I’ve actually started to radically change how I brew this tea. I used to brew fermented pu-erh for long stretches of time (10, 15 minutes, sometimes longer). Based on some reading, and mostly on a whim, I started doing 1 minute steeps.
I still don’t hold to this business of throwing away steeps (rinsing). If you’re entertaining guests, I could see doing a rinse for a few seconds just to ensure you don’t serve dusty tea. But I’ve read about people doing 5 minute steeps and then chucking it. I just don’t get the point of something like that. Especially now that I’m doing these shorter steeps.
The first steep, even at this short time frame, is still very dark and strong. One thing I do notice with this approach is that some favors begin to emerge that are more familiar with a raw pu-erh and which I hadn’t found in a fermented before. Those “construction site” or “cabin in the sun” flavors I’ve talked about in the past.
One interesting development is that I believe this infamous impact on one’s “chi” is a lot more in evidence with these shorter steeping times.
At least for this particular tea, I would strongly recommend making 5-7 steepings of very short duration for best results. (This explains why so many traditional pu-erh pots are so tiny.)