2nd of 3 received from Bhale.
Maiden is a dark shupu said to hail from a small tribe where only female virgins pick the tea-leaves. That aside, the leaf is small and has that slight powder-coated look to it.
The taste is much as I remember it when I first tried it oh so long ago. The color is quite red, and if I could say it tastes red, then this would be a lot easier. Anyways, the taste is fairly bold, in it's shupu style, with a heavy fermentation taste (*like malt) and some doughy sweetness. The cloudiness is not too much, but the tea isn't clear either. For some reason my filter has been getting clogged quicker of late. This shu set the record. I don't know what I'll do about that. Maybe I'll pressure-wash it. Otherwise it's time for a new one.
This stuff is really red. Kind of scary. Like blood. Maybe my tea got virgin sacrifices dedicated to it. That'd be a deal.
In my experience, there are two main colors of shupu: red and brown. At least to me, the reds have always been better than the browns. This is one of the few reds that have carried a hefty maltiness. The malt is usually found in the darker, cloudy-brown shupus. I find the malt to be a pleasant flavor.
The secon infusion keeps with it, delivering that same heavy fermentation(*malt) smell. This one tastes quite different from most shu I've had. I suspect it might be from a slightly different cooking process. It's very shu-like, malty. That might be it. A strong taste and odor of maltiness. I usually use the word "malt" to describe the texture, but in this case it definitely instills the flavor profile.
The tea color stayed surprisingly consistent in the following infusions. The taste mellowed out around the fifth. Leaving the 6th to be drinkable, but not interesting. Color lessens around the 6th. I figure this one could go for 8 if someone wanted to push it. I didn't use much leaf, so more would probably mean more good infusions.
I conclude that this is good stuff, on level with my other favorite shu. It's interesting to think that the first shu I liked, oh so long ago, is still at the top of my list. I do have around 5 more new shu samples to try. If none of them pan out, I might try to keep a stock of this stuff. Although, it is pretty overpriced at Rishi. Oh well.
To define this one in one word: Malt.
Crap, that was a lot easier!