So… I am reliably (I hope) informed that this is held as a ‘standard example’ for daily drinker shou (or shu?) devotees. I also hear that you’re meant to break these cakes up and let them sit for a few weeks to bring out the character. Which… I haven’t done.
So, I have some in a jar (I bought a stack of 5), but here are my first impressions:
It was also recommended to brew this ‘strong’ so I did a 1:10 ratio (9g in a 90ml pot).
First infusions start out thick, smooth and creamy. The flavour isn’t what I’d describe as strong (coming from sheng) . Very little bitterness. Very ‘approachable’.
High viscosity in the mouth. It’s still a bit flat on flavour. Later infusions (from steep 4 onward) are still buttery on the tongue and have mild bitter cocoa in addition to the milky mouthfeel. Wet leaves smell mildly of malt or dried apricot.
The smell on the bottom of the cup has brown sugar, but it isn’t really present in the taste.
This is quite savoury. I don’t detect any sweetness or woody / earthy flavours. Just a pleasant ‘wholemeal’ bread and subtle minerality. It’s a rich mellow ‘tea’ taste reminiscent of a savoury malted bun.
Weirdly after a few steeps one flavour that comes to mind is the pulpy inside of a banana peel. That very slight bitterness.
I’ll let the other tuo chill and breathe in the jar and we’ll try again in a few weeks. Not bad so far.
I can see why people could use this as a coffee replacement in the mornings. It is somewhat reminiscent of an Americano (espresso and hot water) if a little smoother.
People who like a nice milky English Breakfast tea might also enjoy it, to be honest, it tastes like it might be nice with milk/sugar (blasphemy I know).
As someone who’s used to drinking sheng, this is completely different stuff. Less complex and in a way less interesting, but nice in its own way.
3-star tea for now.
I’d recommend it and it’s cheap enough (right now) to say it’s worth a try. I can understand why people enjoy it. I’ll update if there are any big changes with the jarred broken tuo.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Toast, Butter, Cocoa, Creamy