Alright, so this is my first time making pu-erh, and it was mostly a disaster, though I think I was able to salvage the experience a bit.
I don’t have anything similar to a gaiwan, and at this point, I don’t know what I would do with one if I did. So, I was forced to steep the tea “western style.” My plan was to use two pieces/cakes for a bit over 8 oz of tea (which was probably my first mistake). So I put two pieces in one teapot, poured boiling water into it to let it steep, and then transferred the liquid over to a separate teapot for serving. I read something that said you should first “rinse the leaves,” so I did that. After that:
First steep: was terrible. I basically used two pieces (~11 g) of tea with a little over 8 oz of water, and steeped for two minutes. It tasted HORRIBLE. It was extremely bitter, and essentially tasted like mud. I’ve had pu-erh before (prepared by someone who knew what they were doing), so I knew that I had done something wrong.
Second steep: Using the same leaves, I poured in more water (maybe ~12 oz?) and steeped it for only one minute. This was noticeably better, but still a little more harsh than I remember it being.
Third steep: I used MORE water (~13-14 oz) and steeped it for 45 seconds. This was when it started getting pretty good, much more similar to the smooth earthy-leathery taste I remember from previous times trying pu-erh.
Fourth steep: Same as the third. I started noticing it get a bit weaker, and I was getting a bit tired of the whole process, so I stopped here.
So. That was my experience. By the third and fourth steeps, it tasted excellent, so I’m sure that this specific tea is excellent. Either way, I’ve yet to try a tea from Teavivre that wasn’t spectacular. I got this as a free sample from another order, so I feel bad for screwing it up, I kind of only had one chance. Oh well.
If any of you can see what I’m doing wrong, please let me know. I’d love to hear some pu-erh tips.