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.
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...