I’ve been on the radar for another good Lao Cha Tou. The last good one I had is long gone and finding a new and ready to drink Lao Cha Tou is tricky. Lao Cha Tou is stuck lumps of the shou pile, literal tea nugget chunks. Some shady vendors pitch the tea as a rarity. In the lower end scale, you get dusty lumps of fish. I have some from 2013 that are still not aired out enough to drink. What I like to see in a good Lao Cha Tou is indestructible shou drinking with a creamy profile that can resteep extremely well.
Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2018 Lao Cha Tou is from Menghai and a mix of sizes.
Leaf and Steeping Method
This looks different than other Lao Cha Tou. All the other shou nuggest I’ve seen are smaller lumps like this.
Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2018 Lao Cha Tou looks more like actual broken up cake and not iron pressed dust chunks.
When this tea arrived, it smelled funky to me, so I let it sit for a month, then it went into the shou-pumidor. I sampled it back at the Northwest Tea Festival and it was fine tasting, and then I waited until I was in prime shou weather drinking to enjoy. I used 1 gram of shou nugget per 14ml of vessel size, boiling gongfu steeped starting with two rinses.
Tasting of Crimson Lotus Tea’s Lao Cha Tou Shou Puer
First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2018 Lao Cha Tou sips in woodsy and earthy, but the end of the sip is milky and sweet with a silky texture. The aftertaste is a wet wood flavour. The flavour intensity is nice and I detect no funky mushroom or fish notes. Each steeping gets more smooth and milky sweet.
Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Lao Cha Tou hit an abrasive wall here, tasting of red clay planters and wood. The background is black fresh earth. It isn’t as smooth as the early steepings, my guess it finally opened up. It also hit maximum inkiness.
Ninth and Tenth Infusion: Lao Cha Tou is back to smooth and tastes of sweet earth with a milky finish. The aftertaste is wet wood. At this time the chunks are mostly broken up and we can see big leaves steeping.
Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Infusion: I have hit wall number 2 as I’m racing against the clock as this tea wants to die. Lao Cha Tou has shifted sweet and woodsy, with a lot of aroma as I taste most of the earth through my nose. It is bright, sweet, and bit minerally. Despite more messing around with steep timings, this is the best infusions here.
Fifteenth and Sixteenth Infusion: Lao Cha Tou finishes sweet and minerally, with a hint of wood. As usual, I likely could have gotten another steeping or two with a dedicated teapot. I wished I used my clay pot I use for shous as this would have been crazy. These last infusions were light tasting and cold in temperature.
Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2018 Lao Cha Tou is a little different than other shou nuggets I’ve seen, which tend to be solid dusty lumps. 2018 Lao Cha Tou is a friendly shou that isn’t funky or fishy. The notes are pleasantly smooth and easy to drink for the most part. Right now, one of the better Lao Cha Tou around and I think it has a bit of room to settle down.
The 2018 Lao Cha Tou is certainly a bang for your buck tea. I drank this tea for almost 2.5 hours in a 100ml gaiwan and I drink fast. This is a shou you can drink all day or put in a thermos.
(tea provided for review)