2017 Ku Ku Gushu Sheng (苦苦古樹生茶餅, Kǔ Kǔ Gǔ Shù Shēng Chá, "Bitter Bitter Ancient Tree Sheng Tea") - This tea, along with our Jingmai Red and Jingmai Shu bings, come from a young man named Sha Er. Sha Er is the son of the sworn brother of Li Shulin, our main Pu'er farmer. He and his family live in Sanmai, adjacent to Nannuo Mountain. Li Shulin has three children, none of whom are interested in making tea, so Sha Er has become the heir to Li's talents and techniques. I first met Sha Er - which doesn't really have any Chinese characters because it's his Akha name, not his Mandarin name - in 2014, when he had first started apprenticing with Li. Li has taught him how to make Sheng Pu'er, sun-dried red tea, and how to small-pile ferment mao cha into Shu Pu'er. We carry one of each of these bings.
Sheng Pu'er was the first style of tea that Sha Er mastered, so we have access to material going back to 2017. Sha Er's productions of red tea and Shu Pu'er for the past few years have been small and exploratory, but by 2017 he was confident enough in his ability to produce Sheng Pu'er to make a batch from ancient tree material.
How is it? It's bitter. Like Nannuo, Sanmai has many old Pu'er arbors, but San Mai's tea is characteristically more bitter. The result is a clean, bright tea that is excellent if you don't mind things being bitter. We don't - we're big fans of this tea. It doesn't taste especially mature, as it has been dry-aged in situ in Sanmai.