Ancient Shu Pu-erh Tuo Cha

Tea type
Pu'erh Tea
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Earth, Fishy, Mushrooms, Green Beans, Leather, Dark Wood, Drying, Roasted Barley, Wet Moss, Dates, Molasses, Nuts, Tobacco
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Edit tea info Last updated by CHAroma
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec 6 g 3 oz / 100 ml

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69 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I wanted Shu this evening, & I was gonna head back to Tony’s, so I brought one of these tuochas along. They are handy to have, easy to deal with. I steeped it in a cup for 3 minutes. I...” Read full tasting note
  • “No particular reason why I wanted this, I just felt like giving it a try. First I rinsed the cake, 40 seconds allowing it to unfurl. The 40 seconds may be a bit long, I understand, but it got rid...” Read full tasting note
  • “So I looked thru my tea cabinet and spied this tea. I had one mini cake left so I figured I’d finish it off today. I’ve had this tea for a very long time. I bought this since I had never tried...” Read full tasting note
  • “SIPDOWN! thank you terriharplady for this sample. I’m kicking off the morning with this one, and will likyl be coming back to it throughout the day to ground my tastebuds. I have a number of teas...” Read full tasting note

From Rishi Tea

Classic style compressed Pu-erh designed for an 8oz infuser mug or teapot. Hand-harvested from the antique tea trees of Jingmai Mangjing, our Pu-erh Mini-Tuo Cha is rich, full-bodied and smooth with a sweetly flavored infusion rarely found in this type of tea. Each Tuo Cha weighs 5–6 grams.

About Rishi Tea View company

Rishi Tea specializes in sourcing the most rarefied teas and botanical ingredients from exotic origins around the globe. This forms a palette from which we craft original blends inspired by equal parts ancient herbal wisdom and modern culinary innovation. Discover new tastes and join us on our journey to leave ‘No Leaf Unturned’.

69 Tasting Notes

3294 tasting notes

I wanted Shu this evening, & I was gonna head back to Tony’s, so I brought one of these tuochas along. They are handy to have, easy to deal with. I steeped it in a cup for 3 minutes. I re-steeped it for 4, & then 5. Sure, I have way better Shu’s in my collection, but this one will do for today. Smooth, rich, earthy, grounding.


Your recent pu’erh tea notes are somewhat intriguing me to just maybe branch out again into pu’erh. Hmm.

Terri HarpLady

I really enjoy puerh. Shengs give me a sense of clarity, Shu’s feel very grounding. :)


I made the mistake of trying Aloha Pu’erh as my first ever. I’ve steered clear ever since but perhaps my wariness is fading. I’ll have to check into them more :)


courtney doooo eeeeet!


What do you recommend for starting off Sil?


i really like manadala’s puerh to be honest. So far they are my favourite, though verdant has had some enjoyable ones too. Special Dark, Noble Mark…phatty cake…uh… man there are a bunch. Garrett will also help you figure out what might be appealing to you if he gets a sense of what types of teas you like – he helped me out! I am totally disorganised these days but i can send you a couple samples in the near-ish future if you bug me in a week or so


Haha okay. I will screen shot to even remember myself! Thanks :)

Terri HarpLady

I second everything Sil just said! :)




I’m no expert on pu-erh, currently sampling stuff from advice from a vendor to get my head around it, but from my knowledge of Verdant and puerh, I’d try somewhere else! Not that their tea is bad, but they are terribly misleading and overpriced because of it at times (I have experience with their oolongs, and word has it they are worse with puerh)!

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243 tasting notes

No particular reason why I wanted this, I just felt like giving it a try.

First I rinsed the cake, 40 seconds allowing it to unfurl. The 40 seconds may be a bit long, I understand, but it got rid of the soil, earthy, fishy smell. Then I steeped the cup I was going to drink for 20 seconds. The liquor is very very dark, cannot see through it at all, there is the slightly earthy aroma still, but you do not taste it. The flavor is very light, but it is the mouth feel that is impressive. There is a slight sweetness and an earthy, rich tea taste. This flavor comes across as light, but the tea itself feels heavy, almost like it can coat your mouth, a viscosity not common in tea, but more often in thick juices or milk. Though this mouth feel is not offensive, it is difficult to describe.

Would not want to waste a perfectly good pu-erh cake, so I steeped one more time, 30 seconds, the liquor is much lighter now. The flavor nor the mouth feel seem to have been changed, they are still light, sweet, and earthy, with a thick mouth feel.

Going to infuse a fourth and probably final time. Will update if anything changes :)

Overall, this is very good, and for my first pu-erh cake, I am impressed. I cannot wait to try more pu-erhs.

0 min, 45 sec

Yay for pu-erh! :)

Madison Bartholemew

wooooo! I knew I could get you into these!… I jus got in the lapsang I want to share with you…. and a super special puerh I can’t wait to try! Knowing you’ll be excited too is awesome!


We drove in this torrential rain all the way to Whole Foods to get more and they were out :(


It’s so windy out too!


I know, there are trees and electrical poles down everywhere here…

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1629 tasting notes

So I looked thru my tea cabinet and spied this tea. I had one mini cake left so I figured I’d finish it off today. I’ve had this tea for a very long time. I bought this since I had never tried pu-erh before. I remember not enjoying this one at the beginning and it just sat in my cabinet. During the last bits of this tea, I’ve been enjoying it a lot. I’m sad to see this one go, but I feel some sense of accomplishment. I rinsed this cake to loosen it up a bit and steeped it like I usually do. I love the dark chocolate flavor with the mild sweetness mixed with mild bitterness. It doesn’t need additives if you do short steeps, but I think it tastes great with a little milk and sugar. For me, it brings out the chocolate. It is also earthy, and smells almost fishy as I was steeping it. This went away though, thankfully. Good tea overall!!

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14731 tasting notes

SIPDOWN! thank you terriharplady for this sample. I’m kicking off the morning with this one, and will likyl be coming back to it throughout the day to ground my tastebuds. I have a number of teas i want to try from the canadian teabox so that I can get it out the door asap.

First impressions: earthy, there’s a sweetness in the background, mushroomy almost.. more to come.

Edit: Still really enjoying this over the morning and afternoon…the earthiness is sliding in to the background and the sweeter notes are coming to the front.

Jiāng Luo

looks like you have already tried this one lol oops


Haha oopsy. Although that was 6 months ago and my taste buds have changed from even then..

Jiāng Luo

True Im trying to drink all my green tea/green oolongs before this years harvests start to come to market. New years resolution was to drink seasonally and keep my cupboard under a manageable number of teas, so we will see how that goes, a few months ago I gave away almost a full Lb in total and i still have an entire cabinet dedicated to tea.

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2816 tasting notes

So I just read over the tasting notes for this tea. Should sales people from tea companies even be allowed to rate their competitor’s teas: I don’t know. It seems a bit tacky to me personally.

In any event I bought a big bag of these a few months ago in 2011. I gave some away and I only have a few left which I will save to see if and how aging changes them.

This tea benefits from a quick rinse in boiling water. They recommend steeping it for 3-4 minutes which seems like a bit extreme to me. I did mine for around 2 minutes. It’s a very dark, earthy and rich brew, no bitterness at all. OK, it does smell a tad bit fishy according to the BF but I never noticed that before. I associated it with shiitake mushrooms, coffee, chocolate and broth. Curious. I’d much rather have this than camphor any day of the week. I first started drinking tea like this when I quit drinking coffee. I was told that pu-erh has the lowest acidity of any tea. It does seem like it’s easy on my stomach. I think this is a nice little shu.

My second steep was only for around 30 seconds and it is still very flavorful. I would definitely recommend shorter steeping times with this one…


tacky indeed…

David Duckler

Hey Amy, Do you mean Nate? He wrote that review while working for a local teahouse here in Minneapolis, which served the Rishi Tuocha. He has been helping me out for only the last few months. We used to work together at the shop- I remember when he first showed me Steepster last year, excited to start logging the teas he had tried so many times.

Charles Thomas Draper

I love the camphor….


David – yes. I will say no more. :)


Charles – I feel like I’m drinking a cough drop it’s ok but not my favorite thing…

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377 tasting notes

Thank You oOTeaOo for this sampling. This is my first offering from Rishi. There are some tea companies that I have not tried because I usually find a sale from another company that side tracks me(Tea ADD). Or I the fact that sometimes I’m cheap and don’t want to pay ten dollars for shipping. So I’m excited try this one. Now if you have read my tasting notes than you may know that I love Pu-Erh teas. The earthier the better in my opinion. I switched up the way I brew for this one. Normally I am not one to rinse Pu-Erh. Some may say that is wrong but normally I don’t. I did however rinse this one for 30 seconds. There is a benefit I have found for rinsing. I also usually brew for 3-4 minutes. However I found that in the 30 second rinse it prepares the tuocha for steeps to come, and I have up to 4 steeps so far at 2 minutes per steep. Each as dark and smooth as the first. So I may have to experiment more into shorter steeps with this. Of course I have been enjoying it in my Yixing cup that I have dedicated to unflavored Pu-Erhs. This is a fabulous tuocha. Had left overs for lunch today and they have been sitting heavy since. So this has definitely been helping. This one is very dark smooth and lovely. Very much like my favorite Imperial Pu-Erh or other tuocha’s

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I also do not usually rinse Pu-erh tea, though I have had me or two mini tuo chas that were definitely stronger on the second steep. I just enjoyed every steep for what it was.

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154 tasting notes

This is the tea that I am using to try to get to know pu-erh… it’s going ok now that I’ve learned to rise the leaves for about 20-30 seconds. That gets rid of the flavors that were creeping me out.
So… I’m still learning about pu-erh but the thing that I find most interesting is how thick the tea is. Physically thick. It’s strange when you aren’t used to tea being… coffee textured.
After the rinsing, the flavor of this tea is coming across very muted. You know when you get really drunk and everything feels fuzzy? That’s what this flavor reminds me of. Soft… and blurry.
Is that normal for pu-erhs?

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Right? I never thought of pu-erh as extremely earthy. To me it’s always been light and err a confusing tea.

Madison Bartholemew

I agree that the flavor is light… but I feel like the texture is heavy… and I’ve been craving this so it must be growing on me


Agree with you there too, texture of pu-erh is definitely heavy. I had some numi chocolate tea today, wasn’t super impressed. I think I enjoy plain pu-erh more. Going to give it another try tomorrow.

Madison Bartholemew

the more I have that one I’m liking it less compared to ‘real’ pu-erhs… the numi one is seeming more watered down as I drink more


Exactly! That’s what I was thinking as I was drinking it. Glad I’m not alone.

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35 tasting notes

I love the mossy, inky taste of of this tea. I brew it longer than usual, then re-brew. Sometimes, I add a little rum. Does that degrade me in the eyes of the true steepsters?

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 45 sec

Heck no, add more rum.


What Dan said!

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1908 tasting notes

I’m not very experienced with pu-erhs and this is the first cake-style one I’ve ever tried. I got three of those little cakes (cakelets?) courtesy of oOTeaOo, but I forgot about them for awhile and they got lost in the back of my cupboard and only resurfaced now when I did a major cleaning-out.

The cakes are surprisingly hard – I tried to break one in my hand and found I couldn’t. It smelled very earthy and rather pungent – a bit like manure maybe, or soil enriched with manure.

I gave it a 40 second rinse like I’ve seen people recommend to clean off the tea and open the cake up. Despite the rinse, the brewed tea was still super dark like a cup of dark roasted coffee without milk. I didn’t steep it for very long – only one minute and the result was a flavour that was surprisingly light when compared to its appearance. It has a distinctive earthy flavour with some mildly bitter, tannic notes – it actually seems to intensify a bit after I swallow each sip.

More steeps to come. :)

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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111 tasting notes

This past Saturday I made this my afternoon tea. It had been years since I had Tou Cha, and for some reason I thought the “teabowl” stayed intact. So I put it in a porcelain cup without a strainer, added nearly boiling water and POOF the tea leaves scattered. What were they afraid of?? Surely not hot water!

I had wanted to brew shorter steeps, but after rescuing my tea leaves with my glass press, the first steep was around 1.5 minutes. Dark color & a muddy, earthy, mushroom aroma greeted me. There was also a sweetness in the aroma. Full mouth feel, full of earthy mushroom sweetness I really enjoyed. At 1.5 minutes the 2nd cup was dark and deeper in flavor. Flavors and aromas waned in the 3rd cup (5 min), but it was still sweet, dark, earthy, and quite enjoyable. Always a smooth cup, and one more Tuo Cha for a future brew.

For lunch today I decided to steep my last Tuo Cha longer to intensify more of the flavors. My first steep was 3 min at 205 degrees. Cup was extremely dark, almost black; in fact, around the edges where the tea meets the cup, the tea seemed to have a purple hue. All aromas & flavors were intensified with the longer steep. More earth, mushrooms, and sweetness with no bitterness!

I forgot my second cup and let it steep for 7 minutes at 212 degrees. Flavors were still intensified-although less so than the previous cup. The sweetness in the second cup surprised me. I knew it would be there, but I said, “WOAH”, and couldn’t believe the sweetness that hit my tongue. This was the sweetest of all the cups I drank!

I find this Tuo Cha extremely drinkable, smooth, yet full flavored, sweet and delicious! Its unique qualities make it special. I’m going to experiment with more Tuo Cha teas in the future. Thank you kind Amy for this great sample. :))

Cupped: Saturday & Tuesday, 12-03 & 06-2011. Reviewed: Tue, 12-06-2011.

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec

I am glad you liked it. It is very mushroomy and earthy…

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