Thanks to ESGREEN for this sample!
I’m still pretty new to pu’er, so the first thing I did was go to ESGREEN’s website for any brewing instructions. When I saw “10-15g in a gaiwan” I thought I was misreading something. So I weighed the sample I received and found it to be 7g. I shrugged and poured the contents into my 100ml gaiwan. I went with the rest of the guidelines on the website and did two washes of three seconds each. The liquor was DARK. I began thinking 7g was too much, but went on with the first steep at four seconds. I bid my time and sniffed the wet leaves first. They were extremely pungent, smelling of old, worn-out leather, dusty books, dirt, and hints of overripe plums and a touch of florals.
I turned back to my foreboding cup of deep, dark, brown-crimson liquor, and sniffed it. Earthy and musky. I took a sip…and sighed in relief. I guess I was expecting something like turpentine since it seemed like there were way too many leaves in the gaiwan. Turns out it was just the right amount. The resulting brew wasn’t potent at all, and it never did become unpalatable if steeped too long in the later steeps. A slightly familiar “sheng” flavor introduced itself. It was earthy and musty. Meh.
But then….whoa… This tiny bit of astringency I first detected hiding somewhere in the tea exploded, making my mouth and throat tingle all over like ants were marching back and forth across my palate. An excellent sensation of huigan. The liquor was silky, smooth, and had this interesting salty/slippery feeling to it. The tea becomes more complex over time, increasing in sweetness, introducing flavors of fruits and florals, and becoming much like a shui xian into the fifth steep. The mouthfeel becomes even more complex, though. All kinds of tingling, sparkling, smooth, salty, and coarse textures assaulted my tongue and throat, appearing and disappearing with reckless abandon. I took this tea into the twenties for steeps, finally rounding out with flavors of peppercorn, camphor, earth and wood, tiny hints of chocolate, and florals and fruit. Towards the end of its life, it left a beefier aftertaste, and the huigan was slower and subtler.
The leaves were quite massive. By the end of my steeping session, the lid of my gaiwan was resting on the leaves, and couldn’t even close completely. There was also a ton of huge loose stems and quite a large ball of broken pieces that had formed at the bottom, resembling mulch. The leaves that were whole, however, had held up nicely through aging and were very strong and thick.
Other things I noticed: around steep five, the liquor became kind of murky, and was actually gritty. At one point I ground my teeth and heard a crunch. Also, through steep four to around six or seven, tea oils were clearly visible resting on the surface of the liquor.