I am full of Indian food! Ben's parents are back from their summer home for a bit for a wedding and other events, so they took us out for food. I'm actually finishing this post up from my phone since next we are off to visit local friends of theirs. Ben and I were amused because the two of us are pooped, mostly because different schedules, but his parents want to party! So atypical!
'Tis the season for Shou! Well almost, late summer through til spring for me means drinking the ripe stuff, mostly because it is notorious for heating up the body and the last thing I want is extra internal heat when I am already suffering summer's warmth. I spend all summer craving it, sneaking in sessions on cooler nights to quench my cravings, one of those nights I enjoyed MeiMei Fine Teas' 2006 Yi Wu Shu Pu'erh Tea Cake Tong Qing Hao. With a decade's worth of age on it there is no fear of the headache inducing pile aroma/taste, and being from Yiwu it promises that region's sweetness which is always appreciated. The aroma has the classic shou notes of earthy peat and loam, with a touch of wet leather, molasses, and a sweet lingering note of very ripe juicy plums. I think this might be the first shou I have run into with a strong plum note and it works really well with the earthy notes.
After the initial rinse and first steep, the aroma is quite sweet, almost caught me off guard how sweet it is! The wet leaves smell of molasses, honey, caramel, stewed plums and an underlying earthy loam note. It might be one of the least loamy shous I have snuffled! The liquid smells of sweet creamy milk caramel and molasses with a wet leather and gentle loam note.
So, when I started out with this tea I went with my 'molten bowl' a luminous golden wide bowl, expecting a dark inky shou, but no this was a paler shou that practically glowed in the bowl. The tea started out surprisingly strong and thick, I was expecting with such a pale color it would be a gentle build, but the mouthfeel instantly coats my entire mouth with thick almost sticky texture. The tastes are also quite sweet, fruity notes of cooked plums and dark cherries, rich molasses and cocoa, and a creamy almost milky caramel quality. There is a bit of loam, but it does not really show up until the third steep and it is quite light.
The middle steeps bring the earthy notes of loam and rain drenched soil, but it is overshadowed by the sweet notes of cooked plums and cherries with a slight tangy apricot. It very much reminds me of eating fruit on a rainy autumn day with the windows open and the smell of rain kissed earth waft in through the window. I was really pleased with how sweet it is, and light compared to most shous while still being very obviously a shou.
For the latter steeps, the last three, the tea starts to fade fairly noticeably around steep seven and is essentially done by steep nine. The end is all sweetness and gentle fruit, gentle molasses and cooked plums eventually drift off to gentle mineral and faded caramelized sugar. This tea fascinated me, on the one hand I would say this is the most noob friendly shou I have had, none of the rank 'fishy death' of a lot of the shous that people new to puerh get the 'joy' of experiencing (feel the sarcasm) and not an overwhelming earthiness that I have seen a lot of people be put off by. At the same time this tea was wonderful, and I say that as someone who has happily quaffed a bunch of shou. Usually I like to drink this type of tea before sleep since I find it very relaxing and warming (like a hot bath but drinkable! I mean you can drink bathwater, but eww) but something about this one says 'breakfast' to me, probably because it reminded of some of the more fruity Dian Hongs I love. I only wish it would have lasted a bit longer, but sometimes lovely things die too soon, like butterflies.
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.