27 June, 2007

2006 Xiaguan Tuocha Shupu

Scouring the Chinese shops in the Turin Chinatown, scraping by on my very poor Mandarin (in preference to my yet worse Italian), I found a pile of boxed tuocha selling for virtually nothing ($4 each). Just for fun, I thought I'd grab one and see if it's worth buying one or two more.

After buying the tea, I headed to the conference social event, which took place in the vaulted underground space underneath one of the city landmarks. Happily, there was a long, chrome bar running its full length. As if thrown back to the world of Austin Powers, all of the tables were illuminated from the inside, as were the chairs - and the colours slowly cycled.



Sadly, my entirely inadequate Mandarin skills prevented me from finding out which year this tuocha was produced, but it's most likely to be a 2006. I since found an Italian boutique tea-shop selling something similar, for a little more money, which was all 2006. It costs nearly nothing, at $4/box, and so my expectations are limited!

The box is CNNP, and the wrapper is labelled "Yunnan Province Xiaguan" - let's see what they've managed.

Turin tap-water @ 100C in 9cl gaiwan; ~5-6g leaf; 2 rinses

Dry leaves:
Short and dark, and scented like every other average shupu in the world - of which there are many.

6s, 12s, 30s, 90s:
Odd-looking infusion times, no? They reflect my efforts to try and get something amusing out of this tea.

It starts off generic enough, with a sweet aroma. The soup is surprisingly clean, and a good orange-red. There is a truly extraordinary mintiness to the flavour. Other flavours are almost absent, save a background-hum of standard shupu.

Doubling the infusion time from 6s to 12s, and the tea is still light, fresh, and thoroughly minty. There is absolutely no bitterness, nor huigan. I step it up to 30s, and then triple it to 90s - pretty dangerous for a fourth infusion! Still, after such immense overbrewing, the tea remains muted, mediocre, and minty.

Wet leaves:
Tippy and small with a few whole leaves, the grade is fairly decent. I wonder if Xiaguan are still boxing up "export-grade" leaves in this way. Some leaves stand out as being quite green, reminding me of a shengpu/shupu blend that VL showed to me recently.

Overall:
It costs nearly nothing and is worth every penny. Again, this backs up my prejudice against modern-day CNNP. I'd be surprised if this were truly Xiaguan Factory, unless they've got into the habit of producing ultra-mediocre quality produce for foreign export.

The ability of this tea to remain unchanged and generic despite massive overbrewing is as startling as its mintiness.

5 comments:

davelcorp said...

Based on the smiles on your faces, and the bare plates, I am guessing that the night's activities focused more on the libations. I'm also guessing that you had quite a bit of fun, due to the lack of posting today.

Hope you are recovering well.

ps. is that a bookstore behind the drapery?

Hobbes said...

G'day, Dr. Dave,

Do you ever come across culture-clashes with southern Europeans? They seem very different in outlook to northern Europeans, and I imagine Americans too. In a good way, I should add.

For example, at a social night, they'll have an "open bar". Italians, Spanish, southern French - all drinking slowly, politely, and then they're off to bed by 10.30. Nice and elegant.

Come 1 a.m., and it's always the "barbarians and vikings" left: Germans, British, Dutch, Belgian, Scandinavian - particularly Finnish. You almost have to step over the inebriated profs on the way out. It's an interesting way to do "business".

I think that's the building's shop in the background (given that the pictured event was held in the city's big landmark - the Mole Antonella). Amazingly, it remained untouched throughout the night, and was protected only by a thin, silk curtain. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

P.s. I've been enjoying some 2004 Changtai Yiwu since returning home, courtesy of your partner-in-crime, Dr. Mike. More on that later.

Michel said...

It's a french export shu tuocha, the stuff I've drank more than 200 of in the past -my first pu ehr. .

teajar.blogspot (too bad about the french lingo)

Hobbes said...

Salut Michel,

I just came across your blog this morning, by sheer coincidence. Is the price similarly low in France? They're 3 Euro here - and probably not worth even that. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Michel said...

They are About 5 euros, and only to be drunk if you are poor or can't find your credit card! not bad and reinfuses but that is it. I love the '7o's packaging though!