97

Following up my Thai eggplant and ground pork takeout with a strong, clean shou to cut the grease.

I’ve brewed this consistently throughout the 1-oz bag. Easy to break off a 5-gram chunk and go western in a ball jar. Couple of 10-second rinses, though after tasting the second rinse, I think only one could be had. Already dark and clear. Fill ’er up with 8oz of boiling water. 30/60/90/120/180/asyouplease.

The brewed liquor smells like the ancient, leaky trailer my friend used to live in on the edge of damp riparian habitat. His mother, the prior occupant, was an indoor chainsmoker. Sounds gross, right? Tastes amazing.

If that offends you, I can say it also reminds me of slogging through a forested swamp in northeastern Ohio on a cloudy and cold November day. It’s about 36F and nearing sundown. Clay and muck and leaf decay stick to my wader’s boots and weigh me down. Somebody within a mile has a fire burning. The smoky particulates stick to my own misty exhalations which I breathe back in, open-mouthed. I’m a sweaty stick of human-landjaeger in these chest waders, forever trudging forward. Sounds gross, right? Tastes amazing!

Ash, earthy fungal loam, humus, smoke, leather, old books, followed by a tingling tongue, decaying dark wood, gray clay (very specific mineral taste for me), tobacco, lighter wood and finally a sweetness like vanilla. Mouthfeel stays light and clean. Cha qi is near instant and unbeatable. Perk up, calm down, both gaze and lights soften. I’m immobilized yet focused within this rusty orange hue. If I were still much of a writer, this would be my choice of beverage for late nights of visualizing and penning.

I’m pretty sure you could manage less leaf, more steeps, lower temperature and still end up with a decent cup.

Sad to see this ounce go. I will order several cakes of this to have as my go-to evening shou.

Preparation
Boiling 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Tea Habits:

Among my favorites are sheng puerh, Taiwanese oolong, a variety of black (red) teas from all over, all teas Nepali, herbals, Wuyi yancha. I keep a few green and white teas on hand. Shou puerh is a cold weather brew. Tiny teapots and gaiwans are my usual brewing vessels when not preparing morning cups western style and pouring into my work thermos. Friend of teabags. Hold the milk and sugar unless we’re talking masala chai.

In my late teens, home-brewed unsweetened Lipton iced tea was the drink of choice to combat cottonmouth. The following years saw the appearance of the odd box of tea from Trader Joe’s. About 4 years ago, walking out of the parking garage where I kept my motorcycle, I came across a move-out dumpster treasure: single serve packets of what I can look back now and say was Wuyi yancha. Yes, I drank dumpstered tea and honestly, that’s what blew the doors wide open.

Preference Reference
“That’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.

89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be great daily drinkers.

79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.

69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.

59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possesses off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.

Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.

Character Rundown:

Boring pandemic hermit whose only current hobbies besides tasting tea are skateboarding and learning herbalism. Will update as the times change.

Location

Sonoma County, California, USA

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