Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How to Gong Fu for one, Featuring the Enigmatic Mystery Shou!

Meet the mystery Shou.
I found him ( I think of this one as male, he's very earthy), at my "local-ish" asian market, when I realised that they no longer carry my go to oolong. So sad. BUT- I found this baby for 9.99, which even if it is a dud, it's not a bad price to pay for adventure!

It came in this box, which I know to be a generic pu'erh gifting box.

Even the paper wrapper is generic, and tells me absolutely nothing, only by the color I see through the wrapper do I know it is indeed a shou pu'erh.

Again, just a generic note stating what pu'erh is and where it is generally from.

 the cake is dark, and smells mildly of earth. I had HELL breaking off enough, and when I did break off a chunk I ended up with 7.2 grams

The leaf peices are not very big, indicative of a cheaper pu'erh. 

Into the gaiwan it goes

I started with 208 degree water, I wanted to start off a little cooler, to try and mitigate any fishy-ness.

A gaiwan works just like a teapot, KIND OF. You pour water into the gaiwan, and after a short time (my rinses are three seconds, my first steep was fifteen seconds, increasing by fifteen seconds for each subsequent steep.) you decant it into a small pitcher or your cup (I am using a creamer pitcher I got from a resale shop for $1.25), preferably through a strainer. Practice with cold water first, to get the hang of pouring it, then move on to hot water, you may find you have to adjust your grip based on WHERE your gaiwan tends to heat up fastest. Then move on to making tea with it after revising your grip based on the hot water test.

See all those tiny leaf fragments floating to the top, not a good sign.

First rinse did not smell fishy at all, thank the almighty gaiwan, but I went for a second three second rinse, just to be sure.

Both rinses got thrown down the drain, that's just my preference, and since the entire point of them is to get dirt off the tea, I wouldn't drink them, just my two cents.


My makeshift "sharing pitcher" can hold 3 brews worth of my gaiwan, which is 125 ml per brew, translating to 375 ml of tea.

Again just strain it into the pitcher, note the small strainer on top of the pitcher, that's to catch any leaves the lid can not catch.

Dang this tea brews up dark. Smells straight up like fresh hay as well. 
After a trial sip i tossed a packet of sweetener into the sharing pitcher, it had a very slight mud flavor that was taken care of by the addition of the single packet.

I got 9 more steeps out of this tea before it gave up the ghost, and I have to say, it maintained fairly consistent throughout the tasting, the mud flavor did dissipate after the second set of brews, replaced by a slight mushroomy flavor. The most consistent flavor throughout my tasting was that of fresh hay, which, although I don't mind that flavor at all, I wish this pu'erh had been a tiny bit more complex, but for 9.99, I am NOT going to complain.

 I give this tea a 65/100, and since I have no clue about the actual manufacturer of this particular tea, I can not provide a link. I feel that this tea would be best iced, or even cold brewed after a boiling hot rinse, it might bring out quite a bit of sweetness that I can almost taste in this tea brewed hot.

This was by far not the worst shou pu'erh I have ever tried, that honor belongs to the yellow mini tuocha,but it is not the best, either. I feel that 6 months of being aired out may bring out more complexity, or even dull that muddy flavor, and I may revisit my review at that point.

As I often do, I implore you to explore the tea aisle in your favorite ethnic market. You may find something fun, weird, and maybe even delicious.


  1. Oh hey, I have that same Puerh -maybe, since there is no info on it, who knows, though it does look exactly the same- and agree with your assessment, not bad but also not very complex. A good everyday kinda pu :)