Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yunnan Tuo Cha "Tourist Type"

First, if you are like me, new or inexperienced with puerh, Houde's Anatomy of Puerh is a great place to start for information.

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
Year: 2005
Price: $9.40/12 pieces (36 grams)
Vendor: Teaspring

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.


Mary R said...

If only for the stamps, it was a worthy endeavor. :)

In all seriousness, though, I'm starting to think that an occasional bad tea is actually a good thing for us. Not to go all mystic-zen, but I think it helps us appreciate the good stuff even more.

Space Samurai said...

I agree. There's a lot of talk on the forums about which tea is the best, or which vendor has the freshest this or that.

Marshal wrote a post not that long ago talking about benchmark teas, or something, and I was impressed by that. He has so much knowledge, but seems to still posses a certain, I don't know if innocence is the right word, open-mindedness...is that a word? You know what I'm saying, I hope. He seems to just drink the tea and enjoy it for what it is. I like that.

MarshalN said...

I don't have much knowledge --- I just drink a lot of different stuff. I'm never sure if I'm right.

Avoid these small tuocha though, they are nasty stuff... I think they're to puerh what lipton teabags are to red tea :)