82

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.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
kimquat

The first time I brewed this tea, I used boiling water and it was a terrible mistake. It was bitter and undrinkable. I find that I enjoy it best around 175-185F. It might have been an issue with water temperature. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it so much!

Dr Jim

I did use boiling water, per the Mandala instructions. That’s the disadvantage of only having a small sample. Do you use cooler water for all pu-erh or just Sheng? Or just this specific tea?

MzPriss

Dr Jim – I usually do a couple of rinses. And you know – you like what you like. I’m always amazed how different the opinions are and the different things people taste in the same tea. This one makes me giggly-happy, but it won’t do that for everyone. If you’d like to try another sheng, I could send you a little Wild Mountain Green and see if you like that a little better. I think that one is really accessible.

Dr Jim

Mzpriss: Thanks. There is a silver buds sheng in the box. I think I’ll try a small sample of that at a reduced temperature and if I have better luck then I may buy a sample. As I said in my review, the one downside of the TTB is you don’t want to take very much tea.

MzPriss

Holler if you want to try the other one. It was my first sheng and I loved it immediately.

kimquat

Both of the sheng pu-erh teas I’ve tried were from Mandala. I brew both of them at reduced temperatures because to me, they taste similar to green teas. Hot water makes them taste scorched. Good luck with your tea experiments. (:

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kimquat

The first time I brewed this tea, I used boiling water and it was a terrible mistake. It was bitter and undrinkable. I find that I enjoy it best around 175-185F. It might have been an issue with water temperature. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it so much!

Dr Jim

I did use boiling water, per the Mandala instructions. That’s the disadvantage of only having a small sample. Do you use cooler water for all pu-erh or just Sheng? Or just this specific tea?

MzPriss

Dr Jim – I usually do a couple of rinses. And you know – you like what you like. I’m always amazed how different the opinions are and the different things people taste in the same tea. This one makes me giggly-happy, but it won’t do that for everyone. If you’d like to try another sheng, I could send you a little Wild Mountain Green and see if you like that a little better. I think that one is really accessible.

Dr Jim

Mzpriss: Thanks. There is a silver buds sheng in the box. I think I’ll try a small sample of that at a reduced temperature and if I have better luck then I may buy a sample. As I said in my review, the one downside of the TTB is you don’t want to take very much tea.

MzPriss

Holler if you want to try the other one. It was my first sheng and I loved it immediately.

kimquat

Both of the sheng pu-erh teas I’ve tried were from Mandala. I brew both of them at reduced temperatures because to me, they taste similar to green teas. Hot water makes them taste scorched. Good luck with your tea experiments. (:

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Bio

Retired engineer/physicist.
My ratings will usually be based on multiple tastings. Green and oolong teas are generally 3 grams of tea in 6 oz water for 1 minute. Black teas are 1.5 grams of tea in 6 oz water for 3-4 minutes.

My numerical ratings are all based on how much enjoyment I took from the tea. Since I prefer blacks and oolongs, they will receive higher scores. I also give a couple of extra points to decafs, just because I can drink them in the evening without staying up half the night. I don’t dislike flavored teas, but find that they lack the complexity of finer teas.

90-100 = superior, worth a high price
80-89 = Excellent. Will buy again
70-79 = Good tea, but probably won’t buy
60-69 = Nothing really wrong, but…
Below 60 = Wouldn’t drink again

Location

Massachusetts

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