I'm back! Sorry for my long hiatus, but don't worry, I have a bunch of notes all set to go, so it's just a matter of organizing them into reviews and taking a couple pictures. Also, for those of you who aren't familiar with the little Teacuppa tea tasting thing that's going on, I suggest looking up Hobbes' The Half-Dipper, as he is the driving force behind the whole thing, and explains this much more eloquently than I ever could.
You might also notice that these are my first puerh reviews on Tea Nerd, so a great deal of history is being made! I should point out that I have very little experience with puerh, so my misguided fumblings are likely not very accurate or representative of the teas themselves. Anyway, without further ado, I present the first three samples, which are all shupu (cooked puerh).
4.5g leaf; 90mL gaiwan; 8s wash, 15s, 20s, 20s, 35s, 45s.
There is something awry with this sample. It smells like a wet log (I'm guessing this is the imfamous "pondy" smell/taste), but the most disconcerting part was the feel of the bit of cake I had. It felt unusually pliable, perhaps even a little wet. All in all, weird.
1: Light color, good clarity. Tastes pondy, slightly sour (not necessarily bad sour). Little malt or grain.
2: Slightly darker color, but still light. Still good clarity. Pretty much unchanged flavor.
3: About the same as before. Perhaps just a touch fruity?
4: Darker color. Little has changed in terms of flavor, though.
5: Darker again. Very pondy, not too pleasant.
Perhaps I didn't use enough leaf, which may explain the thin body and light color, but honestly I think I'm glad I didn't. There was nothing I really liked about this tea. For the most part, it just tasted like pond, or wet vegetation. Also, the pliability of the cake was a bit odd, and had me put off from the beginning. Overall, a 2/10.
4.5g leaf; 90mL gaiwan; 10s wash, 15s, 20s, 20s, 30s.
Mostly loose, some intact bits of cake. Not strangely pliable like sample A, which is a good thing. Has some wet log / pond aroma, but not as bad as sample A. Some maltiness (though not much), which was nice.
1: Assam-like color, decent clarity. Some pond flavor, some malt/grain. I'm not sure if this is right... but I think I can taste a hint of camphor.
2: Darker color, but still not *that* dark. Thicker mouth-feel, pretty much same flavor.
3: Same color, stronger pond flavor. Medium-thin liquor.
4: Darker color, more pond. Not worth pursuing any further.
Though not as awful as sample A, this is still pretty bad. There was a lot of pond/wet log flavor, and nothing really enjoyable except a tiny bit of maltiness. The only things making this sample better than sample A are the better cake texture and the better aroma. A 2.5/10.
5.1g leaf; 90mL gaiwan; 8s wash, 18s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 50s.
Some pond smell, a little sweet honey-like aroma. Tight looking cake, relative to the other two samples. Not pliable like sample A.
1: Thin, boring. A bit woody, a bit pondy, not much else. Not as smooth as samples A and B. Nice astringency, but not quite what I seem to like in shupu (from my limited experiences).
2: Darker, smoother, but same flavors.
3: Same as previous infusion, with a nice cooling sensation on the tongue.
4: Lighter; probably needs more time in the next infusion. A bit sharp and off-tasting, though.
5: Overwhelmingly pondy and not pleasant.
Not as offensive as sample A, but quite boring. Probably not as enjoyable as sample B, but close enough to earn a 2.5/10 as well.
Frankly, I was pretty disappointed by these samples. It is entirely possible that I brewed them wrong or don't have the trained palatte needed to review these, but I am quite sure that these are not the "cream of the crop" as far as shupu goes. As for the identification portion... the three cakes are 2005 CNNP Shupu, 2005 Luxi 8821 Shupu, and 2005 Menghai Tiandiren Shupu. I have no idea what the three could be, so I'm going to hedge my bets and guess the following:
A: 2005 CNNP Shupu
B: 2005 CNNP Shupu
C: 2005 CNNP Shupu
No, I do not think they are identical samples, but this way I am confident that one of my guesses will be correct. Lame? Yes. Statistically sound? I think so.
Stay tuned for the Teacuppa shengpu sample reviews, and a couple other teas I've tasted outside of the Teacuppa event. I haven't tasted the three shengpu samples yet, but I will soon, I promise!