I don’t know why, but I still get nervous about pu-erhs. I’ve actually never had a bad experience with one—actually just the opposite with one, which I love—but all the same I worry that I will really dislike them based on stories I’ve read. Angel Chen offered to send me the plain ripened pu-erh in a sample but I opted for this rose one instead because I love rose-flavored things and even if this isn’t very rose flavored it was less intimidating. I also don’t have any kind of gong-fu setup, which I feel like I would prefer for most pu-erhs.
Anyway, I’m trying this one today! The little tuocha is cute witha small rose bud set in the bottom of it, and it smells earthy and a tiny bit fishy. I gave it a quick rinse and then steeped to the specified instructions on the package. The tuocha almost completely fell apart in that time, though there is a little lump in the center of my strainer still. The liquor is exceedingly dark brown, and it smells really earthy like a carpet of dried pine needles in the woods.
The flavor I’m getting while still very hot is that oaky, woody, a little sawdusty flavor I tasted in one of the other pu-erhs I’ve tried before. I read K S’s tasting note for this one that says leather, and when I think about it, yeah, it is a bit leathery. Really it’s a flavor/aroma that is deeply ingrained in my olfactory memory, the smell of wood stalls and fresh shavings and leather equiptment that comes from spending most of your childhood in horse stables. That’s not to say that this pu-erh actually smells or tastes like a stable, but rather a few individual components… luckily they’re pretty innocuous ones. There’s also a light sweetness that plays on the tongue toward the end of the sip. No rose here. It’s an interesting flavor, and not one I would want all the time, but very drinkable without any of those off-putting flavors and aromas that can sometimes show up in pu-erhs.