This has been a bit of a breakthrough tea for me. I first tried it as a sample and was put off by the bitterness. Then I tried it again as part of a tasting group and worked out a way to enjoy it: I prepare it like a green tea—lower water temps. The bitterness is still there around the edges but I slurp this one up, avoiding tasting right with the tip of my tongue, and get the wonderful sweet rich flavor in the back of my throat, a little smoky, a touch earthy, and go through infusion after infusion.
I bought a beeng of this one because I want to age it and follow the changes to see how the bitter flavors change with time. I am not working with selected temp & humidity conditions, nor did I buy multiple beengs—just playing with the idea of aging more than anything else.
I like to give this one a quick boiling water flash rinse, then let sit to hydrate with the water that clings to the chunk of cake, about 2-3 grams in my small gaiwan, infusing about 60-75 mL, while the water in the kettle cools to the desired 170-180 degrees. Then, a bunch of short infusions, 10" or less at first, up to 30+" by the time I’ve done a dozen or two.
I’ve even done this one as a bulk brewing for my thermos, to share with colleagues at work during the afternoon, and gotten a good response. The hard part will be keeping enough intact for some semi-meaningful aging, to watch the young sheng turn into mature puerh.