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.

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.


Anonymous 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. :)



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. :)



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!