This is my 666 tasting note. Yep, the number of the beast. So I thought about what I would be sipping for this note. The beast in my stash is this one. I bought a large tin (8 ounces I think) over two years ago. I don’t remember what I paid, but it was around $8. This was the nastiest stuff ever – It tasted like dead fish stored in a basement wrapped in wet newspaper. Mmmmm ;) I doused it heavily with chocolate mint just to make it drinkable. It actually tasted really good that way which makes me wonder how bad is the base used in a lot of flavored teas?
Moving on, not gonna dwell. Never willing to throw tea away, I kept it stored away in the nice looking tin. A year ago I tasted it straight. It was beginning to become civilized. So today, one day after Good Friday, and one day before Resurrection day, I am left alone with the beast (kind of needs heavy organ music, lightning flashes, and maybe a shriek). This demon still has a slightly bad aroma, but the taste is not bad at all. It is leather and earth. Kind of sweet. There is nothing off putting in the taste at all. Really, the only negative I can find to complain about is it lacks the depth of better shu I have tried. On the positive, for $8 and two years storage I have a solid everyday puerh that will resteep at least couple times.
I was pretty sure I had the company name wrong on this when I originally posted. Later I found it on the web listed under the name Qiandao Yuye. More recently I found an oolong by the same company listed on Alex Zorach’s tea blog as Starway. Whatever the name, the tin is pretty distinctive so is it is easy to spot on the shelf.
This one has been in the drawer for months without being touched. When I bought it, the smell and the taste were really bad. So bad in fact, I was cutting it with Chocolate mint, which together strangely made for a wonderful drink – read my previous notes. I believe it was Charles who mentioned buying a cheap shu and it becoming quite nice with some age. This tea is probably only a year old but lets see what happens…
The leaf is chocolate brown and has no distinctive odor. That’s a good start. I did a 6 second wash, poured and let the leaf rest a moment, then did a 30 second drinking steep. I have always loved the color of this tea. The first cup is burgundy, and very wine-like. I pour and sniff the leaf. The moldy fish odor is gone! It has been replaced with a mild shu odor :^)
The sip… Holy metamorphosis Batman, I can’t believe this is the same tea! Absolutely none of the nasties that were present last summer. It has been replaced with very mild yet leathery goodness. I am allowing that my judgment may be a bit clouded as my head is still pretty stopped up. Even if I am only half right, this is aging into a nice tea. A few more sips and I am getting that sticky lip feel with my tummy rumbling in appreciation.
Cup two, one minute steep. Darker, more root beer colored. This is a richer more flavorful cup. The longer steep definitely brings out a lot more flavor. There really isn’t anything I would call earthy so far, or for that matter mushroom. Just clean leather.
Cup three, one minute steep. Same root beer color. This is the last cup I have time for today and it’s a good thing as the flavor just dropped of too almost tasteless. So two good steeps with this one or I guess I could add the mint on the third. Hmmm.
Overall not quite the fullness of Teavivre’s Rose Toucha, but at $6 (as I recall) for 6oz this has turned into quite a bargain. Upping the rating.
I brewed this puerh differently today and got totally different results. The water was cooled below boiling. Steeped about 2 minutes. The liquor was not the dark burgundy normally experienced. Instead it was dark caramel and looked more like normal black tea in the cup. The scent was a bit off. It was a bit of a fishy poo odor. That horrible odor is gone now with hotter water. Maybe needs more aging. The taste though was the leather I love, but also deeply earthy. It was like really rich soil. It is not at all musty or fishy in taste. Except for the smell I was quite pleased with this today.
I added a sprig of fresh French Terragon. This helped a lot. It still smells bad but was easily drinkable. The tea is more than up to a second steep but the terragon was not up to the task.
2 grams of leaf and 5 fresh chocolate mint leaves steeped 3 minutes. Added sweetener (Splenda). OMG! This is really good. The stink is gone. The hint of chocolate in the mint really comes through. Tea and herb both are up to a second steep. The mint would not go a third, though the puerh was still ok but getting weak. I could drink this every day. Don’t throw away bad tea. Experiment with it. It might surprise you.