At the very bottom of the wodui [moisten pile] fermentation heap used to "cook" shupu, the high pressure and high heat give rise not quite so much to diamonds, as to tough little nuggets. These charming little lumps are exceedingly inexpensive ($28/Kg from Tuochatea, for example) and make for a somewhat unusual experience.
Many thanks to the infinite splendours of
The tou in "chatou" means "little piece", and is also the word for "head". I was long familiar with the term kowtow, for example, referring to the famous Oriental prostration, without knowing that it was Chinese, with the latter syllable being tou in modern Pinyin. It just goes to show what you don't know you know.
Scottish Mountain @ 100C in 10cl shupu pot; ~5-8g leaf; 2 rinses
Small rounded nuggets, these charming little items are a dusty brown, and smell of the somewhat salty fresh-shupu aroma.
5s, 7s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 40s, 60s, >90s:
Deep burgundy soup gives the immediate impression that I have overbrewed. CB's description of overbrewed young shupu as "burning tyres" springs to mind. Alas, no tyre! Merely the rich scent of currants and sultanas, with some maltiness, and a touch of saltiness.
Though the colour is strong, and the character is rich, this tea is confoundingly mellow: it is "worn out" in the most lovely way, like a faded painting.
Saltiness fades after an infusion or two, transmuting into an enjoyable creaminess. What a curiousity is this eroded leaf!
It remains stable and enjoyable right until the end, without any sign of cracking apart as poor shupu is wont to do.
Small shreds of black leaves, there is little to be seen.
What an experience: it has the potent power of young leaf, evinced in its caffeine content, and rich aroma, and yet the flavour is so well-eroded and muted (presumably by the intensity of its "cooking").
It is rather wabi-sabi, in that it contains a beautiful simplicity with a humble, worn, threadbare character.
I cannot see myself ever getting through an entire kilogram of this tea, but it does make for a fascinating experience. It is warming (medicinally speaking) and enjoyable, if steady and uncomplicated.
One for the shupu-tolerant, of course - but worth trying a little taste, if only for your own palate's sake.
You can read Geraldo's ever-excellent notes on this same tea (in comparison with a Menghai chatuo) within the leather-bound comfort of Chadao.