I was quite perplexed with this tea. A worker at Peet’s told me that this was one of the more sought after ones at their location. The tin felt heavier than the other teas, and for good reason: the leaves were compressed as is customary for pu-erh teas. The tea bricks themselves smelled very earthy (not the typical pu-erh “earthy”) and bitter. I got a more pungent smell when I actually brewed it.
The color of the brew was very dark, even after lightly “rinsing” it with a miniature steeping. It started off as a light pink, but as the brick dissolved, the pink turned into a reddish-brown within seconds. This fascinated me quite a bit, as I had never seen a loose leaf tea change color as dramatically as this before. Then again, the directions called for a much longer steeping than I usually give Pu-erhs.
The taste was as it smelled for the first brew: Earthy, bitter, with an acidic aftertaste. But another element decided to show up as well. It was nutty, and tasted like a bitter baking flour. The after taste was not very pleasing either. I still had a bitter nut flavor in the back of my throat.
Unsatisfied with the first brew, I decided to have a second steeping. After all, I heard so much about this tea from the staff, and one of the locals. And I supposed that the first brew washed the tea enough for a second brew.
The second steeping was MUCH more welcoming than the first. The earthy flavor had become more typical, and more enjoyable. In fact, I quite liked the second steeping. This time, the earthy taste was still present, but the nutty flavor had been replaced by a more vegetal one (very unexpected). This one was more smooth, and the beverage had a slightly lighter color. It was a dark red now. However, I still did not like the acidic after taste.
I brewed the tea twice with the directions provided, and twice using a more traditional method with shorter steeps.
I suppose I’ll rate this tea based on the experience over all. I will not be drinking this pu-erh regularly, as I would with others. The character changed quite dramatically between steeps, and proved to be uneven. This tea was not wonderful, but not terrible either; it was centered in between the two.