Let it be said that the ability to describe the tastes of sheng puerhs has always evaded me, like those dreams that seemed so pleasant but you can’t really remember just what they were about. All the roasty-toasty oolong vocabulary just doesn’t work. So my task now is destined to fail, but must nevertheless be undertaken. Because this white-bud sheng from Norbu, which I tasted for the first time today, produces a pretty amazing experience.
Routine brewing in a tiny pot. First sip seems to make a small explosion in my mouth, like the tastes are shooting sideways across my palate and tongue. I taste steamed yellow squash, very precisely. But almost none of the characteristic sheng camphor. There’s something else that I can’t quite say: maybe caramel, yes, or maybe really good whole wheat toast eaten outside near a honeysuckle bush? But the amazing thing is how sweet and how full the nectar is. Does tea have sugars in it like wine or milk?
Second infusion. I think I actually shivered. Second infusion is even better. Camphor just whispers but not medicinal like other shengs. This one would be undetectable except that it’s camphor wrapped in sugar. And the liquid is now even richer. A tiny bit of earthiness, not loamy like old puerth, just fresh earth and a tiny pinch of grass clippings.
I think it does an injustice to say this is a good starter puerh; I think you have to have struggled with sheng first to see how different this is. I look forward to more time with this.
But… I have only a small sample. And Norbu is out of it (lifts the back of his hand to his forehead and sighs). The stuff of dreams.
2007 White Bud 250g Sheng Pu-Erh Tea Cake
-Producer: Norbu Enterprises Private Production
-Vintage: Spring 2007
-Compression Date: 11/08
-Growing Region: Yong De County, Lincang
This beautiful White Bud Pu-Erh Bing Cha is the first private production for Norbu Tea, and I am very proud to be able to offer it! It is composed entirely of pure white buds that were hand harvested from cultivated Yunnan varietal tea plants grown in Yong De county of Lincang Prefecture near China’s border with Myanmar. It was harvested in the Spring of 2007 and was processed at a small facility in this rather remote area of Yunnan.
One thing to keep in mind about this tea is that it is not a conventional white tea. White teas are simply picked and dried, while this was processed just like other Pu-Erh teas. It was picked, withered, pan fired, and sun dried, creating a flavor profile that is different and more assertive than conventional white tea. It has a bit of a sweet malty flavor with very little of the bitterness common to other young Sheng Pu-Erh. This is an excellent starting point for people who are new to Pu-Erh in general because of its mildness, but it is also an excellent change of pace for people who are lovers of the many different forms that Pu-Erh can take.