; Cwyn's Death By Tea: On Drinking Shou, a 7581. ;

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

On Drinking Shou, a 7581.

The winter is nearly over, and I realize I did not drink much shou this year. In part, my edema just is more noticeable and I find sheng gives me a bit of relief whilst shou seems to exacerbate the feeling of too much water in my arms and legs. Also I’ve had more than my share of gut bomb shous over the past year, teas that are likely to age out well because they are so strong, but not so wise to drink young. Yes, I do well in buying shou but not so well in waiting to drink them. All too easily I get entranced at the idea of well-aged shou, a delicious drink, and keep buying what I think will turn out well with some years on it. I delude myself that my son and sister will continue drinking my collection after I’m gone, even though I know my son will happily call a tea vendor and tell him to come get Mother’s tea.

But giving more thought to the issue behind avoiding shou, I remember now that I drank shou happily for years. In fact, I bought shou cakes and 7542 back in 2009 and dipped into my shou cakes regularly for years. So what happened? Suddenly I realize that I used to grandpa my shou, rather than gongfu brew. I never had a gut issue during those years. I also know that I tend to leaf heavy in the gaiwan, and probably my strong shou teas are just that, too strong for heavy leafing and probably tending toward medicinal strength. I admire strong sheng and shou puerh teas at what I consider to be medicinal strength because of my decades studying and using herbal tisanes as tonics and light medicines. In fact, these teas are stronger than so many tonic herbs, and as I am accustomed to caffeine and theanine, it is easy for me to take for granted how strong puerh teas really are.

So I find myself digging in the cupboard today to find a forgotten shou mug. After a couple of years drinking tea, I bought this Yixing mug specifically for shou. I liked the idea of not washing the mug, just a good rinse and wipe and all set to dry out for the next day. Also, shou stains regular mugs as you probably know. Confining my shou to one mug rather than muck up mugs others in the house wish to use is a good rationale to shop for tea ware.

Yixing tea mug with cover.
This Yixing mug is one I bought from Enjoying Tea for about $24, and isn’t the best Yixing as you can imagine. The clay is a bit muddy smelling at times, but is fine for heavy shou teas. Maybe the extra mud actually helps me digest the shou better. I need to remember how I used to brew shou, and try this old ritual again with a brick of 7581 shou.

Bricks like this are easy to find for about $10 with shipping incl.
I got this 250g 7581 brick over a year ago and cannot remember where, EBay or Aliexpress perhaps. I know I bought a couple of these and paid $9.99 and got free shipping. I know I was mentally ill at the time in my tea over-buying habits which is probably why memory is fuzzy on the details. In defense of my purchase, the 7581 brick is a favorite of many people. Our Steepster friend Yangchu once wrote something like “if you don’t like a 7581, them’s fightin’ words,” a rather…strong endorsement. Seems this tea is a staple in many puerh cupboards.

The bamboo is folded around the brick,
easy to put the tea back in and slide the ties on.
Back to recalling my old ritual. I chip off a bit of shou about the size of an American quarter coin and place it in a hand strainer. Then I rinse the tea in the strainer under cold water. This will remove any fishy or dusty dirt flavor without activating the tea and losing any brew. Then I dump the tea in the mug and do two boiling rinses and pour off the rinse into the strainer to catch any stray leaves. Sticks usually will float out readily and I can toss those. Then I fill the mug with boiling water and put the cover on.

Yes, yes this tea will make me lose tons of weight
lower my cholesterol and prevent diabetes,
as well as recover from hangovers and improve my sex life.
The first half of the mug is on the light side as the tea slowly releases itself. The second half gets sweeter and more densely flavored. This particular tea has a very sweet huigan, and also some astringency.

Rinse shou in cold water
using an ordinary kitchen strainer.
Then rinse with boiling water twice.
When about 1/3 of the brew remains, I refill the mug with boiling water and continue drinking. This 7581 has a nice chocolate smell. I usually go for yet another refill before discarding the leaves. My Yixing mug gets very hot to the touch, except for the handle, and nice for cold hands but not so much if you have small children around. This mug is good to keep at work. Nobody else is likely to borrow it.

Hey, it's not how we brew, but how much we enjoy.
I suppose if I return to drinking shou mostly by grandpa style, I will still need to assess a shou using a gaiwan. But whatever works for tea is all good, however we drink it. Bricks like this 7581 are very inexpensive and are not a huge commitment for someone just getting started with shou puerh. A regular ole coffee mug works just fine, no special equipment needed. 


  1. Thanks, Cywn. An enjoyable read.

  2. Just read your steepster bio, here is a quote: " I drink all greens, and maintain a small collection of sheng and shu cakes" small... LUL

  3. Brewing shupu grandpa style is counterintuitive to me. I’ve always thought shupu does best with boiling water, and obviously this way that doesn’t happen after the first steep. Brewing green tea grandpa style, the lower temp is a feature, not a bug, but shupu?!

    I’ve no inclination to doubt that this works for you, but I’m curious as to why: do you think the explanation might be thermal as much as concentration-related?

    1. I don't think I concluded anything about temps. Shou is not really worth the min/max search for subtleties. At least not for me, I drink it mostly for health effects that don't exist. I'm on meds for that, too.

  4. I'm just gonna slip in here and thank you for your sweet writings. I've seen an occasional note on Steepster (I'm just figuring out what's there) and today I joyfully found your blog. I really appreciate how you share knowledge and your experience. I don't usually post comments but feel really happy binge reading old posts. Thanks again and I hope your day is truly blessed.

    1. Hello, thank you for taking the time to write. Cheers!