08 July, 2013

If the Shu Fits

The Shu is on the Other Foot.

I could go on and on.  The puns, they write themselves.


2005 Tiandiren Shupu


I have a secret love of shupu, although I drink it slightly less than shengpu (95% of my consumption) and hongcha (4.5% of my consumption).

I was contacted by TG, a teachum from back home in my native East Anglia, a place famous for sheep, a lack of electricity, in-breeding, sheep, and once being home to Boadicea and the Iceni tribe. There is also a minor university there of some dubious repute. 

Oddly enough, all those sheep made it the most populated and wealthy of all English provinces at one time, but that was in the medieval era.  Amusingly, my grandfather's farm is mentioned in the Domesday Book of William the Conqueror (1086 a.d.).  The central structure of his farmhouse is three centuries older than the entire nation of the USA.  Suffice to say that East Anglia is a strange old place.


2005 Tiandiren Shupu


Drinking this tea, I was reminded of just how scrumptious shupu can be.


2005 Tiandiren Shupu


The first of two cakes for evaluation today, at the request of TG, is the 2005 Tiandiren from white2tea.

The leaves, pictured below, look red and exhausted.  The blend includes all manner of grades of leaf, including tons of huangpian [yellow flakes].


2005 Tiandiren Shupu


TG was somewhat uncertain as to the quality of these two shupu cakes, and was after a second opinion.  My opinion of this 2005 Tiandiren is that it is pretty solid.

The soup, pictured below, is a watery red - the cake takes its time to get going, and never has very much strength, perhaps because it is simply so mellow.  However, that is in its favour: it is smooth, so very well-rounded, and has the permeating sweetness of a pleasant vanilla throughout it.


2005 Tiandiren Shupu


This is just $22, which is a reasonable price for this stable and pretty, if tired, little shupu.  It makes no great claims, and is therefore very satisfying for such an appropriate price.  As PM writes in his notes at white2tea.com, it has precisely the same character of red Chinese dates.  It is uncanny.

I could drink this slow, tired, humble, but lovely shupu all day.





...and yet time and tide wait for no man.  Instead, we change gear and check out the 2003 Fuhai "7576" cake:


2003 Fuhai 7576 Shupu


At least, I think it is the 2003 - TG's labelling below says otherwise, but I cannot see anything else for sale at white2tea.


2003 Fuhai 7576 Shupu


In contrast with the 2005 Tiandiren, this 2003 Fuhai is much more lively in the appearance of its dry leaves: they are not dusty red, but black, shiny, and alive.


2003 Fuhai 7576 Shupu


The photograph below probably tells you everything you need to know about this cake - and this was from the first infusion...


2003 Fuhai 7576 Shupu


Long, sharp, wood: a fine and strong scent, with significant activity.  This has a charming flavour of sharp camphor, and is excellent.  I should have a cake or two for my office: it is strong and herbal, yet soothing.

So very dark, like date soup... this is fantastic shupu: undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable that I have had - a real suprise, which has changed my tea session.


2003 Fuhai 7576 Shupu


I love its potency, its sharpness, and, above all, the dense warmth that settles on the stomach with all of the soothing characteristics of a hot-water bottle.  It is charming, and I must have some.


2003 Fuhai 7576 Shupu


This 2003 Fuhai sells for $37, which is a decent price.  As PM notes, it is already a decade old, and yet I think it has some potency that could allow it to settle even further.  I admire its simple balance of straightforward shupu warmth with just a little energy and kuwei remaining from its original state.  A comforting treat.

In summary, I would encourage TG to enjoy both of these cakes!  I certainly did.

7 comments:

Tofu Miso said...

How would you describe the mouth feel and body of the Fuhai ?

Hobbes said...

Dear Tofu Miso,

I seem to remember being quite impressed, given that this was shupu...

Now, however will I manage to remind myself to buy some?


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Cody Turner said...

Thank you for doing some reviews of some pu's that everyday people can afford. I absolutely love reading your blog over a pot and enjoying your words. You, sir, are an extremely talented writer and reviewer.(I realize this blog is for you but know that it helps tremendously for people who are new to Pu-erh, such as myself.)

_Cody

PS. Have you thought about doing a top 5-10 budget puerh's for people wanting to try and buy with confidence?

Hobbes said...

Dear Cody,

That's very kind of you - I'm delighted to read that you're finding this humble site moderately useful. :)

The blog was originally set up with the intention of being an electronic version of my tea-notes, and in that sense rather insular, but also a place to chat with like-minded souls, and in that regard I hope that you find it to have some value. Certainly, it is a constant pleasure for me to "meet" likeminded folk from around the world with whom I would otherwise have no contact.

I am often asked for such a ranking, and invariably shy away from attempting to produce an ordered list of "good teas", given the subjective nature of our tastes. That said, there are a few clear winners that crop up from time to time. I've currently been enjoying the 2012 range from Yunnan Sourcing and the 2012 range from Pu-erh.sk, both of which are reliable and inexpensive, and offer samples for you to "try before you buy" (as is essential). Watch this space for some "picks" from those ranges, and whichever others I happen to stumble across. :)

I try not to be too devoted to any particular merchants, but YS and Pu-erh.sk do a consistently good job, among many others.


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Hobbes said...

Gah! Paul has sold all of his tongs of the Fuhai already. I was far too slow.

You people suck, and I mean that in a complimentary way!


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Dragoran said...

Well, darn. I have a cake of the Fuhai at home (ordered it before it became popular, like the hipster I am), and was almost certainly planning on picking up at least another. Now I'll have to go through mine much more slowly than previously planned.

Hobbes said...

Dear Dragoran,

The nice thing about shupu is that there's always another good cake of it just around the corner. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes