My post evening meal pot of shou Pu-erh has become something of a tradition, and I was on the lookout for a new tea to take on this role.
I found this cake at my favourite Swedish retailer, House of Tea. It’s a standard 357 gram sized beeng cha, from the Liming Tea Factory, and sold under the “Ba Jiao Ting” (“Octagonal Pavilion“) brand name. I paid 499 Swedish Crowns for it, which as of today equals €50.37, £45.18, or US$55.24 .
The quite tippy cake is a 2009 pressing of leaves from the 2008 harvest from the Menghai and Menghun region. The text reading “Kong Que Zhi Xiang” on the wrapper references Menghai County’s nickname – “Village of Peacock”.
Although so far I’ve only been picking away at the outer edges of the cake, it doesn’t seem to be overly tightly compressed, and it’s been relatively easy to free up and flake off the required amount of tea.
My first outing with this tea was using 5/6 grams in my Samadoyo teapot. Water was fresh off a rolling boil. After a very quick rinse I started off with a 10 second infusion, bumping the time by 5 seconds for all the following rounds. This way the leaves were good for 7 steepings before they gave up the ghost.
I’ve also steeped this tea Western style, going a bit on the heavy side at 5/6 grams in the 500 ml Ikea Riklig teapot. This actually better suits my usual evening schedule, when I’m winding down after cooking our evening meal, and want a pot of tea with the minimum of fuss. I get 2 steepings from the leaves, one at 2 minutes, and a second one at 2½ minutes.
The tea liquor had the expected deep bronze colour, and a wonderful, creamy mouth feel, and a sweet element that was very much like vanilla.
In my experience better quality shous can have some sheng-like aspects – here there was a leather and freshly cut hardwood thing going on, as well as a full-bodied nut flavour working with that creamy feel, something that reminded me of a nut butter, cashew with a hint of walnut maybe.
The earthiness you would normally expect from a shou Pu-erh was there, but quite subtle and laid back. It made me think of lichen on the granite rocks near our summer house on a blazing hot August afternoon…
So, all things considered a good digestif tea.
If I can be accurate with my portion control it should be good for 2 and a bit months.