8 steeps, 8-45 seconds varied.
This has been one of the best ESGREEN mini tuo cha pu-erhs so far. I should also plug the sale that they are having right now on some fantastic Ju Pu pu-erhs that have been aged inside of hollowed out tangerines and pomelos. Not to mention 10 year aged tangerine peel for an herbal tea. The tangerine added a light honey flavor and a carrot-like sweetness to the otherwise dry, vegetal tea. Some of the early steeps yielded a somewhat unpleasant smell, but overall it was a very comforting experience.
Into the 3rd and 4th steeps, the color of the liquid become much darker while the flavor got brighter. The 5th steep brought forth those peppery flavors that I have becoming accustomed to in these pu-erhs, but also something new: licorice. Even the consistency of the tea became slightly sticky at this point, a bit thicker than before. In the 6th steep, there was an interesting minerality present. Though that could just be a quality from my water that the tea is bringing out. (As David from Verdant Tea points out in his fantastic article, water is the first ingredient in tea… http://verdanttea.com/the-first-ingredient-in-tea/)
Finally on the 7th and 8th steeps, some carob and malty notes as the liquid looks almost like coffee in color. Speaking of, I have to add that I have been enjoying the caffeine content of these pu-erhs. Buzz!
Another enjoyable aspect of this tea can be seen upon pouring out the brewed leaves for inspection: big fat chunks of tangerine peel amongst the umber leaves.
I have drank a number of these flavored mini tuo chas from ESGREEN now and I would have to say that overall they are about restaurant quality, which is right for the price I think. Most enjoyable when prepared properly in the gongfu style.