“Well, this is interesting,” I thought as I opened the little sample packet. My experience with pu’er is extremely limited (I guess that’s what inspired me to step out and order the samplers from Verdant Tea). The dry leaf was, well, chunky, as one would expect from a tea that had been chipped off a compressed cake, but it was exciting to my pu’er-noviceness.
My first impression of the leaf smell was…wood. Like the wooden desk I had when I was a little kid that for some reason, I enjoyed licking. I don’t know why, I was a weird kid, but that’s the first thing that came to mind.
After two rinsings, I had a bit of trouble getting this down for the first couple of steepings; it came off very astringent to me, despite near-instant steep times. But there was a nuttiness that was very apparent, along with more of that woody-flavor. Happily, a few steepings later the overbearing astringency subsided a bit. The emerging flavor is one I’m not quite sure how to describe; seeing as I have so little experience with teas like this I’m not really sure what to compare it to. There is sort of a light sweetness, almost like that in a white tea, and maybe a sort of whole-grainy flavor, like a hot breakfast cereal.
Overall, I’m not sure I’m exactly wild about this tea, but it’s certainly something I’d like to revisit later after I’ve had more experience with teas of this sort. Pu’er really is a whole world of its own.
On a side note, occasionally when I drink tea, I get this weird heady, cloudy, relaxed feeling that I half-jokingly refer to as “teahigh”. So far it doesn’t seem tea-specific; it seems to be pretty random. It’s not strictly caffeine or tea-related either, since I’ve experienced the feeling with herbals as well, and occasionally even coffee. But when trying this tea, almost as soon as the cup touched my lips I started getting that heady feeling, and much stronger than usual. I actually had to space out the steepings throughout the course of the day because I had some projects I needed to focus on. While I’m still pretty sure the feeling isn’t tea-specific, I figured I would make note of it anyway, just in case.