Sunday, May 20, 2012

Is a shu a shu a shu?

What is the aging potential in shu? I guess one definitely ages shu to get rid of that funky wodui smell.  Of course this doesn't stop vendors from adding the tag line "great for drinking now or put away for further aging". "Aging" promises further magical transformation and not the need for "airing out".  I have ripe pu-erh from 2002 and they do taste smoother and more mellow than younger versions of them selves.  I've read some opinions that even lighter fermented shus don't gain that much more depth in age.

Should one think twice when being asked to pay top dollar for an aged shu?   Most of my shu beengs date from 2001- 2006 when I hastily bought them in 2006 after being unable to drink young shengs without stomach trouble.  I did not love the taste of ripe shu as I did of sheng but I didn't want to stop drinking pu-erh so I forced myself to get a stack of premium ripe Menghai blends(7452,7572,3rd grade) and various obligatory Haiwan Lao tongzhis, as well as some CNNP.  But you can only drink so much shu so now I have a cache of older shu's(7-10yo) which really needs to be drunk. Shu's apparently can go stale and I guess it is true because my 2001 Feng Qing definitely was tastier 4 years ago then it is now. 

Is a shu a shu a shu? I admit there ares horrendous barnyard awful shus,  but is there such a thing as a great shu?  Is anyone really ever blown away by a shu? The word "amazing" or "mind-blowing" is not what you normally attach to a shu; shu is more like pumpkin pie.  I often read tea bloggers praising shu's with a "Pleasantly surprised" designation because the earthiness or pondiness is not as bad as they expected.  I think there are some pretty good shu's out there but the flavor variations tend to be small compared to the vast differences one can experience in sheng.  

Among my ripe cakes, probably the 2006 Menghai Yunnan to Tibet Horse Ripe Puerh Cake is the most interesting with lovely rootbeery/sarsparilla overtones but the other shu's I have had access to tend to have a rather limited palate ranging from roasty, earth, peat, woody, malty sweet to camphor/anise. I finally put in an order for the Menghai Golden Needle White Lotus which has had more gushing on-line than any other shu. If you think there is another mind-blowing shu's to be had, write me! I know I want to try some Boyou's but I don't know if ex-Menghai alum Mr. Huang is replicating the Menghai taste for a lower price or has he gone to innovate?  

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