When this tea arrived in the mail, the envelope smelled like diesel fuel. I’ve had a package or two in the past the smelled like it traveled under a truck rather than in one, so I wasn’t too surprised, but I was concerned about how this would affect the flavor of the tea. The envelope was not as well sealed as it could have been, leaving room for debris to potentially enter at the edges. I transferred this tea to another container and put off sampling it for a while because I was afraid of how it might be after such a journey.
I used all 8g that I received and brewed in a gaiwan (I don’t have a yixing pot yet!)
Wet leaves after 10s rinse smell like spinach and dirt
1st infusion 10s: first cup brews golden yellow. Taste is vegetal (like spinach) and mineral; also bitter and astringent.
2nd infusion 15s: brews slightly darker than before. Smells more earthy and less vegetal. taste is more bitter and astringent than before, masking the other flavors. But not so much so to be unbearable. There is something citrus and possibly floral, but it could just be the tartness making it seem so.
3rd infusion 20s: So bitter! I hope it gets better as the other reviews have suggested.
4th infusion 25s: less bitter (thank goodness!) but mineral flavor dominates. I’m really not too fond of strong mineral flavor in my teas, so I’m not enjoying this too much so far. there is some other earthy flavor lingering in the aftertaste, but I can’t describe it precisely.
5th infusion 35s: more bitter again, still mineral flavor. I don’t know where the rest of you are getting the other flavor notes that you describe. Maybe my tea really was affected in transit. I just don’t feel much like steeping this one anymore.
I’ve had a couple other green pu-erhs and there were sweeter and not so bitter. Maybe this one is better suited for aging rather than immediate consumption.
Nicholas just sent me a rather novel-ish response to my review, concerned that my opinions will affect the reputation of his tea and asked that I might edit my review. While I appreciate his concern and the time taken to write and to answer previous questions of mine, I feel that his “concern” was unnecessarily accusatory. I realize that my novice tea brewing skills as well as the poor packaging of the tea affected my review of it, so I did not give this tea a numbered rating because I knew that wouldn’t be fair. I gave my honest opinion and I don’t see how I can ‘edit’ my personal experience with this tea other than to note his suggestions for improvement so that the rest of you won’t make my mistakes:
Water temperature: He suggested that I used the wrong temperature of water and said that he took an effort to instruct us how not to ruin the tea so that this wouldn’t happen. He said I should have used cooler water (I actually never said what temperature I used, so I don’t know how he should know). No where in the original instructions did it say so. this is quoted from the instructions: "The water temperature of 195 degrees (F) boiling, or just boiled, water is preferred. Unlike Green teas and other delicate tea leaves, Pu’er has the strength to endure boiling or very hot water. "
The reply I just got says “Spring water at about 180 degrees, not boiling, will be most suitable for a green pu’er”
Admittedly, I found it difficult at times to distinguish when the original instructions referred to sheng or shu or green puerh. It was not clear and even contradictory in a few places. Still, absolutely nowhere other than the quote above did it mention water temperature. Also, if this green puerh is to be treated like a green tea, then why did I receive such lengthy instructions on how to brew shu or aged puerh?
Water type: he says "As for the mineral taste, perhaps the water you used caused this. " I have a water filter attached to my faucet and if the tea should be so ruined by my filtered water, then I don’t know what else to do.
Steeping time: I am now told that: " Soaking the tea for more than a second or two its first steepings takes the good out of the tea and you end up with several steepings more of already-injured leaves." Original instructions: “The first wash should simply be 5 seconds or so. Whereas the second can be as much as 10.” so sure, I did more than 5, but the instructions also say “Steeping times: This is a wonderful example of when personal preference plays a role.” And I have always done my first pu-erh rinses this way and I liked them quite fine.
Amount of leaf: I learn now that “8 grams is far too much for one sitting of Pu’er, no matter how big your pot or what kind of preparations you are using. We usually recommend starting with 2 grams to 4-5 grams…anything more will only make an astringent tea”
Original instructions: “If fewer people, it is best to use around 5 to 9 grams, for many people 15 grams is perfect.”
I get the impression that the original instructions sent were generic. If there were different or special considerations to give this green pu-erh, they should have been noted and the superfluous information omitted.
UPDATE 5/24: All confusions have been cleared up and all is well between Misty Peak and myself. I am still not certain what was up with the original erroneous instruction, but hopefully those of you who haven’t brewed it yet will see this review and know how to get the best out of your samples.