Right ho, the last of post-2008 Xi Zi Hao from the last batch of samples.
I remove a chunk from a "tea circle" (the tea is pressed into a bamboo tube, thus gaining a circular shape). After the not that good experience with stamina of previous recent XZH, I went for a large chunk - our weight told us that it is 10g. 10g of Bulang tea is like playing russian roulette with five of six chambers full.
The leaves are quite nice, but beautiful Xi Zi Hao leaves leave me cold as a frozen penguin.
The aroma of wet leaves is nice - when the leaves are hot, I'd describe it as woody, fleshy with a bit of flowers. When the leaves cool down, they smell more of fruit and flowers.
The liquor has a reasonable color and clarity.
The taste is quite similar to the 2008 Menghai Peacock of Bulang. This tea is a bit less smoky and more flowery. That is good. However, I feel it is sligthly inferior in the fruitiness - where there was a pleasant fresh fruitiness complementing the main taste in the Peacock, the taste of this Bulang is, at least at the beginning, dominated by sour fruitiness. I do not enjoy such a sour taste that much - it was present in the Peacock too, but in lesser amount. I'd have preferred if this tea was sweeter (I did not notice the sweetness noted on the Houde website - however, the description was, in other ways, matching my own experience).
By the way, blood is dripping on the carpet, I lost the roulette, removing a portion of leaves in the third brew and reintroducing them back in the 7th brew.
Beyond the taste itself, the tea is surprisingly thick and smooth (more than the Peacock). There is a pleasant bit of bitterness in the tea (so pleasant after the quite bland previous XZH pieces), transformation of which leads to a fine aftertaste (also sourish, but I don't mind that as much in the aftertaste).
Mouthfeel is rather quiet, I'd prefer more activity in a tea of this level.
I enjoyed this probably more than the two previous weak XZH pieces, despite this being cheaper. I feel this tea still has something to base its future aging on. Even though it was not entirely enjoyable, it is, at least, rather strong.
Still, at almost $60 per 400g, a tea should be much more than fairly ordinary, "potentially not bad" Bulang. I even can not say that this tea is better than the three times cheaper Peacock of Bulang. This XZH Xiang Zhu is slightly better in some aspects (floweriness, thickness, smoothness, lack of smoke), where the Peacock is slightly better in another (less sour, more intense mouthfeel). Going slightly further than where the Peacock is, the 2007 Boyou Manlu Da Shan costs half of the Xiang Zhu and is, in my opinion, better in any aspect I can imagine.
Further reading: Half-Dipper