Friday, June 01, 2007

Teacuppa Tea Tasting Part 2: Shengpu

To close the Teacuppa tasting, I present three shengpu samples, identified as D, E, and F. I am even worse at tasting shengpu than I am at tasting shupu, so I suggest that you consider my stumbling as more of an entertainment piece than an informational one.

Puerh D Dry LeafPuerh D:


4.7g leaf; 90mL gaiwan; boiling tap water; 7s wash, 10s, 10s, 12s, 15s, 12s, 13s, 14s

Dry Leaf:

Quite loose, like all the shengpu samples. Fairly light-colored leaves. None of the samples had enough aroma to really comment on, possibly because of the plastic baggies they have been sitting in.

Tasting Notes:

1: Some astringency, some smokiness. Nice body.

Puerh D Liquor2: Less astringency, otherwise similar to first infusion.

3: Slightly floral, perhaps. A bit more bitterness than before.

4: Even more bitterness.

5: Slightly floral again, softer astringency, and better body. Has a sweet taste not found in earlier infusions.

6: Similar to 5th infusion, but smoother.

7: Similar to 6th infusion, a bit weaker.

Puerh D Wet LeafWet Leaf:

Decent-looking leaves, but not as pretty as some other pictures I've seen. There were a good number of whole leaves, and they felt nicely tender.

Overall Impressions:

Drinkable, but pretty boring and unchanging. I don't know if this is what everyone calls energy or "cha qi," but I did feel a bit light-headed after the session. Overall, I'd give this a 3/10.

Puerh E Dry LeafPuerh E:


4.6g leaf; 90mL gaiwan; boiling tap water; 8s wash, 7s, 8s, 9s, 9s, 10s

Dry Leaf:

Darker leaves than sample D. Lots and lots of twigs and stems, which is even more noticable in the wet leaf. Loose leaf, doesn't seem like there was much compression involved.

Puerh E InfusionTasting Notes:

1: Very smoky tasting, and a bit sour (not a bad sour, though). Smooth, but boring.

2: Almost a creamy flavor. More astringent than the first infusion.

3: Similar to second infusion, less astringent.

Puerh E Wet Leaf 14: Thinner body, but still smooth. A bit of a grain flavor, which I enjoyed.

5: Same as 4th infusion, with a harsher sour note.

Wet Leaf:

As you can see, there are many, many stems here. The leaf pictured isn't exactly representative-- this was the biggest one I could find. Most of the leaves were largely intact, and often attached to their stems.Puerh E Wet Leaf 2

Overall Impressions:

I'm no expert, but I thought this tea was actually okay. Not great, mind you, but not as bad as the other samples I've tried in this tea tasting. The creamy taste I thought I tasted was refreshingly different. Overall, this tea gets a 4/10.

Puerh F Dry LeafPuerh F:


5.0g leaf; 90mL gaiwan; boiling tap water; 7s wash, 8s, 8s, 10s, 10s

Dry Leaf:

The best looking leaves of this tasting event, in my opinion. Nice colors, and fewer stems than sample E.

Tasting Notes:

1: Fruity aroma, smells like plums. Tastes similarly plum-like, which is somewhat enjoyable. Slightly bitter though, and otherwise boring. There is a slight cooling sensation on the tongue.

Puerh F Infusion2: Fruity sweetness, but very sour. Aside from the sourness though, fairly smooth texture.

3: Overwhelming sourness masks everything else.

4: Similar to 3rd infusion, even more sourness.

Wet Leaf:

Mostly broken pieces. The picture here shows the fullest leaves I could find, which as you can see is not stellar.

Puerh F Wet LeafOverall Impressions:

I had high hopes with the first infusion, especially after the nice fruity hints. However, it quickly turned sour and was almost unpalattable near the end. I'd give this one a 2.5/10.


Though I was disappointed by these samples, I did think they were a little better than the shupu samples in the first part of the tasting. I also have essentially zero experience with shengpu, so who knows.

I have to be honest, my reviews may have been negatively influenced by others' thoughts. I am pretty late in posting these reviews, and I found it difficult to avoid reading other reviews. Still, I did taste each tea before I read about it, so the tasting notes you see here are genuinely mine.

As for guessing which samples are which, I'll play along this time. I'll put them in alphabetical order, because I'm guessing this is the most likely order in which they have been labeled. Thus, my guesses are:

D: 2005 CNNP "Big Blue Mark"
E: 2005 Jiangcheng Yesheng
F: 2005 Simao Yesheng

Anyway, this tea tasting is over, and I have to say I'm glad. While I appreciate Teacuppa's generosity and had a good opportunity to learn about puerh, it was a bit of a chore to taste these. Hobbes has relayed to me that the kind people of Teacuppa purchased their puerh stocks before they had a lot of experience with it, and I think this is quite forgivable— I don't think I could do any better anyway. They also sent out a free sample of Rou Gui, which wasn't half bad, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.


tb. said...

I don't think your tasting notes were bad at all - any perspective is a good perspective, regarding tea at least. Anyway, sheng is tough to figure out until you quite literally bathe in it for a while, but I did enjoy reading your thoughts. Thanks!


Bill said...

Hey, I am happy you and I identified the pu-erhs the same. It will be interesting to see if we guessed right!

Mary R said...

I second TB, I liked your tasting notes just fine. :) It's nice to hear the bit about TeaCuppa purchasing these before they had much experience in puerh. I had wondered how well they had researched that aspect--especially as a lot of the English in that section of their page is fragmentary compared to the others.

What did you think of the Rou Gui? I got an Oriental Beauty sample instead. I need to try that. Where did I put it?

Ugh...should not try to think when sleep-deprived.

Salsero said...

I second Mary's inquiry into the Rou Gui and encourage her to report on her Bai Hao, as I seek more knowledge about Oriental Beauty.

Also, while I'm at it, I third TB.

As was Mary, I also was pleased to hear there is some excuse in the offing by TeaCuppa. Otherwise, I'd have to say their's was the single least successful marketing ploy in the history of tea!

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