From the Unflavored TTB
I was really looking forward to trying some quality Pu-erh in this tea box, but things aren’t going as well as I hoped. First, when I read other tasting notes, the standard process for Pu-erh steeping seems to be to put about 8 grams into a gaiwan and take really short steeps. But the box only has 5 grams of this tea and I don’t want to hog it all. So, I tried using 2.5 grams in about 3 oz of water and 30 s steeps.
I did a short 5-10 second rinse, then made my first pot. The aroma was absolutely marvelous: floral and fruity and sweet. I thought, this is going to be GREAT! Then I took my first sip and it was bitter and earthy. Nothing like that wonderful aroma. After trying several sips, I finally decided that I might not have rinsed the tea for long enough and threw out the tea (after spending 5 minutes just sniffing the cup).
The second steep (30 s) had a richer aroma, with added spice, but I didn’t like it quite as well as the first one. The taste is better, with some of the fruit from the aroma, but still considerable bitterness.
3rd steep (30s): The aroma has gone from fruit to cooked fruit; still very good. Wow. The bitterness is just about gone, and I think I could actually like this tea. Unfortunately, the bitterness still appears in the finish.
4th (30 s): The aroma has started to fade, though what is there is still really good. Taste is straw with undercurrents of fruit. Very rich, with long NON-bitter finish.
5th (45 s): Finally, I ’m starting to just enjoy. The finish is now huge, with fruit, spice, and straw.
Rating: Part of me says I shouldn’t rate this tea since I’m a Pu-erh newbie. On the other hand, my tastes may better reflect the average steepster participant than the Pu-erh fanatics. So, I’ll provide a number. But how? This may be the best-smelling tea I’ve ever had, so on smell alone the rating should be in the high 90s. But I had to dump out my first two cups as undrinkable, suggesting 50s. I have to give credit for intellectual pleasure: the tea is constantly shifting, rewarding the effort to do multiple steeps and explaining the fascination people develop for Pu-erh. Though subsequent tastes improved, I never fully warmed up to the tea.