I put it under puerh category, but there are people who don’t believe it should be called a puerh.
This tea looks like a very scary tea to me! Whether it looks scary to you may depend on which photo I show to you :-p The one I uploaded to the database is a scary one, especially if looked enlarged. I will upload more photos on my blog later.
I’ve had a refined version of this tea earlier. The refined version has lots of "golden flowers (yellow fungal growth, which is believed to be beneficial to health, unlike the yellow fungi found in rotten nuts, which is a carcinogen). The fungal look is not scary to me but rather attractive.
This tea brick looks scary to me because it has the most choppy, dry, old and stemmy leaves I’ve ever seen from any tea or tea bricks. But as far as I know, this tea is consumed by many people in northwestern China, and this brand is one of the most famous. So however scary it may look, I know it’s supposed to be drinkable.
I brewed about 3 grams of this tea in a 130ml teapot, first for about 2 minutes, with some left over hot water (probably 190F). The liquor is of yellowish color. The taste is by far not as scary as the appearance of tea leaves. It tastes sweet and woody. Then I brewed it with newly boiled water for a long time (probably 10 minutes) and got a darker, red tea liquor that looked closer to what the tea color is “supposed” to be (as northwestern people who drink this tea on daily basis would boil this tea in water for many minutes and then mix it with milk or butter). The tea tasted stronger this way, but not as strong as many other puerh or non-puerh teas. And it didn’t give more than a few infusions this way.
The dark, red tea liquor looked even to some degree quite pretty and bright. The taste is earthy type of woody. I think some people would like it (if they are not freaked out by the leaves to begin with). People who don’t like earthy flavor may not like it.
When brewed in a pot or cup, this tea has many stems floating on the surface of tea water. In fact, I estimate this tea has about 20% stems in it!
But still, if skipping the scenes and offered only the tea liquor, I think probably most people would even like it, or at least don’t dislike it. It’s not a bad tea. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been the daily tea of many people in northwestern China.
On the other hand, I do like the refined version of this tea much much better, and somewhat believe maybe more traditional drinkers of this tea would prefer the refined version too. In the refined version, there are mainly tea leaves and almost no stems, and tea leaves are of higher grade (not as old, dry or choppy).
But overall, I have very limited experience with this tea and what I’ve had may not be a best representative. One thing missing from the brick I have is the “golden flower” – the yellow fungus that has been traditional seen as a major criterion to evaluation quality of a Fu Zhuan. Without “golden flower”, this tea tastes ok. But maybe it could taste better with some fungal growth :-0
I’ve sent this tea to my Tibetan friend for a few times. But this is the first time I’ve ever opened the wrap myself. I felt it funny that I was brewing this nomad’s tea in a tiny yixing teapot. So I ended my tea session with this tea in a bigger glass with some milk added. This tea is pretty good with milk!