93

Glad so many folks took so many comprehensive notes I happen to agree with ‘cause I just sat there and brewed this over and over with the attitude of a little kid blithely playing with a new toy. Okay, maybe I also rambled on and on about the merits of well-done puerh and the sad state of poorly made wo-dui teas or wet-stored teas for a little over an hour while sharing this with a neighbor, then proceeding to brew nine very different teas back-to-back into the night before returning to this, once again. When all was said and done, we’d been tasting tea for about four hours and only one tea out of the ten we tasted was capable of blowing this one away. But, hey, this tea was a highly effective springboard to drag an unsuspecting Matcha drinker into the realm of puerh and take him on a trip of different processing styles and techniques. Come to think of it, he’s one lucky duck having this be his first puerh!

I got this beauty as a roughly 11g sample from Geoffrey (THANK YOU!) and used it ALL in my 200mL Zi Ni Shi Piao pot for Shou Puerh using water brought up to 98C and occasionally drifting down to 87C before being refilled and heated. Last pot was the 11th infusion and I’m sure I could’ve milked a few long brews out of it to finish it off but it was competing admirably with one of my favorite teas of all time and I was running out of purified water. All infusions were around 30-45 seconds except for maybe one cooler steep I let go a little while. Color had great clarity and swung from deep yellow-orange to red-orange and lingered in the red-tinged range but overall had the appearance of Port only once really venturing into the range of red wine coloration.

Exceptionally clean yet very full bodied. First couple infusions had a nice resinous tang and softwood sweetness but it really started to shine ‘round the third and fourth brews. Fourth infusion was a big, fat, teddy bear hug over my tongue. Oh so warm and cuddly. Infusions 4-7 were graceful and borderline sensuous. Mouthwatering, brandy-like (neighbor said it was like a good whiskey) and with a comforting flavor and aroma reminiscent of wet river rock and antique wood.
Okay, that’s not good enough… “Antique Wood” doesn’t carry the weight this did for me, as it carried a very particular scene.
There’s this “World Goods” place a few blocks from me that just went out of business that had a terrific but frighteningly expensive range of furniture and various wood and paper goods produced by tribes from the Indo-Pacific and Africa. They had several massive solid teak four-poster beds placed intermittently among sandalwood trays sitting atop carved hardwood cabinets. A few years back, my then-girlfriend and I laid down together on one of these beds to see if $20,000 was really worth it for a frame. The comfortable feeling of laying in each others arms on that warm afternoon in the loft above that store filled with the smells of teak, bamboo, sandalwood, hand-pressed papyrus paper, dried lotus leaves, and the faint hint of coconut oil in her silky hair accentuated with the all-too-appropriate sounds of bamboo wind chimes and a trickling fountain wrapping all together in one of the sole truly pleasant memories from an otherwise not-so-good relationship… This tea dragged that whole sensation and memory back up from the depths of my mind where I’d intentionally kicked it.

This is probably the second best (maybe tied for second) of any Shu Pu’er I’ve had. At roughly $1/gram I’d say this is a good deal for even 1.5x the price – 2x would be the norm for the range and durability of flavor I got from this. The only issue I have with the tea at all is the description relating to “mustiness”, of which there is only a tad in the wet leaf aroma alongside the smell of a riparian cave. I’d say replace that signifier with the word “Humus” or “Moist Bark” and it would be much more accurate and less suggestive of your average pile fermented tea.

I’ll be singing the praises of this pretty little thing of a tea for a fair while to come and just hope I can buy some more before stock runs out.

And as for the tea capable of knocking this and my socks off and halfway to the moon… I might consider writing about it if it finally makes it onto the online catalogue of the company it’s from and then I get time to attempt doing it justice. Knowing me, that’ll be after hell thaws from a deep freeze, but here’s hoping…

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Azzrian

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Tea Geek.

My focus is on Chinese Wulongs and Pu’er but I’m all over the place. I tend to follow a seasonal progression of teas, following the freshness curve of greens through summer and rounding the cooler months out with toastier teas and Masala Chai.
With the exception of Masala Chai milk tea I’m a purist at heart. While I was originally snagged by Earl Grey with bergamot and make blends for gifts, I very rarely go for scented teas or herbals and can’t remember the last time I bought a tea that was blended. Pure tea is just more interesting to me than the product of mixing flavors. I do understand and appreciate their existence, though.

I upload some blends I make or special prep teas I nab under the company name “Green Raven Tea and Coffee” and the vast majority of these posts will be blends crafted to create flavors/characteristics not inherent in any one particular tea.
I’ve worked as a tea buyer for a smallish cafe and try to keep apprized of shifts in offerings even when not selecting for a business so I wind up sampling a ton of wholesale samples from a couple companies in particular but try to branch out to as many companies as I can find. Until Steepster integrates some form of comparative tasting feature, none of my cupping notes will make it onto my reviews unless wrapped up into something I feel compelled to drink multiple times on its own.



Since all the cool kids are doing it, here’s my big fat ratings scheme:

0-12…..Ugh, don’t wish on anyone
13-25….Bad, won’t touch again
26-37….Huh, not worth the effort
38-50….Meh, unremarkable
51-62….Okay, good tea
63-75….Tasty, really good tea
76-87….Yum, wonderful
88-100…Wow, really spectacular

There shouldn’t be many postings at all from me ranked 26-50 since unremarkable teas are unlikely to make me remark on ’em but to “earn” a score 37 or below I have to be disappointed to the point where others may ask for a refund or turn down offers even when free or offered as a gift (beyond stale).

I’ve got a ton of respect for anything rated 63 or higher.

For a tea to get 71 or more, it has to be pretty special and kinda blow my socks off.

The 90s are reserved for wonders that make me reevaluate my views of the world of tea as a whole.

Location

Santa Rosa, California, United States

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