Today’s tea is an amazing treat – the 2000 “Old Warrior” from Crimson Lotus Tea. This is such a treat because good, old shou is hard to come by. There are some good aged shous that I’ve had, but this one promises to be special.
Old Warrior is a shou puerh (熟 – shou, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into a melon shape (金瓜 – jingua; literally “golden melon”). The dry leaves are very flaky and pretty easy to pry off of the pressed form.
I did a short rinse of this tea. Since it’s older, you might dump it out, but I always drink the rinses unless the tea looks sketchy. I find that tasting the rinse from a shou gives you some hidden storage notes that you might not get in full steeps. This rinse reveals mild humidity and a traditional storage along with some underlying sweetness. Based on the rich brown color, you can just tell that this tea is going to be good.
Note on traditional storage: I’ve seen a lot of differing opinions on storage, but to me, traditional storage is “wet storage” (more humidity) for several years followed by “dry storage” (less humidity). In the tea’s early steeps, you can taste this humidity, but it quickly fades after the first few steeps. This usually indicates that the tea has aged in a drier climate after the first few years of humidity. In my personal opinion, this is my favorite type of storage for aged puerh, sheng or shou.
Steeps One through Four – The first steep was for 10 seconds and yielded a myriad of wonderful aged shou flavors – dark wood, sweetness, and a subtle ripe cherry note. I did notice a slight bitterness on the back of the tongue. The next two steeps (20 and 30 seconds, respectively) were just as delicious. Deep aged, clean shou taste that when you taste it, you just know how special it is. Building to steep four, the heart of the session, it’s clear that this tea underwent a lighter fermentation, meaning that some of the material was still green when originally pressed, allowing the tea to age in a different and more complex way.
Finishing the Session
I’m just going to stop here. Words can’t quite explain the depth or longevity of this tea. If you’ve ever had a really good aged shou, I would challenge you to try this tea and see if you don’t have a new favorite by the end of the day. For 20 cents per gram, you really can’t beat the quality. This tea steeps for days. I think I gave up around 18 steeps. Everything in this tea is completely on point for me – fermentation, storage, and flavor. I can only think of two other great shous that rank up with this one. Maybe one day I’ll have a triple threat match with all three of them. As long as the old warrior doesn’t get me first.
Until the next cup.