We dubbed Storm Breaker “Storm Wrecker” at the Northwest Tea Festival. I don’t think it helped that it was one of the last teas I had at the festival on both days, but this tea has a lot of energy for a shou puer! Before the festival, I bought a sample of 2017 Storm Breaker when it was released, but sat on it for a few weeks.
I was told 2017 Storm Breaker has 65% fermentation, so this tea has a lot of room to settle in and age. My innards are clenching at the “2017”, “shou”, and “65%” giving me flashbacks of drinking a young Menghai V93 and the shou gut rotting of my stomach lining.
Official puer wrapper art:
Dry Leaf and Steeping Method
Storm Breaker features nicely golden swirl of leaf with a nose wrinkle scent of wet pile dank.
I used 1 gram of leaf to 13ml of vessel size, steeped in boiling water. I was warned to rinse this tea 2-4 times. I am slightly concerned as I am sure the reasoning is to get all the wet pile notes out since this shou is quite young.
Tasting of Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2017 Storm Breaker Shou Puer
Rinses 1-4: The rinses were quite cloudy and the hot leaf smells like concentrated hot dirt at Home Depot. I sampled the 2nd rinse and it was not bad, but a bit of a pungency as an aftertaste. The 3rd rinse the chunks of my cake broke up and the colour went dark. It was not a good steep and still in rinse mode as the flavor was wet piled funk, tart dirt, and a strange soggy raisin flavor.
First and Second Infusion: The hot leaf now smells strongly woody, leaning towards cherry and cedar. The Storm Breaker steeps up a solid ruddy brown with a bit of cloudy. The flavor is richly woodsy with a creamy coated texture. The flavor seems loose like it starts rich then gets washed in the rain, then comes in again with the bright fruity aftertaste. The flavor shifts to dried prunes as an aftertaste, which adds a nice contrasting sweetness.
Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Storm Breaker got thicker in texture – it is swampy and pungent in a woodsy and rain, with some west coast petrichor wet, then finishes off with that prune note. The flavor notes are low to moderate, it certainly is loose and watery as this is young shou. It reminds me of walking home from school in the rain, then arriving at Grandmas house to find a snack of prunes. It is slightly tart in these steepings too.
The body sensation of this tea is different. My cheeks are feeling puffy, I’m starting to drool since the tea is so thick.
Seventh and Eighth Infusion: The flavor is softening up. Storm Breaker is creamy, mineral, rainwater, and slightly woody. There is a clean rain flavor like it’s been raining forever and all the hot pavement and dirt has washed away. It lost the fruity notes, so it is just straight mineral and sweet notes. It is pretty energizing of a tea too, I am regretting having it past 5 pm as I am going to be wired all night. These are the best infusions – it screams Pacific Northwest rain torrents of high rainfalls and clean.
Ninth and Tenth Infusion: These were weird steepings – this tastes like creamy hot rain with a slight touch of wood. The aftertaste is savory umami, almost marine salty, like how the beach smells on an evening in fall. It has that what I can best describe as watery looseness, like rain wash, as the flavor is lost yet there. It is something I taste in younger puer or overly rainy season oolong.
The steeped out leaf is green and mushy. As I squish around the leaves disintegrate. I’m sure I could dupe this with PNW leaf mush from under my boots.
2017 Storm Breaker is a young shou that gives you a unique tea session. It is certainly a West Coast tea with feels of wood, rain, and petrichor. It starts quite dirty but cleans up with each steep.
Now that I’ve had 3 new shous from Crimson Lotus Teas I got a grasp of which ones I’d buy. 2017 Nannuo Mini Shrooms is a must buy – they are delicious and have unique notes. 2010 Black Gold is outstanding high quality and special.
Storm Breaker is a weird one and I’d call it an investment tea. I’ve had plenty of young shou, especially in the not fully fermented kind, and all they all need aging time. Storm Breaker is interesting to drink now, but it will heavily change in a year, require storage for aging, and get really good in a few more years. The notes will tighten up with age, lose that rainy loose texture and tartness, and maybe develop a more date note. Crimson Lotus could have easily sat on this one for a year or three before selling. I’m sure you will find reviews late 2018 with a different taste profile and many more re-infusions.
A cake of 2017 Storm Breaker Shou Puer is currently $79 for 200 grams, running expensive compared to other shous we tend to see sold for us western market tea drinkers. I had a long rant on my Black Gold review regarding expensive puer, which oddly does not stand with Storm Breaker as this shou has room to age whereas most shous don’t have much change.
If you got the storage and the gamble or like how the tasting sounded, certainly pick up a cake of 2017 Storm Breaker shou puer. If you don’t have the storage, wait and cross fingers that it doesn’t sell out or cost an arm and a leg. If you want a high-end drink now shou that is fantastic – pay the extra $10 and get Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2010 Black Gold.