I found this 100 gram feng (square brick) of shou Pu-erh at one of my favourite suppliers, House of Tea.
Regular readers of this blog might just remember that I took a look at a sheng feng cha by the Haiwan factory a while back. This shou feng can be thought of as the yin to that tea’s yang.
Information on this brick seems to be a little scarce, but from what I can gather it seems to be comprised of middle-of-the-range quality material from the Menghai area, with a relatively large percentage of golden buds, something that becomes readily apparent upon examining the brick. This particular recipe seems to have been introduced in 2005.
One good thing to remember about the Haiwan factory is that it was founded by an ex-manager of the legendary Menghai tea factory that played such an important role in the development of the Wo Dui wet piling process used in the production of shou Pu-erh. I’ve read that the technique used by the Haiwan factory is very close indeed to that used by Menghai, meaning that their shous are often regarded as being right up there with Menghai ones in terms of quality.
|Weight of dry leaf:||7 grams|
|Infusion style:||Gong-fu / Asian|
|Steeping vessel:||135 ml unglazed clay teapot|
|No. & duration:||a 2 second rinse, then a 1st. infusion @ 5 seconds, then @ +5 seconds until 35 seconds, then @ 1 and 1.5 minutes for a total of 9 infusions|
Quite often fengs have a really tight compression, making it both awkward and potentially dangerous when it comes to freeing up a batch of leaf, but that wasn’t the case here. The compression was more towards the moderate part of the scale, and so it was both relatively easy (and safe!) to get the pick in and the desired amount of leaf out.
Yes, 7 grams is a wee bit on the heavy side for a 135 ml pot, but those two good looking tea clumps flaked off as clean as a whistle from the feng, and I wasn’t in the mood to start messing around trying to split them into smaller bits, so into the pot they went as-is.
The rinsed leaves smelled of hot baking parchment, and the first few infusions proper were earthy, medicinal, and sweet with a good hui gan, a honey like aftertaste that hung around after the tea had been swallowed. The creamy body resulted in a case of Sticky Lips Syndrome.
By the time the 3rd infusion had hit the teaware the Qi was starting to make its presence known, inducing profuse sweating on the chest, forehead and under-arm areas, as well as a mellow, laid back vibe.
Even though the 7th infusion showed signs of the tea starting to run out of steam, I still pressed on with a couple of longer steepings, something I’m not normally inclined to do with shous, but this was one occasion where I felt that even though the quality of the tea soup was on the wane, it was worth pressing on for a while. Two rounds later, however, and although the body, aroma, and taste might not have actually left the building, they were certainly unlocking the back door, so I called a halt to my session at that point. Still, 9 rounds…
A good little brick this, then. Having thought about it, I might just have to do a side-by-side tasting, with this cake facing off against a similar Menghai tea, just to see how they do actually compare to each other. Should be an interesting as well as a fun experiment.
Watch this space, etc…