Friday, May 16, 2008

90's Tongqing Hao Shengpu

This flimsy old cake could be split and pulled apart with a gentle touch. Wabi-sabi beauty definitely shows through as the cake droops slightly over the edge of the table. The brew comes out as a lovely dark red/brown, smelling of wet lumber and tobacco.

Opening up in the flavor is a rich mellow flavor over wood and tobacco. Following the first infusion, a deep sweetness comes out that is very rich and reminiscent of an aged shu. The taste builds to be a little too rich, so I park some leaves in a spare cup for the time being.

Removing some leaves greatly increases the quality of the cup giving me lots of delicious lumber in the taste, good lumber being my favorite aspect to find in old sheng. Dry wood, wet wood, old wood, all under a blanket of must are noted after the stripping of leaves. The shu-like tastes are nearly diminished as I enjoy cup after cup of warm, lumber-rich, musty goodness. I begin to perspire as a sprite of hot qi envelops my body. Still going strongly in the 'teens, the large leaves open up to reveal a still somewhat green interior. Though the leaves are large, they are also quite thin and break apart easily.

I find this tea fluctuates dramatically in taste. It can be rich, mellow, woodsy, musty, shuey, and even calm, but not at the same time. Is this a sign of a good tea? I don't know. I do know that I like it, with the transient flavors making the tea somewhat more of a journey. Doing this tasting in 90°f weather has been somewhat demanding, especially after eating some spicy lime-chicken pizza. On another day, with a light breeze, a cleaner palate, and less leaf, I will write up a part-2 of this tasting.


Salsero said...

O MY GOD! I must have that tea! Where did you get it?

... or is it just your skill as a reviewer and TeaPhotog? Still, it looks and sounds so goooooood...

Is that a Skip4Tea item?

Hobbes said...

Any tea that can survive spicy lime-chicken pizza (?!?!) must be worthy of respect!



P.s. Fantastic photos.

Wes said...

Salsero, it is indeed.

I think it took around 5 steeps to wash the lime-chicken pizza off, heh.

I'm looking forward to trying this one again, as I didn't get a clear picture of the tea with all the madness that was going on.

Bill said...

It was about time Wes! Sounds like you had a good experience with Skip4tea. Should I venture into the unknown and try my luck? ;) Good review! Sounds like wet stored stuff with all of the woods and shu notes. Sounds tasty!

MarshalN said...

This tea is actually a good example of "border tea", Vietnamese stuff most likely, that were produced in the 80s and 90s. They're not bad, especially for the price. If you drink enough of them and compare them against Yunnan stuff, you can see the difference, but by and large, they can be quite agreeable as a tea.

Wes said...

Thanks MarshalN, most enlightening. Considering the price, I thought that was likely the case. If it is border tea, then it's the best I've ever had, blowing that 80's liao fook out of the tea-water.