A few weeks ago, I was shaking the water out of my beautiful little 70 ml (an awesome size!) xishi Jianshui clay pot from Crimson Lotus when I lost my grip on the down stroke, and I basically did what amounted to throwing my pot into our porcelain farmer sink in the kitchen with quite a bit of force. As you can imagine, it shattered into many pieces. These are wonderfully crafted pots, and I highly recommend them. I don’t recommend slamming them onto hard surfaces. :-( I immediately ordered another pot, and included with the replacement pot was a sample of 2013 Lucky Cloud shou pu’erh. Hopefully this “lucky cloud” will shade me for awhile, so I don’t ruin any more teaware. The sample provided was high quality, outer edge cake, nearly completely intact with very little loose tea leaves.
Smooth and creamy is how Crimson Lotus describes this shou pu’erh, and that is an accurate description. This would make an excellent daily drinker, and I think it would appeal to many new shou pu’erh tea drinkers, and maybe some experienced ones, as well, depending on what taste profile is desired.
Dry leaf aroma was earthy, leaf pile, and subtle. It required getting the nose right on the leaves to pick up any aroma. Wet leaf smell is classic shou pu’erh — earthy, mulchy, life pile, forest floor.
I brewed this in a very small ~50 ml porcelain gaiwan. One rinse with boiling water, another quick rinse with just off the boil water, and a first steep of 10 seconds. Liquor was dark brown on the first steep. First infusion was mellow and so smooth. No bitterness. No astringency. No fishiness. No throat feeling. Very little aftertaste. Mouth remained wet. Faintly sweet.
Second infusion was for 30 seconds. Liquor now very dark brown with some slight redness. Taste remained much the same.
Third infusion was also for 30 seconds. Liquor remained the same dark, reddish brown. Taste changed to sweeter and some maltiness.
Four infusion of 40 seconds has more sweetness. I’m getting a small amount of mild mouth drying after about a minute. Astringency and perhaps some bitterness (if that’s your thing) may be able to be pulled from this shou pu’erh with long infusions. I’m on the fence on trying it, because it is so good in this mellow form. Oh what the heck, let’s go for it.
Fifth infusion. 3 mins. I’m surprised. I thought it would be more bitter and astringent, but this is the 5th infusion. It’s there. There is some astringency at first on the back of my tongue and then the front of the tongue as some time passes after each sip, but it isn’t a strong, chalky drying action. It is slight. Bitterness is so slight at this longer infusion, it’s hardly worth mentioning. The maltiness is still there.
Sixth infusion. 45 seconds. Color of liquor now a medium brown and I can see the bottom of my teacup. Sweet, mineral, no bitterness, no astringency, mild earthy note, no maltiness now in the later infusions if the steeping time is kept short.
So, I said that I think this would appeal to new shou pu’erh drinkers, and some experienced drinkers. This shou pu’erh is a very good drinking tea. It has no negative qualities. For some experienced drinkers, I think there is often the desire to find something unusual and new, layers of complexity, even if some of those layers aren’t what one would normally think of as delicious traits. This tea delivers a smooth and delicious shou pu’erh experience that remains predictably consistent across many infusions. It is tolerant of wide steeping parameters. I experienced no chi, no increase or decrease of body temperate, and had no visions, but I consider myself lucky to have started my day with the delicious Lucky Cloud.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Earth, Forest Floor, Mineral, Sweet