One of my sipdown goals this year was to do more gong fu brewing. This is a type of brewing that simply doesn’t fit into my “normal work week” (which involved taking either a warm thermos or cold water bottle of tea with me to work and drinkng that for the full eight hours, then having to switch to herbal infusions after I get home). So I’m trying to get in a session on my weekends off, and since I took next week off for staycation (gotta use-it-or-lose-it with the vacaton time), perhaps I’ll manage a few more over the week.
I tend to sort of “ignore” or “avoid” the pu’erh in my collection for a few reasons: firstly, I just can’t seem to warm up to the taste of it no matter how hard I try, how I brew it, what have you, which leads to the second, I tell myself that just maybe it won’t taste so foul if I “let it age” for eons in the back of the cupboard (so far, this never seems to work out for me though). This particular one I remember ordering some time ago at my local coffee haunt, Twin Beans, which sources a small amount of teas from TeaSource. They only do western brewing with small teapots there, I thought it tasted ghastly (but made it through my pot), and decided to buy some of the leaf from them because somewhere in my head I thought it would magically “be better” if brewed gong fu style instead. I never wanted an ounce of pu, but they sold by the ounce, so that was the smallest amount I could get. So I have more of this than I care to have, and it is probably time to see if brewing it gong fu actually makes it any better…
180ml mini pot | 9g | 205F | Rinse/10s/13s/16s/19s/22s
The wet leaf aroma after the rinse is that of bitter melon, sour vegetables, and a bit of tobacco smoke. The liquor of the first infusion smells the same. It… still tastes ghastly to me. It’s the tobacco taste! That may just be my most disliked note in all of tea-dom, banana-aversion aside. It’s just thick and coating and so prevalent I can’t even try to focus on any of the other flavors in the tea. Just so bitter and ashy. Ugh. The second infusion shows a bit of improvement; I’m still getting a sticky, drying tobacco smoke taste left on my tongue which is highly unpleasant, but during the sip the flavor is more of a slightly sour vegetal note, with a bit of that “marshy” taste I typically get from pu’erh. Third infusion became even more of that “swamp marsh” taste, which isn’t my favorite, but much better than the tobacco/bitter tastes. It became easier to drink the further into infusions I went, but never became “enjoyable” for me. Even when the sip became easier to swallow, I always had a somewhat bitter and ashy aftertaste that I just couldn’t get behind. I surprised myself for making it through five steeps.
Definitely not my cuppa, mostly because of the tobacco notes. I don’t like greens with that taste, either. Might sound sacriledge, but I think I’m going to add peppermint to the rest and try cold brewing and see if I can’t get more of a Moroccan Mint taste where the peppermint masks the tobacco taste a bit (as it does with Gunpowder Green, another tea I don’t like because of the tobacco flavors), as I find that easier to swallow. There is simply no way I’d finish off the rest of the leaf this way.
Flavors: Ash, Astringent, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Drying, Mineral, Smoke, Sour, Tobacco, Vegetal, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks