This is my other free sample of Verdant Teas’ new Alchemy Label Blended teas. Pu-ers have always kind of intimidated me based on others’ descriptions, but I’ve only had one so far and that was a flavored one that I very much enjoyed. I chose this one as a sample because the floral pu-er sounded interesting. The leaf is dark with lots of whole chrysanthemum buds and pieces of orange and lemon rind. The aroma of the dry leaf kind of surprised me; I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the blend really reminds me of the scent of tea tree oil. Which I like, but was unexpected. I’m not sure I really can think of what a chrysanthemum flower smells like, so perhaps that’s adding to the scent.
I brewed the tea based on the western style brewing instructions for the base pu-er on Verdant Teas’ website, which included two rinses. The resulting cup is very dark, the color of dark chocolate. The aroma of the steeped cup is very different from the dry leaf, which is interesting because during the rinses I was still smelling the tea tree oil aroma from the leaf, but now it seems to have disappeared. But I can still smell it on the wet leaf, which really makes me think its the chrysanthemum flowers that are now sitting, wet, in the steeping basket. Anyway, the aroma of the liquor is woody and earthy and a little piney. It very much reminds me of hiking in the pine barrens (a type of forest environment made up pine trees with little undergrowth) out here on Long Island. When I inhale deeply I am realizing that the tea tree (chrysanthemum?) aroma isn’t gone, it is what’s giving it that piney aroma. It comes out more as the tea cools.
The flavor is light and very reminiscent of the aroma. The first note is really the pine-tree-wood flavor, which mellows into an earthy, slightly minerally flavor in the main body of the sip. Every once in a while I get the faintest hint of sweetness in the aftertaste. It’s a really interesting tea… not one I would drink all the time, but definitely a cup I enjoy. I’m kind of at a loss as to how to rate this one; on one hand, I think it’s probably a very good example of it’s kind and someone really into pu-ers would probably rate it very highly; on the other hand, I think I am not really that kind of person. Then again I haven’t had hardly any pu-ers, so who knows. Anyway, I think I’ll take the average and stick it in the high 80s. I have been very impressed with the new Alchemy line, and will likely try some other blends on my next order!