I think by now that it’s official that I’m a fan of pu-erh. I find myself craving it a lot. The cooked version, at least!
takgoti sent me this, and I’ve been waiting to try this one for a while, since it’s supposed to be a really good one. I have to admit, the name really makes me giggle. It’s sounds like Victorian pornography.
But actually, the smell was a bit of a turn-off. For some reason, I was getting a bit of a smell of fishiness off my sample. Nothing strong, and the main smells were earth and super-dark sweet (think molasses), but it was kind of there.
Anyway, so I gave the super-dark-chocolate leaves a rinse with boiling water before allowing them to steep. I guess I should mention that the rinse water, upon dumping, already smelled pretty pu-erh delicious!
I love steeping pu-erh, just because its color is so dramatic. On the pour, it’s such a brown-black, practically opaque brew. Thankfully, the smell coming off the wet leaves and the cup was nothing fishy. Instead, there’s a deep earth smell, a fairly smoky smell (more gunpowder smoke than lapsang? It doesn’t really have a savory quality…), and a hard-to-detect sweetness. It’s very akin to other pu-erhs I’ve tasted.
The taste here is a lot smoother and light and refined than I was expecting! The only other plain pu-erh I’ve had is Golden Moon’s, which has a bit more body and intense flavor. Then again, it could be because of my lower steep time for this puppy. There’s a really nice earthy edge, mixed with a sort of smokey goodness. Pu-erh doesn’t really taste like dirt to me. It’s more soil-like. That smell of fresh-tilled soil in the sun. This develops into a subtle sweet note. It’s not overbearing or cloying or false. Maybe a bit raisin-like? It’s almost fruity. But a dark fruit. A fruit that I don’t think exists. The aftertaste is very autumnal. Wet leaves on a rainy day.
From the wet leaves, and sometimes from the taste, I’m getting this almost bake-y quality. I’m picturing something like a molasses bread. Even though I’m not quite sure if that even exists. I’m only getting it on a few sips, but when it happens, it’s unusual enough to take note. The complexity of this beastie is pretty amazing.
I’m hoping that subsequent steeps of this one are great, because so far so good!
So, the Second Steep (4:00, boiling) was a bit thinner than the first, but a lot of the earthy and smoky complexities were still present. Still very nice, indeed. The infusion was a bit lighter than the first, but it had the smell of a typical pu-erh. Which I take to be a good sign, since once the liquid doesn’t smell like it’s supposed to anymore, then it’s done.
The Third Steep (4:00, boiling) is even lighter than the second. We’re approaching something that looks more akin to black tea than to coffee! The smell is still soil-rich, but now the taste has evolved significantly. The smoke and earth elements have taken a back seat to the sweetness, which has evolved into a raisin taste, perhaps dusted with a bit of brown sugar. I can’t get out of this molasses theme. Let’s see how long this baby can go on! I should note that this might be the best resteep I’ve had thus far in my tea adventures.
It’s time for the Fourth Steep! (5:00, boiling) My wet leaves smelled a bit sweeter now, and but the infusion still smells like good-old pu-erh. The color of it is definitely akin to a black tea although something about the under-tint is off. A little purple, maybe? Whatever. Anyway, the taste on the first sip was kind of… WEIRD. Like charcoal, followed by intense sweetness. Serious sweetness. Sweet like white tea or green tea sweet. Well, actually it’s a bit muskier than that, but it’s lingering on my tongue in a similar way.
Now, here’s where it gets really weird. As it cooled, it started to have this kind of rotten taste to it. Really, really off-putting and very off. Like ripe garbage. Or like really, really over-ripe and blackened fruit. Not cool. Really, really gross, actually. Not cool at ALL. So I had to dump the cup, and I’m dumping the leaves as well. I also can’t get the sweet flavor out of my mouth. Maybe the leaves picked up a smell or something? Or a taste? But it’s seriously one disgusting flavor.
Yeah, no. Dumping the leaves. But at least the first three infusions were pretty good!