Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mid 80's Golden White Needle Shupu MengHai Factory

Golden White Needle Shupu from the MengHai Factory has definitely become one of my favorite ripe puerhs. The quality of the MengHai GWN, when compared to other big factory fare seems always to surpass my expectation -- it provides an artful balance between quality and price.

Being 20 years or more, I wasn't expecting too much in regards to aroma or longevity. After a few years of storage, it has been my experience that shupu rarely if ever will undergo a miraculous transition. Granted, shupu will get better with some age in terms of its mellowness, but for the most part there is no real advantage in aging shupu past 5 or 10 years. Why you ask? As a consequence of artificial fermentation the harshness which we find in young sheng has been for the most part lost or destroyed. Simply put, why age something that is already meant to emulate aged tea?

That said, shupu will never in my humble opinion be an "on par" replacement to sheng. This is not to say that there are not some fantastic shupu on the market with wonderful and vibrant flavors; indeed there are. Yet, shupu in my humble opinion does not generate the same romance of aged sheng which can only be achieved with time.

Initial Impressions

The leaves were wonderfully intact with virtually no breakage. Lovely color with no sign of infestation. The aroma was very woody and laced with a non-offensive dampness. The leaves correspond to a a higher grade when compared to your quintessential shupu. Overall, nice.

Brewing Parameters

Amount - 6g

Brewing vessel - Porcelain Gaiwan

Water Source - Natural Spring MI

Infusion times

1st - 30s
2nd - 20s
3rd - 45s
4th - 60s
5th - 75s
6th - 85s

Brewing Session

Aroma - The aroma corresponded with the dry aroma - very woody and pungent. There was and abundance of dampness, yet not offense. The dankness of the brew became sweet after the 4th infusion. More notes of wet hay and wood were revealed. For the most part, very typical for shupu.

Liquor - The liquor was wonderfully dark. A nice coffee hue and clear. Amazingly clear for shupu. Very sweet and comfortable down the the throat and in the earlier infusions, quite viscous. The woody notes were also quite apparent in the brew which and an amusing spiciness. All in all, not a disappointment.

Overall Impressions

The brew was nice, unfortunately, the age may have affected the longevity of the brew in regards to its flavors. Though aging shupu for a few years may benefit a shupu, IMHO, anything longer than 5-10 years, may actually negate the effects we strive for in a good shupu since most of the aging process has taken place during artificial fermentation. Nonetheless, the age provide for a very uncomplicated brew.


Brandon said...

Hi Bill,
Can you tell us how you came about this tea? I would love to get some more.

Bret said...

Hey Bill, I agree with you in that shu needs some time to mellow out a bit, like you said, five or so years. Ive adopted the stance that shu and sheng shouldn't even be compared, they are apples and oranges. Glad to hear from you again, it's been a while.

Bill said...

Hello Brandon,

Unfortnately, this was a sample I purchased a few months back when it was available at Houde. I just managed lose it find it again! Lucky me!

Bret, Yes, I totally agree, different animals all together. Yes, its great to be back.


Alex said...

Hey Bill, I thought of your blog tonight. I'm glad to see you're still at it :)

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Lelia said...

Thanks for the beautiful pictures which illustrated your review of this tea. I appreciate your clear and easy to understand description and review.

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Dan Jones said...

Very informative. Thank you for sharing.

Jakarta Hotel said...

Nice tea! And thanks for sharing.

Nickd305 said...

This is Nick (ImmortaliTEA) from teachat and I realize this is very late but I just read this post and felt compelled to comment. When I was first asking Tim which Shu Pu's he drinks at all, he said that he doesn't like them very much, however, he said because the White Needle Golden Lotus is only a 20% Shu/ 80% Sheng blend, he often enjoys it much more than other "Shu". So my question is do you still feel it is worthless to age a Shu if in fact it is a blend with a significantly higher percentage of Sheng leaves? Just curious and always wondered if this fact is why most people consider it the best Shu (or if it should even be considered Shu with only 20% Shu leaves in the blend).

Online Tea Addict said...

I like the tea liquor picture. It's funny as it looks like there are three little fishes swimming in it ;)