Thank you to mrmopar, my friend, for this tea sample
Very quietly and slowly I have been enchanted by Pu-erh over the past 9 months. Now, I am in LOVE. It is my favorite tea, especially
Shu (shou) Pu-erh.
For some time, I’ve wanted to talk about why I love it so much and now I’m going to try to share how I feel about it.
Imagine your own private place of wilderness peace.
The Blue Ridge Mountains in the Fall, Yosemite, the Redwoods, Kauai, the Rockies of Canada or Colorado. The Catskills or a Beach. The forests of Denmark and England. A city central park.
That is a beginning place to first reach down to the earth and begin to understand Pu-erh.
Pu-erh requires all of your sensory memory and shares a place with no other tea.
Pu-erh, both Sheng or Shou, is grounded to the earth in a unique way because of how it is processed. Dirt, soil, mushrooms, nuts and berries, spices, cocoa, vanilla and tree bark are common taste and aroma profiles. The scent of bread or leather in the wet leaves.
My own vision when I drink Shu (or Shou) Pu-erh is of the Redwoods in Northern California where much time in my life was spent.
The scent memory of redwoods is a strong one, and the vision of giant trees and dappled light streaming down to the forest floor is something I will always be able to close my eyes and see.
In Paradise California I lived in the forest with huge oak trees and Pine Trees around my house, which called for clearing leaves every Saturday in the Fall. An acre of leaves. Tarps full of leaves. And again more memories of musty, damp and dusty earth.
Working at the Fortino Winery in Morgan Hill, California…I acquired the scent of Old Vines and wet dirt clods after the rains. Empty barrels sour with the scent of oak and wine.
Damp cellars full of cobwebs and dust. Small wineries, big wineries, organic ones, some damp and some dry.
Napa, Sonoma, Calistoga, Murphy’s, Morgan Hill, Saratoga, Monterey, Paso Robles and Santa Ynez. Each with a different ecosystem.
All of this has everything to do with how I approach Pu-erh.
My love of the Earth, the way I love food and cooking. It all comes together as how I experience my favorite tea.
On to the review!
I began with a 30 second rinse followed by steepings 1-5 at 30 seconds. Steepings 6-7 were 40 seconds. Steeping 8 a minute.
I used a 6oz. purple clay Gaiwan that I use only for Pu-erh.
The liquor began as Autumn Gold then changed to Golden Rust Red. Very Beautiful and clear.
1. Thick and earthy sweet. My mouth felt a numbing sensation then a coolness and flavor of cedar very light at the finish followed by a spiciness.
2. The wet leaves had an aroma of vanilla. The flavor was smooth, silky to the point of almost being creamy with a sweet vanilla plantain taste. As this cup cooled there was a light cedar taste.
3. The liquor smelled bready and tasted delicious, sweet, with an energy that was exciting. How can I describe a flavor that’s exciting?
It was like an inner light was turned on. A sustained POP ROCK without the annoying sizzle. Refreshing!
This was silky smooth, mellow, sweet and very good. There was hardly any trace of cedar but more like vanilla cake with a little cinnamon heat at the end.
4. Beautiful, sweet with great energy and no earthiness although you CAN smell the cedar.
5. More energy again and smooth. This was a little warmer tasting, with a spicy cinnamon bread and cedar flavor at the end.
6. and 7. Here’s where I took the steeping to 40 seconds. The liquor was nice and dark! Yum! Still this was a smooth, cinnamon sweet cup of Pu-erh!
8. A longer 1 minute steep with additions for all those lovers of cream and sugar! (I do not care what the purists say about doing this, I care more about getting people to drink Pu-erh!)
This tasted like a very good spicy vanilla latte. I loved it!
This is a rich and above average Pu-erh. Smooth, silky with lots to give for many rich steepings. There was vanilla, light cedar (not too much) and spice for warmth. Good energy and sweetness without being too sweet with a hint of cinnamon heat.
The earthiness is very, very tame. A great beginner Pu-erh!