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I’m getting to where I’ve tried more than a few pu’ers now, and I feel like it’s a getting a little redundant to say one tastes “earthy” because, well, every pu’er I’ve had has held that characteristic. It’s like saying peppermint tea tastes minty. Pu’er experts of steepster, is this an accurate judgement?

But this one, under the obvious earthiness, holds some note I’m not sure I’ve tasted before… I kind of want to say.. mineral, maybe? It reminds me of what water might taste like if I was taking a hike in the woods and stopped to drink from a stream… just very fresh and cool and yet… rugged and natural, outdoorsy, like fresh air. I know those aren’t generally words used to describe tea, but I’m trying here.

In my, still admittedly novice, experiences with pu’er, between shu and sheng, shu is growing on me much faster. Maybe it’s just that dark earthiness… shu seems more… soil and fall leaves to me, whilst sheng tastes more like spring saplings, still earthy, but more woody and less soil-y. And I just really dig that “forest floor” quality in all of the shu that I’ve tried.

I know, it sounds like I’m talking about drinking trees, but trust me when I say I mean this in the best way possible.

I’m looking at the leaves now and noticing that these are some resilient little nuggets. I’m about 7-8 post-rinse steeps in and they’re still clinging together in their little clusters. Some of them are significantly darker than others— I wonder why this is? Maybe some of them were on the outside of the piles while they were aging while others were at the center? I have so much to learn about pu’er (and so little money!)

Mmm, I’ll also note that the “river water” note as I’m now calling it, seems to emerge best when the water is at it’s hottest— I just reboiled the water and that bright, clean note is now stronger than ever. I really love it. I just wish my tea-vocabulary could describe it.

Ooh, just caught a berry note. Delightful. This is now a hike-in-the-woods-and-drink-from-a-stream-and-eat-a-handful-of-wild-blackberries tea. All the adventure, none of the risk of snakebites, bee stings, or stumbling over a root and spraining an ankle.

I’m noticing the darker nuggets seem to be much more stubborn to open and separate than the lighter colored ones. Maybe the darker ones are more compact? At least they’ve all sunk now; for the longest time one of the darkest nuggets insisted on floating on the surface of the water as it steeped.

I’ve just now come up with a new term for that river-water taste/feel: rocky. Or maybe going back to mineral would be more accurate. I can’t say I’ve ever picked up a rock and sucked on it, not since I was a child at least, but I expect water rushing over lots of little river-pebbles might tasted something like this.

I love how shu just seems to last forever and ever. The only downside to that is that I can’t just have a quick morning session before work without feeling like I’m wasting several steepings. This is definitely a slow, unwinding evening sort of tea. I really would love more evenings like this.

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