I must sincerely thank Teavivre (Angel) for the opportunity to try this. I’ve been reading loads and loads on pu’ercha recently (and working through quite a bit of samples), and I would definitely recommend this as a learning experience. Recently I had a (very long) session with this sheng over a couple games of weiqi with a friend who was also impressed with this tea.
I would probably not consider Teavivre to be a go-to vendor for pu’ercha, but what they do have seem to be of a great quality. I’m strongly considering purchasing a tuo of this sheng to age further, because I feel it has great potential and is already quite good as it stands. I may instead go with the 2006 Fengqing cake they sell, which from what I have read has similar properties to this tuocha (at least from what I can compare) and is thought highly of in the blogosphere. I have of late been leaning towards the acquisition of tuochas, though, as they are quite convenient for me: smaller amount of leaf compared to the standard 357g cakes, allowing multiple to be purchased for close to the same price as one cake (which means variety and less per cake on “tuition” costs if I end up making an error in judgment), but still enough leaf to age for a while.
Anyway, back to the sheng at hand. The compression of the tuo is extremely high. The sample bag containing an intact chunk was like a rock and refused to be broken up cooperatively until after a rinse of near-boiling water. The compression shows in the wet leaves, which are a right mess of fragmented leaves and small pieces, but the resulting liquor proves mature, although somewhat murky in early steeps. In fact, both the leaves and the liquor are noticeably dark for younger sheng. Midway through the session, the coloration becomes a dark amber with a faint, but nonetheless noticeable lighter meniscus. All together, these signs seem to point to good storage and a decent bit of aging.
The liquor, while not entirely “complex” in flavor, provides a very smooth mouthfeel that translates nicely into a sweet aftertaste and a cooling huigan. Later on more of a sparkling texture is apparent mid-sip. To add balance, there is a strong, enveloping kuwei (bitterness) in the throat that is not at all unpleasant and lingers expectedly. Based on so many fragmented leaves, the taste is actually far less bitter (and far sweeter) that I would have expected. Sewei (unpleasant astringency) is minimal and mostly detected upon the tongue tip and lips. There are light notes from the fruity spectrum to add depth and touches of tobacco flavors that provide a robustness, separating it from the youthful sheng with grassy, floral complexions. Sweet floral and caramel aromas are trapped under the gaiwan lid, while added deep fruity scents show up in the empty cup.
By the third steep, a developing cha qi is present and becomes quite strong. Good bursts of positive energy that linger even past the 15 or so steeps that this tea can easily last for. Really, I’m quite impressed. This has become one of my favorite younger shengs that I’ve tasted.
Ahhh, right before I was about to post this I found a bit of black string poking out from the wet leaves. No matter; that’s what a strainer is for.