1794 Tasting Notes
Steeping these leaves in a small, ceramic teapot, I would love to say that the smell conjured up old memories of camping trips and the like…but it did not. It was, however, a delightful aroma that wafted from my teapot to my nose. I steeped the leaves for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, a happy compromise when the website suggested 2-3 minutes. Based on my initial impressions of the tea, if you use the correct amount, then 2 minutes is good for a very light tea, and 3 minutes is good if you like your black tea stronger (as I do). Canton Tea Co’s website says that they stored this tea for an extra year to enhance the smokiness and fruit flavours, and I would certainly agree that this has been successful.
The post-steeped leaves are twisted and curly, reddish brown in colour. When I take my first sip, I notice that the smokiness of the tea has a certain subtlety, and the aroma is not overwhelming, as it can be at times with Lapsang Souchong. The tea has brewed a golden brown colour. The forward taste of this tea is light and smooth, while the smokiness dwells in the aftertaste. The aftertaste also contains almost-fruity notes, following the smokiness. These then meld back into a mellow smoked black tea flavour, which is light, almost like a darjeeling.
I would give this tea an 85/100 on my personal enjoyment scale. It was truly a delectable treat.
When I opened the small bag in which the leaves were held, I was immediately intrigued by how different this sheng pu smelled, compared to other pu’erh I have had recently (including other sheng). The aroma of the dry leaf tends toward more of a mossy smell with some tobacco notes. Definitely a crisp smell.
To start off the process of making this intriguing tea, I rinsed the leaves briefly and then went for a 30 second infusion. (I should mention that I am using a small gaiwan.) A lot of the leaves seem to be a bit broken up, but this could have been on account of some transit issues, as there are quite a few large leaves as well. The smell of the wet leaves still maintains its mossiness, but also smells of coffee and tobacco.
The first steeping produced a very light brew. The smell remains the same, which is why the flavour caught me completely off guard. Very rough edges combine with much stronger tobacco notes to almost overwhelm any remaining moss flavour. Then there comes a bit of a sour taste, which was a bit unpleasant, yet somehow fit with the general flavour of this tea.
Time for the second steeping. While the aroma has not changed at all, the edges of the tea have indeed smoothed out. The sourness still remains a bit on the aftertaste, but is not as prominent anymore. Toasted flavours of tobacco and that little bit of moss taste still remain.
Steep number three brings a diminished smell, which I found a bit strange. It was as though the smell had all but disappeared. The taste too has been muted a bit, yet still the same as the previous steeping. Some would call this muted-ness “smoothed”, but I disagree. It is definitely lacking for flavour now.
I put the leaves through another steeping, this time leaving it for a few minutes, to see if this would improve or affect the flavour. The result was not much different. This was a decent pu’erh, but quite green, and had a flavour to match that fact. I give it an 80/100 on my enjoyment scale.
For the preparation and consumption of this tea, I used a small, 6 oz. gaiwan and boiled water.
What struck me concerning the leaves of this particular pu’erh was that some are whole, while others are chopped, ripped, and torn. This typically is not a good sign, as ripped and chopped leaves tend to “steep-out” faster. The smell of the dried leaf is vegetal and green…a leafy smell, not grassy. A bit loamy.
The first thirty second steep produced a medium brown liquor, with a soft smell. The earthy flavour bursts in the mouth, but it brings with it some distinctly rough edges. The aftertaste of this first steep is strong, but the but it has a weak forward taste.
The second thirty second steep brings with it an earthier smell that is also smooth and deep. The tea bites a bit on the aftertaste leaves a hard flavour under the tongue. The flavour of the tea is still full, but not strong. One feels that this steeping is relatively light.
On the third steeping of the same time as the others, the smell is “dirtier” now. The colour is a golden brown, and that bite has almost completely gone away. The flavour is smooth, but a bit weaker than before. This tea certainly lacks forward flavours and much “personality.”
I go on to steep it three more times. The fourth is much thinner and lighter; the fifth is no different; and the sixth, which I left sit for multiple minutes, barely changed anything.
I would give this tea an 88/100 on my personal enjoyment scale. The aftertaste really was quite pleasant. A tea such as this goes to show that age is not everything in a pu’erh.