Ok, I think I’ve figured this one out.
I’ve been drinking a lot of this tea the last few days, trying to find the right way to brew it.
You may remember (if “you” existed and actually read my stuff) my earlier post about this, and how it was rather bitter.
Well, after much fiddling I’ve concluded that a low temperature (for shu pu’er, at least; ~90˚C) and short (sub-30 sec) steep are what make this tea happy. It’s still bitter, but not in an unpleasant way. It’s like really dark chocolate – the high cocoa stuff.
It still smells like pine forests, but there’s hints of malt, charcoal, burnt sugar and cocoa in there too.
It’s a very dark brew – almost murky. I think I’m still using a bit too much.
My main issue with it is the dust. Oh, the dust! Whether I rinse once or twice, and even after six steeps, there’s an abundance of fine particulate matter that settles to the bottom of the chahai and cups when left for a minute or two.
It’s not gritty dust (that’s caught by the tea strainer). It’s like… it’s like the scaly, feathery dust that comes off of a moth’s wings when you grab it and put it back outside. It’s not noticeable in the mouth, but it’s hard to miss in the bottom of the cup.
But, I’ve come to enjoy this tea.
It’s smooth, almost creamy. It’s like strong black coffee, but with almost a dark rum-like flavour and chocolatey overtones.
I still don’t know how authentic it is, for two reasons:
- The little piece of paper embedded in the cake is really embedded in the cake. I’ll have to drink a lot of this tea before I can get it out.
- Said little piece of paper appears (from what I can see) to be devoid of the micro-markings that are used as proof of authenticity. This may be because it’s not authentic (which wouldn’t surprise me), though I read somewhere that they only started using the micro-printed paper in 2007 – who knows.
Time to have another round or two!