Decided to go ahead and break out my third-favorite of the shou puerhs I have on hand since I’m in a Dim Sum mood and since I just had a bunch of nice aged sheng cha the other night I thought it would be nice to see how a good ol’ shou would stand up. Honestly, I’m a little let down tonight.
I’ve had this plenty of times at home and almost every time I go to Imperial Tea Court’s Berkeley teahouse (for some reason I tend to get an oolong or the Imperial Puerh instead when I go to the Ferry Building location in San Francisco) so I’m really familiar with it and love it, but tonight it just isn’t holding up for me. Still tastes great, just not blowing me out of the water.
Used 4g with 100ml water in a well-seasoned squat shi piao style zi ni yixing teapot. Single rinse with water shortly off a just-about-to-boil. I did not use my temperature probe tonight, but temps started around 97C and declined to 85C or so before refilling the kettle and bringing back up to just hitting a boil. Infusions progressed 15sec, 20sec, 25sec, 30sec, 35sec, 40sec, 40sec, 50sec, 60sec, 7min, 12min(boiling).
I feel really bad saying it, but the leaves look like the picture and the flavor matches the retailer’s description. The seven minute steep really didn’t taste a whole heck of a lot different from the 30 second steep. Bugged me to find the flavor and color declining at only the sixth infusion since I’ve pushed this to twenty brews before giving up… Usually I measure this one volumetrically into my pot, though, so I may be using only half or one third the concentration I normally do.
Dry Fragrance is woody and much like leaf litter. Wet leaf aroma same but moist, hahaha. I guess there’s a bit of cinnamon to the dry fragrance that’s washed out in the rinse and the wet aroma has a mossy, mineral, and barely noticeable clove note mixed with wet hardwood and plum (when warm, sorta intoxicating). Light currant and faint molasses sweetness to liquor aroma with more intense infusions providing a plum sauce heady aromatic base. Brews a very pretty darkish coppery orange color that is very clear.
Silky smooth. Full body. Bark off an oak tree and a bit of a cottonwood aroma. Steamed white rice sweetness that increases with each steep but not falling out of balance with base flavor. Has the set flavors you’d hope for in a nice, clean, mellow, well-balanced shou puerh and very reliable… but that’s what you get. The profile is pretty darned static. I have no reservations after tasting each brew in a tasting cup in tossing three infusions together and drinking in a single cup alongside food. Makes the food taste better. Goes reeeeally well with pork pot stickers dipped in soy sauce and more than made up for the failings of some sad steamed barbecue pork buns (still on my kick from last night – this experience a poor reproduction).
Final brew of 12 minutes tastes a lot like your standard sifted bud-heavy loose shou rinsed twice and brewed 3-5 minutes. Tasty and sweet but not exceptional.
Let down, but still a really good tea. This is one of those supreme comfort-teas I would keep on hand all the time if not for the price. Hard to beat in terms of tea that you can relax and have with dinner or watch a movie to. Best shared with someone though…