My first experience with Pu-erh was a bit frightening. The tea was fishy and had an odd color and was simply a turn off. My wife has since taken to calling all of these teas Poo-air.
Since then, I’ve had much better experiences with Pu-erh and this is the best so far. This was my first time using the tuocha form, but it was fairly intuitive. It’s a small pressed capsule that looks like a plug of used chewing tobacco. It’s soft enough that you can crumble off what you need with your fingers.
This tea brews to almost black with a very faint “slick.” I describe the fragrance as “oceanic.” Unlike what the name would lead you to believe, I really picked up less camel territory and more shark. There’s a definite kelp and seaweed presence and, as CTG’s tasting notes mention, it’s definitely briny. As it matures, you begin to pick up faint notes of clean hay and a sweet, peat-like earthiness.
What was unusual (and somewhat pleasant) about this tea is that there seemed to be a constant play between sweet and salty. One sip might start out sweet and move towards salty and the next is the reverse.
On the second and subsequent infusions, the tea leaves the ocean for land. It does become more mossy and sweetens even further. When I first saw the size of the tuocha (slightly smaller than a quarter) I didn’t think it would go far. However, this was made for multiple infusions and you have to go past four or five to experience the entire taste range.