December 9, 2010

The Taming Of The Shu

Isn't that a corny title? Well, at least it's appropriate for the issue at hand. 2006 is the year that Menghai won the Gold Award for the V93 tuocha, and this is the same tea from the same year. I had bought these when they first became available (six years ago) and they have been in storage ever since. Still available (here) but at about twice the price they sold for when first released.

Menghai still sets the standard when it comes to cooked puerh, you really can't beat em. Although there are shu's from other company's that are well on their way to challenging Menghai's position. The world is full of average quality, mediocre shu and it can be a bit of a challenge to find the good stuff. But once the goods have been procured, it needs to go into storage for at least several years to mellow. At five years of age this tea has (in my opinion) reached it's potential. Well, maybe another year or two of clean, dry storage would bring further improvements but for the most part it's good to go.

I,m not a subscriber to the "older is better" school of thought when it comes to cooked puerh. Shu definitely needs it's storage time but it can't stand up to the lengthy storage time that a raw puerh needs. In my opinion, shu reaches it's potential within a five to ten year time span and then starts to fade and loose it;s flavor. The handful of shu's Ive had that were older than ten years were not very good, they were bland and boring.

The color of the dry leaf is exactly what I want to see, a nice healthy caramel brown with some red and gold bit's here and there. Not the dull, monochromatic shades of muck you,ll find in lesser teas.

What I really like about the V93 recipe is it's cleanliness in the cup. It's not one of those heavy, sludge like shu's. It's flavors and aroma's are woodsy, rich and nutty with a caramel like sweetness.  What also sets it apart from the others is the crisp and clean aspects it brings to the cup. It brews up a deep amber cup with sparkling clarity.

Easily brews ten to fifteen infusions, which is a bit much even for me. Autumn and Winter is the only time of year I drink cooked puerh, any other season and the flavors are too much for my palate. But in the cold of Winter it's very satisfying.


  1. I do not typically drink shu, but I must say that photo of the tou made the tea look so attractive. It looks less like a typical shu and much more like an Aged Raw tea, as the leaves are more brown almost slightly bronze in color compared to the near black most shu seems to have.

    I may have to try and get a sample of this to see if it would change my opinion of Shu.

  2. Hey Adam,

    Like you, I,m just not that into shu. The main point of this post was to demonstrate that they are not all the same. Among the tons of crap shu's out there, there are some good ones. The V93 isn't the only good one, there are many.

    I think one of the main problems with shu is the brewing parameters. They do need two good rinses before they are ready to drink. Also, the brewing times need to be adjusted. The first infusion is a guage for further infusions. The second and third brew times should be very quick, ten seconds is generally plenty. After the 3rd to 4th infusion you can start to extend the times.

    I'd be happy to send you a sample of this tea but it may not get in the mail for a couple of weeks, very busy with work and the holidays etc. But, email me your address and I,ll get some on the way, probably later than sooner.

  3. I like the title; it may be corny but you have to take some credit for wittiness! =)

    This is random, but one thing I find highly amusing about the label on this cake is that it looks for a second like it's going to read "Puerto Rico", where it says PUERTUOCHA.

  4. Alex,

    I had never thought about it before but your right, now that you have mentioned it I,m not sure I,ll ever be able to look at it again and not see Puerto Rico.