Sunday, January 13, 2013
2003 Xing Hai Bulang Gushu
One of my tea purchase during my short family vacation in Guangzhou last Christmas was his 2003 Xing Hai raw pu erh cake. This 357g cake is composed with Bulang region tea. It has a red chop on the wrapper "Gushu tea".
The term 'Gushu' means old tree. There are many interpretations to defining what 'gushu' imply and till today this 'gushu' definition is often discussed among Chinese tea drinkers when they gather for a cup of tea. One thought is that gushu refers to non plantation tea trees that are more than 50-100 years old. Some tea drinkers are more strict by not including abandoned plantation trees in this definition. And 'gushu' pu erh tea are more expensive. I learnt from experienced tea drinker friends that most gushu tea cakes are a good mix of old tree pu erh tea. My good friend from Ipoh Malaysia, Su defined gushu as more than 200 year old. However, it takes lots of drinking experience to be able to distinguish a gushu tea. Sadly, there are now plantation pu erh tea being sold as gushu, with wrappers loudly declaring its vintage and it would only take drinking experience to be able to distinguish a gushu pu erh.
Gushu tea was difficult to find in Guangzhou. My tea master friend there mentioned that such teas were hardly available in the tea markets and when available, would be pricy as well. He had managed to keep 3 of these cakes aside for me and told me that this tea would be a good representation of what a cup of gushu would taste like.
Well, I did not stand up on my chair and sing after a couple sessions of this tea. The differences are subtle, to me at least. It was easier, for me, to brew this tea at home and drink alone (I felt it was difficult to assess this tea when drinking as a group) so that I could appreciate the characteristics of this gushu tea. This amber colored tea tasted good when drank hot or warm. The taste tasted slightly aged, very hard to hold in the mouth as its slided down my throat easily. Unlike most of the raw pu erh tea that I had drank, this tea does not give that dry throat sensation after downing a cup but instead I felt a nice salivating sensation (less than a minute). The light floral and herbal scent did linger pleasantly in the mouth after the tea session. No intoxicating sensations but overall I enjoyed this brew very much.
This Xinghai gushu (which I believe has a good mix of gushu) did contrast significantly against the 2007 Xiaguan tuo (14 Dec 2011 blog) which I also enjoyed. This tuo (I believe is plantation pu) was smoky, slightly bitter and strong tasting. The Xinghai was more subtle, a much lighter floral herbal touch and a nice longer, much smoother salivating finish. The xiaguan, on the other end of the spectrum was a tad dry in its aftertaste. Its a nice contrast and I look forward in opening a few more gushu cakes in the next few months.