Sunday, March 4, 2012

Starway, Nannuoshan Pu-erh

This is a bit of a miracle in a can.

Regular readers may recognize the picture for this tea, as I reviewed it previously under the company name Qiandao Yuye. I was pretty sure at the time I might have the company name wrong. On Steepster I had reviewed this same under the company name Nannuoshan. Recently I read a couple tea reviews by the same company on Alex Zorach’s tea blog. He listed it as Starway. So I looked very closely at the tin and it does list Starway as the distributor of this tea. In my own defense most of the writing is in Chinese. What is in English is very difficult to read as the color of the type is very close to the color of the tin. Whatever the name, the tin is pretty distinctive so is it is easy to spot on the shelf.

This tin has been in my tea drawer for months without being touched. When I bought it, the smell and the taste were really bad – read my previous review. So bad in fact, I cut it with various herbs until I hit upon using Chocolate mint. Together the pair made for a wonderful drink. A fellow Steepster member mentioned how he once bought a cheap shu and that with some age it had actually became quite nice. This puerh is slightly less that two years old but I thought I would see if it had improved.

Here’s my updated review:

The leaf is chocolate brown and has no distinctive odor. That’s a good start. I did a 6 second wash, poured and let the leaf rest for a moment, then I did a 30 second drinking steep with boiling water. I have always loved the color of this tea. The first cup is burgundy, and very wine-like. I poured and sniffed the leaf. The moldy fish odor is gone! It has been replaced with a mild shu odor :^)

The sip… Holy metamorphosis Batman, I can’t believe this is the same tea! Absolutely none of the nasties that were present last summer. It has been replaced with very mild yet leathery goodness. A few more sips and I am getting that sticky lip feel with my tummy rumbling in appreciation. This is aging into a pretty nice tea.

Cup two, one minute steep. Darker, more root beer colored. This is a richer more flavorful cup. The longer steep definitely brings out a lot more flavor. There really isn’t anything I would call earthy, or for that matter mushroom. Just clean leather. I like this.

Cup three, one minute steep. Same root beer color. This is the last cup I have time for today and it’s a good thing as the flavor drops off becoming very light. So two good steeps with this one.

With a better quality puerh you can get a lot more cups out of your leaf but at $6 (as I recall) for this 6oz tin it has turned into a pretty tasty bargain.


  1. I´m new at the Pu erh world and i started with this tin, i found the taste a bit earthty and with a wonderfull color, but i only took a 6 second steep; now i´m on my third cup, i´ll try a fourth with one minute steep...

    ... a hint of sweetnes and a wood taste, and it leave a spicy taste at the end. A dry and smooth sensation at the mouth and yes, it leaves a sticky lip feel....

    I guess i must learn a lot in the Pu erh world.

  2. I tend to like a strong cup but I have learned since writing this review that really short steeps work well with a lot of teas. It sounds like you are already further along in your journey. Using the gaiwan in gong fu brewing is a new direction I am taking in my own journey. Thanks for sharing.

  3. It's funny, I've now tried a handful of different teas from Starway Inc, in these similar-looking tins. Their Huangshan Mao Feng and Bi Luo Chun, I think are great, and their Shou Mei is passable. But I thought their oolongs were pretty terrible--their Tie Guan Yin was almost undrinkable, and their "High Mountain Oolong" was very boring. They also had a generic "green tea" from Zhejiang, which, while drinkable and not bad, wasn't anywhere near as good as their two named green teas.

    Sometimes I like taking risks with these brands; I'm glad I tried it because the two green teas I discovered were a real fine, but the others have been a let-down and I've been considering just dumping out the contents of the one tin because I think it's too bad to even give away.

    1. Our local store quit carrying this brand so I never got to try the green teas you positively reviewed. I had wondered how much of the taste difference between the good and bad was the quality and how much was poor storage conditions in the store. I have had more than one bad experience from this local store from teas I know are otherwise good. They are notorious for having expired tea on the shelf. Sadly it is the only shop in town. Sounds like you have enough experience with Starway to know it is a quality thing between types. Good to hear from you.