Does this tea smell like dirt? Yes, this tea smells like dirt. But such is a quality beloved of pu’erh. This sheng, or raw, or uncooked (whichever term you wish to use, each variety of pu’erh is a many-named tea) has a clean and clear aroma.
For this tasting, I use a small seasoned yixing pot, filled approximately a third with leaf. The leaves are rinsed and the first steeping is prepared, letting the leaves steep for about 30 seconds. The first taste conveys the earthy flavour well, along with a few vegetal notes. The liquor is light and smells “wet” with a bit of spiciness to it. The aftertaste seems cool and sits lightly in the mouth.
The second steep, of about 20 seconds, is darker in colour. The flavour is not as intense but is far more robust, flowing strongly through the mouth, giving one the full flavour experience. It almost seems as though there is a hint of minty-ness in the aftertaste for this tea. A bit like peppermint, it seems, like a touch of cool spice. One notices that this steeping remains a bit rough around the edges
30 seconds after again immersing the leaves in water, the third steep appears, as dark in colour as the second, and much the same flavour and aroma profile.
Another 30 seconds. The fourth steep maintains the same deep brown, but not quite dark brown, colouration. The flavours, though, are lighter. I cannot escape the strange cool mint-like aftertaste, which is something that barely comes through in the aroma.
Over the next few steepings, various flavours show themselves more dominantly than others. Vegetal flavours, spicy notes, and the complete earthiness all put their best foot forward as the tea continues to evolve.
The seven-years aging has been kind to this tea. If you are looking for a decent pu’erh for regular drinking, this 2003 Qing Yun Hao will surely fit the bill. I rate it a 75/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.