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So the warm weather provides proper conditions for diving into the dragon pearls. This week I visited Bing-dao’s neglected sister Xigui. Really, I don’t know how neglected but Xigui is considerably less hyped.
I’ve run across writings that are totally contradictory regarding the taste profiles of certain terrior. It’s reasonable to suppose that the differences stem from which side of the mountain the garden lies. On the whole, whenever I think of Lincang productions a high floral quality comes to mind that I associate with neither Bing-dao nor Xigui, more like with Feng-qing and Jing-gu. Many Mengku Rongshi productions are like this. What I’ve sampled of Da Xue Shan have also had this quality, along with the Lunar Series of Six Great Tea Mts. It gets confusing. It is probably best to familiarize oneself with particular brands, because often across productions there is a signature expressed by the brand itself.
This is all a way of prefacing what I’ll express about the Xigui taste profile. Xigui is a mandarin tea. It’s not going to bop you over the head or resort to flowery gimmicks to get you to like it. Think more of a Daoist ascetic drinking the dew from the petals of lilies. As I mentioned before, 2014 was a kind of golden year for the production of dragon pearls. The value added by making pearls still made since relative the cost of labour and the prices that maocha commanded outright. In any case, many producers who were keen on the Dragon Pearl enterprise have gotten out or greatly reduced their selection and quality, which I surmise has everything to do with the cost of labour.
Once such company is Kebu Tea company. In 2014 they produced two varieties of the Xigui dragon pearl, an expensive one and a cheap one. I’ve consistently found the cheap one better. I don’t want to belabour “dew from the petals of lilies.” It works for the summer. The less bitter the better. This production has zero bitterness. For such a light taste, the ensuing astringency on the cheeks and tongue is intriguing. Reminds me of that drink Vitamin Water, light and sweet with astringency.