Words cannot begin to describe how terrified I am. I’ve been filled with dread ever since I started researching pu’er/puer/pu-erh. What do they do to this tea?? In case you couldn’t guess, this is my first pu-erh experience. Okay, enough’s enough (as my boyfriend always says). Let’s move on to the tea review.
Man, when they said these are mini tuocha, they meant mini. These are itty, bitty, tiny, bite-sized cakes. I wasn’t expecting that. They’re actually pretty cute. I spent all day reading about pu-erh and how to break it apart. I don’t have a tea needle or an envelope opener, so I was contemplating using a metal chopstick. But as it turns out, all that knowledge is useless with these little things. At least it fits in my tea strainer! Problem one solved.
The dry leaves have a very faint, slightly fishy aroma. Of course, part of me only thinks it smells fishy because I’ve read reviews using that word. Now it’s stuck in my head, and I can’t think of another way to describe this. I really like KS’ review where he said, “The aroma is pure ripe puerh (you know that “Eeww, do I really want to drink this?” smell. To which you happily reply, “Well, yeah.”).”
That’s pretty much exactly what I thought when I smelled the brewed tea, except minus the enthusiasm. I’m still not sure how this is going to turn out. I only did a one minute steep because I was so afraid. Did I rinse it enough? Because I mean, I only poured boiling water over it for like two seconds. Oh, the dread!!! The anxiety!!
It smells…kinda’ gross…like mud-covered gym socks or like a musty, dust-covered wood cabin in the middle of the Adirondack mountains. I wish I could place the aroma because it actually smells somewhat familiar. It’s tickling my memory anyway, but I’m not coming up with anything. I definitely get the idea that this is cooked pu-erh as the word “cooked” readily comes to mind. Hmmm, dare I sip it? Oh come on! Why am I so afraid of this? Red rooibos put the fear of the unknown into me, let me tell you. Who’s afraid of tea? I mean really?
Okay, man up! First sip…I’m not sure what to make of this…It’s not 100% off-putting. Only slightly off-putting. It definitely still has that weird, hard-to-describe taste that’s in the aroma. Woodsy, I guess. It’s not bad, just really weird. I’m getting a little bit of leather, but not nice leather. It’s not like walking into a leather outlet or a horse stable. It’s more like riding in the rain and mud and then having to clean the saddle. Or leather cleaner maybe. It’s not entirely pleasant.
This is definitely what I would describe as an acquired taste. I wouldn’t expect the average tea drinker to enjoy this, especially one like me who has a passion for green, white, and oolong teas. But the flavor isn’t overtly in-your-face. I’m not getting any bitterness (or rose, but I wasn’t expecting to since this is my first pu-erh). It’s actually quite smooth. But I think four sips are enough for this first infusion. I can’t bring myself to finish the cup. Let’s see what happens with a second infusion! This one for two minutes.
Phew! This second cup is even more fragrant than the last one. I suppose if I had liked the first cup, this second cup would be better. But unfortunately, that quality I didn’t really like only got stronger. I gave the cup to my cat to sniff. He sniffed it for a good 10 seconds. He kind of perked up near the end, and I thought he might actually want to try it. Then he thought better of it. I made myself sip it, and it was actually sweeter than I expected. But I don’t think I can drink this tea. It’s just not my style.
To finish off the pu-erh night, I gave it to my boyfriend to try. He often likes things I don’t. He took a tentative sip, wrinkled his brow, and took another sip. Then he said, “It’s dry and it tastes like leaves.” “It’s called pu-erh,” I said. He replied, “More like just poo.” The boyfriend concurs; this is not for us.
But I’m sure my first pu-erh experience could have been a lot worse than this. I’m still convinced that this is high quality tea. If anyone would like to take the remaining three mini tuochas off my hands, send me a message!