24 April, 2007

2000 Fuhai Shupu

Last Sunday at Mass in the college chapel, eyes closed, my senses were filled by fragrant smokiness from the incense, and light floral aromas from the bouquet at the end of my pew. Today's tea reminded me a little of this experience, of fragrant smoke and crisp flowers.

This is a sample of a Fuhai [blessed-sea] Factory shupu brick from Teamasters - thanks to SE for this little treat.

10cl "Xishi" shupu pot; Caledonian Springs @ 100C; 2 scoops; 2 rinses.

Dry leaves:
Well-pressed; a great deal of small leaves - SE lists this as a grade 1-3 brick. Oddly enough, it does seem to make a difference to this brick, as we'll cover below.

15s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 75s, 90s:

The infusion times alone should tell you that this tea is enduring. Most shupu has let go a lot earlier, requiring greater times between infusions. This trooper of a tea keeps soldiering on... long past my capacity to consume any more tea had been reached.

The clarity is excellent, in both colour of the soup, and the definition of the aroma and flavour. The aroma opens with gentle sweetness, ending in a medicinal lengxiang that leaves my mouth watering.

Full, sweet, and broad flavours, with that gentle tang at the end of the aroma making itself known in the aftertaste. Like the Lincang bing from a few days ago, this is vibrant and thrilling in its energy. It truly is effervescent on the lips and tongue.

Xiaomao likens this to the "alkaline" flavour of baking soda in Chinese steamed buns. It rings with a little freshness that is almost metallic, but in an energetic and full way - I dislike actual metallic flavours, mostly noticing them when I overbrew.

By the second infusion, the lighter orange soup has plummeted in colour to a rich claret, and there the colour stays for the remainder.

The flavours are precise and definite, while the aftertaste rewards attention: it is a quiet "bookishness" that very much appeals to my sensibilities. Without full attention, it would slip by unnoticed.

This tea is tenacity redefined: in colour, aroma, and flavour, there is little variation over the latter eight infusions that I explored, but it walks a hundred miles. It is not a complex tea, but more fresh and bright than is often found in the sometimes "muddy" shupu genre. The vibrant energy is really quite pronounced, and I wonder if this is attributable to the smaller, younger leaves used in its creation.

The high compression is definitely on its side for the endurance, and doesn't appear to hinder the release of flavour. This one almost drives itself.

Even after ten infusions, I was enjoying a spicy raisin aroma and full flavour - with that aftertaste that slides quietly through the nose without fanfare, but which is worth observing.

Xiaomao and I surprised ourselves with this tea, as we decided to get a brick for ourselves despite a previous "no more shupu" mandate of a few weeks back. Very decent. I can see, if one is in a rush, this tea would seem very ordinary. It pays to keep an eye on this one.

...and if I close my eyes, I'm back at Mass again, with the incense and flowers...


Anonymous said...

per usual, you are at the avant-garde of tea photography. I have been searching for a really large tea ocean for a while, my I ask where you found yours?


Hobbes said...

Hi there,

Thanks for post!

The tray is from a dealer in Chengdu, but the manufacturer is Hengtao. Apparently their contact details are:

e-mail: sales@gzhengfu.com
Tel: 020-81544217

You never know, they might do mail-order. :)



Space Samurai said...

I absolutely adore the yixing pot you have pictured at the top of your blog, and I would consider giving you my kidney, should you need one, if you would please tell me where you got it.

MarshalN said...

I think I have basically the same tea sea, but with a darker wood. Is the tea sea with a plastic tray that collects the water?

Hobbes said...


Hold onto that kidney - the pot is available from YS for a trifling $15, or thereabouts. Scott is very fair with his pricing, and his descriptions: it's a robust pot, and won't win any pottery competitions, but is highly pleasant to use. The pouring action is prompt (unmatched in our collection, except the Xishi pot from Teamasters), and the lid fits well. Well worth a look.


Spot on, it sounds like you've the same. The tray slides out from underneath. I didn't fancy having a piece of rubber tubing, as seems to be popular - it's a bit too... modern. :)

How do you treat your tray? We're *just about* to test out some linseed oil on it (underneath, to start with). I don't want to neglect it, as it's a decent tray.



~ Phyll said...

If you notice the photographs under my Tenbu/Fuka post on my blog, my similar tray to yours is showing signs of neglect and use. The wood is losing some color and white inner wood is showing here and there. I think I will need to refinish it with a common household furniture finish, which is available at any home improvement store. This should add a good degree of water resistability, too.

Tofu Miso said...

Hi Hobbes , did you purchase a brick back in 2007 ? If you did and have not drunk any in the last couple of years , I recommend you revisit . I purchased two bricks about five years ago . Had a couple of sessions when it first arrived . Then basically forgot about it until about two or three weeks ago . Quite a transformation has taken place ! It now has a lovely calm aged flavour - old wood , books , camphor - and a nice qi . Most impressive for a shu ! Very nice for every day drinking now that the weather has changed .

Hobbes said...

Dear Tofu Miso,

While I didn't buy this particular shupu, I have been very much enjoying both an old shupu of mine that we have stored at my wife's family home in China, and a lovely shupu from white2tea. Just as you wrote, the chill autumn weather makes shupu immensely appealing. I was up at 4.30 a.m. yesterday, huddled over my teatable in the pre-dawn gloom, enjoying a ruby-red shupu.



Tofu Miso said...

Hi Hobbes , which shupu from white2tea are you enjoying ?

Hobbes said...

Dear Tofu Miso,

I'm enjoying the 2003 Fuhai 7576!