconstruct the tea price roughly into three areas:
  • leaf quality
  • aging/storage
  • processing - including brand premium and I'm going to sloppily include the vendor premium here so I don't have to go quadrangle and mess up the analogy.
In the last few months, I've been mostly paying out an aging premium over so so leaf made by so so factories because that's what is basically available within my price points.  This morning after trying the 90s XG tuo,  I realize I need to break out of this rut as I've probably gotten enough of such ho-hum aged teas.

Yesterday I was pathologically compelled to almost buy a suspicious 90s XG tuo on ebay even though I have pounds of decade old high-end XG I wont' drink.  Then I remembered I already had a sample in my ebay kit so I brewed the tuo sample up this morning.  This 90s tea tastes like it could be even as young as ~2003 and whether or not it's really XG is moot. Even after a decade, this tuo reproduces with high fidelity the XG signature astringency but it's probably not that hard to replicate the northern plantation summer leaf taste.

What I've always appreciated about run on the mill XG tuos is that they are no nonsense teas not aspiring for imperial tribute designation or rare old tree cachet. Plantation blend and proud of it.  At their best, the sand paper roughness and astringency can give way to leave only the trademark XG smoke and leather which is unabashedly masculine.  XG tuos are a taciturn northerner and it seems wrong to talk too much about it.   But I'm glad I didn't clutter up my collection with yet more tea I won't drink.


  1. The triangle is ringing a bell, is it economist origin, the triangle about cheap/good/fast? Where a person can have two, but never all cheap/good kitchen renovation but it won't be fast, fast/cheap but it won't be good, good/fast won't be cheap. That could kind of work for tea if we sub "aging" for fast? Therefore can we have cheap/ good tea but it won't be aged (drink-now cakes), aged/cheap won't be good (tasting), and good/aged won't be cheap...

  2. dear Cwyn,

    Since you are a fan of white2tea, you can answer that question better than me. I thought the White Whale hit some sweet spot of the three.


    1. I have 2 bricks of the WW but haven't got round to tasting them yet. Think the base might be part Bulang or some such which is why it appeals to those other guys. Am a bit worried it might be rough for your stomach, I hope not. The best cheap tea they have for aging/good is the HK Raw, but it is wetter storage and needs a couple months to air. My choices from W2T tend to be the not-cheaps...personally I think good/aged tea is not cheap, in general. I am liking Liu Bao a bit better than shu these days, it is a bit twiggy though.

  3. I would fear the shicang over the Bulang roughness. The storage smell on that lil whale is a knocker. I just received it but it requires some serious airing out before It touch it.