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Recent Tasting Notes
So I didn’t have such good luck with the last tuo, I decided to make a different one: orange peel and ripe puerh (陈皮熟沱)
This tuo broke apart pretty quickly, so even the first steep was very dark. Unfortunately the first through third steeps didn’t have an orange (peel) flavour. I’m not exactly sure what was intended with this flavour but I don’t “get it”. The ripe puerh itself is okay, but didn’t really appeal to me.
100ml gaiwan, 1 tuo, 3 steeps (rinse, 30s, 30s, 45s)
Individual rating: 50s
Tonight I tried green tea and raw puerh (绿茶生沱). Unfortunately it was a disaster and I’ll need to redo the steep parameters sometime for the last tuo.
First steep after the rinse was ok, it had a grassy flavour with familiar young raw puerh character.
With the second and third steeps the tuo broke apart and all I could taste was bitterness.
If anyone has suggestions on how I should steep this, please leave a comment.
100ml gaiwan, 1 tuo, 3 steeps (rinse, 30s, 45s, 1min)
Individual rating: 40s
Yep so, I’m still going through these 20 flavours. Tonight’s is mint and ripe puerh, as listed on the wrapper: 薄荷熟沱.
With a combo like mint and puerh I expected it to taste like mouthwash and dirt, but it actually kinda worked out. I did a total of 6 steeps and they were all generally pretty good. The mint flavour was pretty mild, just like a touch of menthol in each sip. Also like most of the ripe puerh in this assortment, it’s pretty tolerable but not amazing.
Not the best out of the 20 flavours but much better than I expected.
100ml gaiwan, 1 mini tuo, 6 steeps (rinse, 15s steep, +15s resteeps)
Individual rating: 70s
I’ve been so busy lately with tea samples and drinking through older purchases that I have not revisited this ebay puerh indulgence. However due to finding a new website I have renewed interest in my flavoured tuo cha. The website is http://www.nciku.com/ and it lets me “draw” Chinese characters with my mouse and gives me a selectable text of it. This has made finding out what I’m about to drink much easier, because the tuo cha wrappers only contain Chinese writing. So anyway, tonight’s tuo is globe amaranth with ripe puerh (千日紅熟沱).
Sipping from the first steep after the rinse, I taste something sweet that reminds me of cake. The liquor is still light because the tuo didn’t break apart.
Second steep is also sweet, with the tuo starting to break apart a bit but not fully. The ripe puerh flavour coming through is not too unfriendly.
Third steep is still quite sweet, and the tuo finally broke apart. Not the best tasting ripe puerh, but nowhere near the worst I’ve tried.
Fourth steep, I just taste ripe puerh at this point. I don’t get the sweetness or anything floral that I would associate with globe amaranth.
Fifth steep, while not floral is still fine. I think the ripe puerh is tasting a bit nicer at this point.
Ending on the sixth steep, the puerh is still strong and the liquor is still dark. I’d keep resteeping but I’m satisfied stopping here.
Not sure I would seek out this type of flavoured tuo cha, but it is nicer than some of the others that come with this set. My favourites are still ripe lavender and raw sticky rice (Nuo Mi Xiang) flavour.
I’m not a connoisseur of puerh tea, so this ebay purchase of 20 different flavoured puerh suits me just fine. The only thing I dislike about it is that the ripe puerh tends to overpower most of the flavouring. And a final note, I tend to like both ripe and raw puerh, so if you’re the sort of person that isn’t sure how much they enjoy those two, I would avoid buying these type of flavoured sets on ebay.
100ml gaiwan, 1 mini tuo, (rinse, 15s steep, +15s resteeps)
Individual rating: 70
Today’s tuo cha is cassia seed and ripe puerh (決明子熟沱). I’ve never tried anything with cassia seed before (that I know of), so I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to detect it here. That being said, I let my last tuo sit a while and it still turned out all right, so I’ll do the same with this one. From a quick Google search I found out that cassia seed is sweet, bitter, salty and may be used as a laxative (yikes!) among other things.
Sipping from the first steep, I noticed right away that this had a very “rounded” flavour. Dare I say, rather enjoyable? Maybe ripe puerh is just growing on me. :P Towards the end of the cup, I’m starting to pick up on a saltiness; presumably due to the cassia seed.
Second steep: pretty much the same experience as the first. Found myself sipping, not paying attention to the flavour and getting lost in the moment.
Third steep: Tea liquor is lightening up a bit, but the flavour is still strong.
Fourth steep: Tea liquor is much lighter, like amber orange. Still flavorful and a bit less pungent. Having fun getting to the bottom of this cup while chilling out and listening to DroneZone (SomaFM online radio).
Individual rating: 70ish. I would consider buying more of this to drink, but I think it is considered to be medicinal and not for regular consumption. It turned out to be more enjoyable than the other tuos, but not a favourite.
Final note: I’m starting to enjoy drinking these ripe tuos quite a bit. It’s definitely an evening/all-nighter sort of thing. Having a touch of insomnia at the moment, and I like choosing this over herbal. I like the very grounded feeling puerh gives me.
Today’s tuo cha is black tea and ripe puerh (红茶熟沱). Within the first two cups, I’m left feeling underwhelmed. The next two were a bit better, but I’m mostly tasting the ripe puerh (slight bitterness, pungent). I let the fifth and sixth steep for a long time (2 and 4 mins respectively), because I thought the black tea might be hiding in there. ;) To my surprise, it wasn’t entirely horrible at 4 mins (6th steep), but it still mostly tastes of ripe puerh. I can kinda get that “tea” flavour coming out, but it is very subtle. This assortment comes with 2 tuos for each flavour, so I may try longer steeps when I get to its twin.
Individual rating: 60 (Adequate). I would rate it lower (due to my disappointment), but it is still very drinkable.
Side note: all of these tuos are brewed in my 100ml gaiwan. I really enjoy the visual presentation of the leaves when you brew with it, and the ease of resteeping. (Plus it was really cheap! lol)
Today’s tuo cha is isatidis radix ripe puerh (板藍根熟沱). The aroma from the liquor smells a bit different, but upon drinking it I couldn’t detect anything that sets this apart. The puerh was drinkable, but nothing about it really impressed me. A very average/“meh” experience. I brewed it 4 times, and stopped there since it didn’t hold my interest.
Individual rating: 60ish. I’d rate it higher but I can’t taste anything beyond the puerh.
So far my favourites have been sticky rice raw puerh and lavendar ripe puerh. When I’m done going through all the tuo cha, I might buy more of those two in larger batches.
Today’s tuo cha is nuoxiang (sticky rice?) raw puerh (糯香生沱).
Anyway, the scent of the liquor intrigued me. It reminds me of corn puffs cereal (seriously). Onto drinking the stuff, it’s actually quite pleasant. There is a sweetness, and refreshing light body to it.
The tuo cha unfurled more on the second steep, and the initial sip was really bitter. It ends on a sweet note (corn puffs!), which I’m attributing to the extra ingredient.
Three and four have the same thing going on, starts of bitter and then smooths out, with a sweet aftertaste.
Individual rating for this is about 75.
Had another one before bed, this time it is ripe puerh and osmanthus (桂花熟沱). I’ve never heard of that flower before, and it could have stayed that way. Yuck! Maybe it’s an acquired taste, but I can’t find anything to appreciate about it. I couldn’t get past the first two steeps.
Individual rating for this would be about 40 (leaves a bad taste in my mouth). The other two ripe puerh I’ve had were ok, so I don’t think the tea itself is horrible.
Today’s tuo cha turned out be more ripe puerh, this time with chrysanthemum (菊花熟沱). One lesson I learned about this one, even before drinking it is to use a tea strainer (the sort you place over the teacup, not to be confused with an infuser). The little bits of flower petals sneak their way out of my gaiwan :|
First steep was ok, a bit light since the tuo cha didn’t break apart.
Second steep is much stronger (yeah it finally broke apart), the ripe puerh and chrysanthemum kinda blend into a coffee like flavour. I noticed this before when I had a similar tuo cha from DAVIDsTEA (which was raw puerh, with bad instructions).
Third steep had a really strong flavour, and was a little bitter (I don’t mind this with puerh). I’m still going at :30 intervals, because the liquor is so dark LOL
Fourth steep, same strong flavour but a bit smoother.
Five and six, I don’t think the tea is awful but I am sure getting sick of chrysanthemum.
About this assortment, through a few ebay postings and another online tea store I can kinda tell by the wrapper colour which one I’m getting. I say kind of because the hue is VERY important. There are quite a few places that sell these assortments of tuo cha.
Including this post, I’ve had 2 tuo cha and they’re both shu. Can’t say I love drinking ripe puerh, but these were enjoyable. Also, I have these little guys inside 2 ziplock bags, and it still has a strong scent. I recommend keeping these away from other tea or scent-sensitive food.
Just got this package today and tried a random tuo cha (there is no English on the wrapper so I never know what I’ll get). It turned out to be ripe puerh and lavender (熏衣草熟沱), which is a surprisingly good combo! I was even able to stomach the ripe puerh for 6 short steeps. So that’s a plus in my book ;)
I had pretty low expectations with this, because I know it’s cheap and flavoured. But the first tuo cha turned out to be pretty good. So far I’m feeling good about this compulsive ebay buy. ($12 for 40 puerh tuo cha).