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Pu erh, here I come. I was a little freaked out by the dry and brewing smell of this, as it was in fact fishy to me. It wasn’t super strong or the worst thing ever or anything, but it was mildly unpleasant and I wondered what I’d gotten myself into (underneath the fish, there was some great stuff though—mushroom mostly). At first sip, I was impressed how light and silky the texture is, no astringency or bitterness, just smooth sweetness. As it cools a bit, leather comes out along with more mushroomy, mossy soil, and while that might sound offputting it’s wonderful. Right at the very end of the cup I start to get intense, dark bricky chocolate.

I’m wondering if I’m missing some vital information to avoid the initial fishy smell (it receded by the time I finished my first steep), something as obvious as a 10 second rinse first or something (I just cavalierly followed the instructions on the package, which mention they’re just general ones). If I can overcome that in the future, I can definitely see enjoying shus. The texture and the way the tea comes across as rich and silky but without that general sweet potato and malt thing going on most of the nicer blacks I’ve tried have (and which I confess I’m getting kind of bored by) is great. It’s so soft but also full of flavor. This seems to be the week of mushroom and wet bark tea love for me, ha.

The second steep smells a bit like classic beef and mushroom stew.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Dexter3657

Personally I rinse all pu’erh. Typically I would just cover the leave with 95C water, and dump it off after 10 – 15 seconds. Replace with fresh water and steep your desired length of time.

ifjuly

Yeah, now I’m reading the boards and rinsing seems standard. Whoops! Otherwise, I’m really enjoying it. (:

Garret

Good advice on the rinse!! In China, with ripe tea, we do 2 rinses of ripe tea, 5 to 10 seconds.

Rinses away dust, primes the leaf, gets the pot good and hot. The more highly processed the tea is, the hotter the temp required. If we pour boiling water into a cold pot over cold leaf, the temp drops 50 or more degrees just like that! So the rinse enables the water to really draw out the flavors.

Insofar as a fishy smell… a younger tea such as this, sometimes has a post-fermentation smell. But… the more skillfully processed ripe teas will lose that smell (and it’s more of a briny, mushroomy smell, rather than truly fishy) within a year or two. However, a less skillfully ripened tea may never lose that smell and it can sometimes be overpowering for more sensitive people.

I just finished the 2013 blend of these same leaves from the same producer. Exciting!

Thank you for writing up the review. Play with your tea :) What you have here in the noble mark is a really well processed blend of leaves, with plenty of room for improvement over the next few years. This tea was also fully tested for contaminants (we are doing this with our private label teas, even though it is costing us more to do so) and sprays and testing perfectly. Only thing in this is TEA! Enjoy. May the best of health be yours, my friends!

ifjuly

Thanks a lot for the advice! Yeah, I’ll definitely rinse from now on. Looking forward to trying the rest of my haul from you guys. (:

Dexter3657

I’m confused – I know it doesn’t take much some days. I ALWAYS preheat my steeping vessel. Doesn’t matter what I’m drinking, I put hot water into the pot/mug/infuser and let it sit for a few seconds. This warms up the vessel so that you don’t loose what temp for steeping. Am I the only one who does this?
This sounds like you use the rinse not only to open the leaves but also to warm up the vessel?
I should be using BOILING water for blacks/pu’erh. I use hot water, just under boiling or so, but never true boiling water.
Maybe I just have some strange ideas………..

Garret

Preheating the vessel is just great. I do that all the time. I pour hot water into the vessel, let it get good and hot, pour it off then place the dry leaf in. I let the heat transfer into the leaf and then smell away. I love bringing all of the senses into the experience!

The rinse of the leaf will really heat things up and prime the leaf to give up its full flavor.

Pu’ers, particularly ripe teas, like a FULL boil. Some will use lower water temps on raw pu’ers, and that is personal preference. Hell, it’s all personal preference, really, but the more processed the leaf the higher the water temp it takes to coax the flavors from it.

It’s fun!!!

Garret

Also… smelling the leaf after the rinse is another great thing to do.

But above all, have fun with it all. Tea is a blast. Tea is so many things. Hip, meditative, joyful, delicious, sweet, fun to share, healthy, hydrating, cool, hot, sexy and groovy!

Dexter3657

Thanks Garret!! Appreciate the insight. I LOVE Noble Mark, but usually steep about 95C. Will try at full boil, is it possible to be any better ?!?!

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Comments

Dexter3657

Personally I rinse all pu’erh. Typically I would just cover the leave with 95C water, and dump it off after 10 – 15 seconds. Replace with fresh water and steep your desired length of time.

ifjuly

Yeah, now I’m reading the boards and rinsing seems standard. Whoops! Otherwise, I’m really enjoying it. (:

Garret

Good advice on the rinse!! In China, with ripe tea, we do 2 rinses of ripe tea, 5 to 10 seconds.

Rinses away dust, primes the leaf, gets the pot good and hot. The more highly processed the tea is, the hotter the temp required. If we pour boiling water into a cold pot over cold leaf, the temp drops 50 or more degrees just like that! So the rinse enables the water to really draw out the flavors.

Insofar as a fishy smell… a younger tea such as this, sometimes has a post-fermentation smell. But… the more skillfully processed ripe teas will lose that smell (and it’s more of a briny, mushroomy smell, rather than truly fishy) within a year or two. However, a less skillfully ripened tea may never lose that smell and it can sometimes be overpowering for more sensitive people.

I just finished the 2013 blend of these same leaves from the same producer. Exciting!

Thank you for writing up the review. Play with your tea :) What you have here in the noble mark is a really well processed blend of leaves, with plenty of room for improvement over the next few years. This tea was also fully tested for contaminants (we are doing this with our private label teas, even though it is costing us more to do so) and sprays and testing perfectly. Only thing in this is TEA! Enjoy. May the best of health be yours, my friends!

ifjuly

Thanks a lot for the advice! Yeah, I’ll definitely rinse from now on. Looking forward to trying the rest of my haul from you guys. (:

Dexter3657

I’m confused – I know it doesn’t take much some days. I ALWAYS preheat my steeping vessel. Doesn’t matter what I’m drinking, I put hot water into the pot/mug/infuser and let it sit for a few seconds. This warms up the vessel so that you don’t loose what temp for steeping. Am I the only one who does this?
This sounds like you use the rinse not only to open the leaves but also to warm up the vessel?
I should be using BOILING water for blacks/pu’erh. I use hot water, just under boiling or so, but never true boiling water.
Maybe I just have some strange ideas………..

Garret

Preheating the vessel is just great. I do that all the time. I pour hot water into the vessel, let it get good and hot, pour it off then place the dry leaf in. I let the heat transfer into the leaf and then smell away. I love bringing all of the senses into the experience!

The rinse of the leaf will really heat things up and prime the leaf to give up its full flavor.

Pu’ers, particularly ripe teas, like a FULL boil. Some will use lower water temps on raw pu’ers, and that is personal preference. Hell, it’s all personal preference, really, but the more processed the leaf the higher the water temp it takes to coax the flavors from it.

It’s fun!!!

Garret

Also… smelling the leaf after the rinse is another great thing to do.

But above all, have fun with it all. Tea is a blast. Tea is so many things. Hip, meditative, joyful, delicious, sweet, fun to share, healthy, hydrating, cool, hot, sexy and groovy!

Dexter3657

Thanks Garret!! Appreciate the insight. I LOVE Noble Mark, but usually steep about 95C. Will try at full boil, is it possible to be any better ?!?!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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Bio

“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

black:
verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

oolong:
verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

green:
verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

white:
butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.

Location

Memphis, TN

Website

http://facebook.com/ifjuly

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