This sweet little 100 gram tuo was part of my first order with Danish teahouse Simply Tea.
If I’ve interpreted Simply Tea’s notes correctly then this tea is so named because it is referring back to the origins of this style of pressed sheng pu-erh, namely that it was first produced in Jinggu county, and picked up its moniker due to the fact that it was sold at markets on the Tuo river in Sichuan province.
Eustacia has an excellent post on this topic on her wonderful blog “Eustea Reads“.
Simply Tea’s notes go on to say that this tuo was pressed in Lin Cang province from mao cha from “very old tea trees“. The tea garden is located at an altitude of 2750 meters, and was only discovered in 1997 after the clearance of a bamboo forest. The picking standard is described as 1 bud and 2 leaves.
|Water Used:||Filtered tap water.|
|Weight of dry leaf:||6 grams|
|Infusion style:||Asian / Gong-fu|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml porcelain gaiwan|
|No. & duration:||10 infusions of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 70, 90, and 120 seconds duration.|
The dry leaf had a subtle sheng aroma, with a hint of tobacco and smoke.
After the first infusion I could see that the leaf was quite choppy – there was small fragments of leaf all over the inside of the gaiwan and its lid, and the strainer was full of largish bits of leaf shrapnel.
Considering that this was high altitude, old tree Lin Cang material, I was expecting a fast and wild ride, all warp factor 9 and no seat belts. I was quite surprised, then, when those first few sips revealed a fairly mild, routine sheng experience that brought with it a green apple like vegetal sweetness.
That didn’t last long, though. Just one round later I was sweating like the proverbial. There was no dial here, just a button. Things went from meek and mild to fast and furious PDQ. It was like being woken from a deep sleep by an ensemble of air horns. Yes, there was a good slug of dark, smoky bitterness suddenly flexing its muscles, but there was always the feeling that the beast was always safely on the leash.
Underneath that slightly edgy facade there was something rather, dare I say it, nuanced bordering on cultured, like discovering that the vocalist of a thrash metal band had trained as a chorister, and his axe wielding colleagues were similarly classically educated flamenco guitarists.
Then the Qi came out to play, a sleepy, dreamy, mind-goes-wandering job. An icy, cooling menthol sheet coated the roof of my mouth, and refused to let go.
The session kind of raced on with no real noticeable tail-off in intensity of anything, until after 10 rounds with what seemed like the flick of a switch we were all done.
Some final thoughts, then.
This tea just felt like a great fit for an early morning autumnal session, perfect for clear skies and cool temperatures.
I think it also makes for a great daily drinker, too. This is no Diva tea, demanding to be centre stage all eyes on me. It’s more than happy as a team player, sat in the background, quietly taking care of business.
I think it would be interesting to get another couple of these tuos in simply to see what they morph into a few years from now. They seem to have an interesting pedigree, after all, and I’m thinking about commandeering a corner of a cool, dark, slightly damp cellar I know of for just that kind of fiendish experiment.
Watch this space, etc…