Yunnan Sourcing says this shou has notes of whiskey, smoke, and peat, but in the first few steeps I get what I can only describe as the smell of an abandoned warehouse full of lumber or disused whiskey casks. It’s old, decaying wood, but it’s not earthy and organic, like a fallen tree on the forest floor; it’s more musty than that. Takes me back to my urban-exploration days, of all things, when a friend and I would find ourselves exploring PA’s odd little ghost towns, poking into the stale interiors of forgotten houses weakened by summer rain and sun.
Not sure whether that note comes from the fermentation or storage, but it’s not something I’ve experienced yet in a shou. Tasting it, I do notice some old smoke, along with a faint sour cherry note. The wood and smoke linger through most of the session, but start to diminish about halfway through and reveal a thin stevia-like sweetness in the middle. By the end, this puerh’s distinctive flavors have faded into a more “generic” shou profile. The body remains pretty thick throughout — I’ll be honest, the combination of viscosity plus the wood/smoke flavors was a bit off-putting at first, but it’s starting to grow on me.
My experience with shou is still limited, but this one stands apart from other, more typical examples, like Xiaguan’s own Xiao Fa tuocha. A learning experience for me — and an unexpected bit of nostalgia.
Flavors: Cherry, Decayed Wood, Smoke, Sour, Sweet