Some people around spoke highly about '84 and '92 Xiaguan tuochas. These are not available from any vendor I usually buy from, but I found that the Canton tea company has exactly these two vintages. They did not have any samples of the '84, but they had the '92 and so I bought it.
Dry leaves first:
The first surprise - the leaves smell like teen shupu! Being afraid I've been ripped off, I cautiously steeped the tea...
The taste of the first two brews was quite shu too. I brewed Scott's Bu Lang Hui Run along (one of the best shu puerhs I've met by the way - I really like the way how Scott makes his shu - be it the cha tou or this bulang cake) to compare - similar indeed. The color of the liquor was a bit too light for shu, but then again, I don't know shu all that well.
From the second brew on, the caramel/cocoa shu taste stayed only at the beginning of the taste and gradually got shorter and shorter - being replaced by mid-aged taste of sour-ish overripe fruit and meadow flowers. The aftertaste of 2nd and 3rd brew was nice, aiming towards berries and plums. A bit of remaining sheng bitterness further suggests that this tea is not really a shu. At this stage, I seriously considered that this could be a blend of shu and sheng as the two parts of the taste (shu start and sheng end) were not really in harmony and together.
The activity of this tea on the tongue was fine in the 2nd and 3rd brew - not too strong, but long, at last.
Between the 3rd and 4th brew, the tea came to a break - the wet leaves ceased to smell shu/aged - only like a generic but allright mid-aged sheng.
The taste...not good since 4th brew on. It is not bad, not at all - it is ok. But it lasts only about a second and half. Then, a complete emptiness appears and steals all the taste. This is maybe a tea to help with "become full of emptiness" meditation. Other than that, it has no merits I am afraid. The mouthfeel is insignificant, I don't feel any deeper energy either. Like the tea was stale and bored of life.
The tea's wish to die soon is supported by its lack of stamina (honestly, I pushed it towards the terminal 7th brew only to see how far it goes, I can not speak of much enjoyment).
I was looking forward to the inspection of the leaves, expecting there would be some leaves black and some leaves green (supporting my shu/dry stored sheng mix hypothesis). Let's have a look and speak after that:
How the leaves looked after being taken out of the pot:
There are obviously two kinds of leaves - one is rather green, the other is rather dark brown (the brown being probably more common in the mix):
The first (left) one after being rubbed:
The right one after being rubbed:
Not only there are different grades of leaves, but the quality of the leaves is quite different. It is like a part was dry stored sheng and the other part was wet stored or even shu (I think that the taste was really more like shu rather than wet sheng so I'd probably say that it is rather a lightly fermented shu, not being entirely black).
And one more thing:
I found these small black-ish things among the tea leaves. I can not say for sure, but I think it might be a shu powder - it would explain the shu taste which pretty much wore away from the taste since the 3rd brew on, as well as why I havent found any typical shu leaves.
So, my uneducated guess would be a mixture of green, dry stored leaves, some wet stored or lightly fermented shu leaves and a bit of shu powder to give it more aged feeling.
It was an interesting experiment to drink this strange hybrid, but I can not say I'd find it too enjoyable. Certainly not for the $1 per gram. I can not see how anyone could think highly of this tea - it's either a fake, or the person who sold it to local people is a 80th level hypnotizer.
This tea could be probably saved from complete misery if moved to a wetter storage, but I doubt it would become much good anyway...