First things first: You MUST have a puerh pick for this brick (or be ready to steam it). I made the mistake of bringing this brick (sans pick) to a friends house since the pictures make it look like you can just pick off a couple leaves to try this tea. But after both of us took our turns chopping, prying, and stabbing this brick to no avail, we had to abort. So, I decided to do something new: steam and dry this brick!
Using a smaller, taller saucepan (with lid) and a mesh ladle, I was finally able to jam my pick in there after about 3-5 minutes of steaming. After scraping, poking, and breaking the brick apart, I was able to turn this rock into 100g of leaves, stems, and buds with relatively little dust. This method works great! I allowed the leaves to dry on a couple foil sheets overnight, and tossed it into a glazed stoneware jar to (hopefully) breathe and age nicely afterwards.
I figured I had to sample this one at the outset to see how it tastes, and was very pleasantly surprised to find a tea with tons of smokiness and very little bitter edge. The first couple infusions were more astringent and felt dryer on the back of my throat, while the later ones felt softer on my tongue with a sweeter aftertaste. Neat! I’m not sure if the steaming made it taste smokier (to me), but I’ll report back once this tea has a little time to breathe.
Personally, I like the smoky, umami notes this tea has; and look forward to seeing how it ages now that it’s all broken up. This $5 “tuition brick” was a great pick!