One of the oldest and least-appreciated factories, Kunming is a maker of magic, from time to time. I recall the 1998 Kunming Zhongchapai, which I snaffled for the arrythmia-inducing sum of 280 RMB / cake in Maliandao, during a visit in 2011. That was not exalted tea, but it was darned fine. This article is about a second tea from that same stable.
The 1995 "9016 Shutuo" is, as its name suggests, tuocha made from shupu. This is not the usual format. Equally unusual is the fact that the shupu in question was seemingly made from leaves of a particularly decent quality - shupu is usually composted with leaves of a lesser quality, the reasoning being (perhaps quite sensibly) that one wouldn't wish to use laoshu maocha in a compost heap.
The result is that this 9016 is regarded within some circles as being a "benchmark" for shupu. Taste the 9016, it is said, and you have something with which to compare all future shupu: if the tea in question is better than the benchmark, then you can buy it with confidence. The opportunity to try the benchmark, provided generously by Peter of pu-erh.sk, was gratefully received.
There is not a huge amount that can be written about this shutuo, except for the fact that it is very (very) good shupu. It genuinely surprised me with its strength, with its thickness of body, and with its throaty and enduring sweetness. Its quality sticks out like a sore thumb, in a world awash with terrible shupu. I absolutely loved this sample, and was thrilled to enjoy it over several days. It lasted that long: it just kept going, and going - and going, and going. In fact, I ran out of steam before it did. After goodness knows how many litres of good tea produced from the same small set of leaves, I eventually called it quits and emptied my teapot. This little beast is remarkable.
At 99 Euro / 250g at pu-erh.sk, it isn't inexpensive, but I am seriously considering it...