I drank this tea when it had an age of over 15 years which is considered a good age for a shu pu-erh. It had a full-bodied taste full of earthiness and woody notes, but without any astringency, as expected from a 15 years-old pu-erh.
When I looked at the dry leaves, I thought it could be a sheng (raw) pu-erh. But the tea was too small to draw any conclusions by looking at the colour of the dry leaves. The taste and the liquor colour made me believe that it is a shu. It carried the characteristics of a good shu.
Tuo Cha refers to pu-erh (or other forms of compressed teas) that are in the shape of a bird’s nest. I find the shape very similar to the more common ‘cake’ or ‘bing’. Apart from the mini size of this tea, its hole is proportionally deeper making it look like a dome or a bowl.
When I was in Yunnan, I heard that different tribes press pu-erh into different shapes. For instance, Tuo Cha shape has been invented in Xiaguan Town. I found a fun video showing how mushroom-shaped pu-erh is produced by Bai tribe. The idea was probably that when you see the shape of pu-erh you could tell the tribe or town/village/mountain it came from. However, nowadays any boutique producer can produce pu-erh in any shape they want. I even saw a Toblerone-shaped one, which was brilliant by the way! What is your favouraite shapre for pu-erh?
Harvest time: 2004
Leave colour: Shades of dark brown and maroon
Liquor colour: Clear, dark amber
Tea aroma: Earthy with hints of wood and smokiness
Tea taste: Mellow and slightly sweet
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 100°C water temperature and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.