The nice thing about experimenting with an unfamiliar type of tea is that even bad tea can be worth the money for the experience gained. When I bought this from Teaspring, I wasn't expecting much, and when it arrived, and I saw the words "Tourist Type" on the side of the box, I figured I was right not to. Nonetheless, it did indeed prove to be a learning experience.
Yunnan Tuo Cha, Sheng/Green/Raw
Origin: Yunnan, China, Xiaguan Tea Industry
Price: $9.40/12 pieces (36 grams)
The dry leaf aroma is pleasant and what I've come to expect from young sheng, smokey but kind of...fruity, smoked melon, I guess. Each piece is approximately 3 grams, so I used two pieces in a 150 ml gaiwan. My first two sessions with this tea were ultimately unpleasant. Both times it turned harsh quickly, leaving a dry mouth feel by the third infusion; however, today I tried to be more careful with it.
Brewing Parameters: 2 5s rinses, 30s, 45s, 60s, 45s, 45s, 65s.
The first two infusions are weak; the tou cha had not yet separated--probably should start off with a longer infusion time. Kind of smokey. The third infusion: leaves have separated, nice orange liquor, bitter in the back of the throat and tip of the tongue, a hint of what's to come, so I shorten the infusion time. Over all, I was able to keep that dry mouth feel at bay, but the infusions remained bitter, no real flavor or nuances show up. At least none that I can pick out. Today's session was better than the first two, but still failed to produce an enjoyable tea.
The leaves are most bits and pieces; the few larger leaves I found you can see on top.
What did I learn? I know what a bad sheng can taste like. Well, I already knew that, but what I thought I was a bad sheng, turns out to be better than this. I learned, or more accurately, was reminded, that tea demands something from us. The very best tea can produce a dreadful cup in the wrong hands, and even low quality tea can be improved with a little practice. (I gave up looking for it, but I think MarshalN did a post about this, though I'm not trying to suggest I am as experienced or skilled as the men he was talking about).
I also learned that China has lovely stamps.
I wouldn't recommend this tea to anyone, but for my purposes, it was worth the money.