Okay, I just spent 2 hours tracking 5 different steeps of this tea and then Firefox crashed and it all went poof. Yeah, I need to write tasting notes in a different program and just paste into Steepster because. Not. Cool. Sigh. Okay, this might be for the best since having to remember what happened will mean that this is shorter than the original. Not short, mind you. Just shorter.
I have no idea what I’m doing with this tea but I’ll do my best to muddle through. Since I have the time and inclination, I’m going to use the whole almost 8g sample and brew it up in my gaiwan. It fills about 1/4th of the gaiwan so this is either the correct amount or not quite enough. Whatever. Muddling.
The leaves look like dark, slightly large Gunpowder. Or very tiny raisins. The dry leaves smell dusty and a little dirty. Like my back porch right before spring cleaning. Gave it a 10s rinse and OMG, not cool. The wet leaves smell like burnt coffee. Badly burnt. Yuck.
First Steep: 35s at 185°. The leaves smell horrible. Thankfully, the tea smells like a blend of non-burnt coffee and pu-erh hay smell. The taste? Wow. Weird. Very weird. It tastes like how I drink restaurant coffee – very sweet and creamy. Specifically, I’d say about 3 sugars and 2 creamers. Crazy. I’m getting a little hint of caramel syrup in the aftertaste.
Second Steep: 40s at 195°. The burnt coffee smell of the leaves is so strong that it is almost a physical blow when I raise the lid to the gaiwan. There is a little more coffee flavor than pu-erh flavor. Now it tastes like coffee with perhaps two sugars and only one creamer but it’s a flavored creamer.
Third Steep: 45s at 190°. The leaves are opening up some and now they look like small angry beetles that will attack me. Now the taste is pretty much two sugars and half of a flavored creamer.
Fourth Steep: 50s at 185°. Really wish the leaves didn’t smell like burnt coffee. This steep tastes almost exactly like the one before but now the creamer is unflavored.
Fifth Steep: 60s at 195°. The leaves are not even half way open and this steep tastes almost exactly like the second steep. This is the tea that will never die.
Whew. All caught up. Now new stuff but honestly? I have no idea how long this tea will last so we’re going keep the same level of detail as the recap above because I have no desire to find out if Steepster has a character limit on logs.
Sixth Steep: 70s at 195°. Starting to transition into something more pu-erh hay-like with a coffee under note.
Seventh and Eight Steeps: 80s and 90s respectively, at 195°. The leaves are opened enough to look like mangled cricket legs… from decently large crickets. (How do I know this? My cats like to pull the back legs off of crickets and then eat the crickets (or so I assume as we ever only find the legs)). Currently the flavor is somewhere between coffee-flavored pu-erh and steeps one and two. This. Tea. Will. Never. Die.
Ninth Steep: 1:40 at 195°. Nope, not dead. The aftertaste if full on sweet pu-erh aftertaste now though.
Tenth Steep: 2min at 195°. Okay, this might be hinting that in 3 or 5 or so steeps, the flavor will start to fade but right now? This tastes like pretty much like all the other steeps I’ve had of this. I’ve had around 40 ounces of this tea. I’m going to be smelling like coffee for days, sweating it out my pores. This tea wins, I wave the white flag.
So now the big question: how does this tea rate?
I have no idea.
Is it high quality? Yes, so a 4/5 stars there which puts it at anywhere over 70. I mean come on. Ten steeps? Seriously? And it’s smooth and sweet and flavorful. Very good quality (in my less-than-pu-erh-knowledgeable opinion).
Would I repurchase this tea (which would give it a rank over 80)? I have no idea. First or second steep I would have said sure, probably. It’s weird but I like it. Not really my norm but enjoyable and something I could dip into every now and again. But after ten steeps (and more left in the leaves), I kind of feel that there is no way I can fully appreciate a tea like this, a tea that lasts this long. So maybe it should be filed under “Good Tea but Too Serious For Me”. (I’d totally make a file folder for that). But at the same time, it is tasty. And I wouldn’t have to do ten steeps each time I had it (and I doubt it would last that long done Western style). So I’ll have to make that answer a strong maybe and I’ll rate it accordingly.
I think I might go soak a leaf or two for a few hours just to see if they are truly capable of fully expanding.
And if you care, a few pictures on my blog here: http://bit.ly/a0iwHM