First impression, anyway.
What to say about this one? I ordered it some weeks back from Verdant, along with an oolong, and received a sample of Yunnan Golden buds with my order and a nice note from David. Of the three, the only one I have tried (but sadly not reviewed yet) is the Yunnan, which blew me away with sheer awesomeness. After that, I had high, high hopes for this one, as I’m new to pu-erh and I wanted this to be the great introduction to pu-erh it supposedly is. Plus, I absolutely love corn on the cob – it is just about my favourite food in the entire world.
Even though this is one I would have normally brewed in a gaiwan, I chose to steep it Western style in my Perfect Mug; mainly because my family is taking up the kitchen and I couldn’t be in and out heating small amounts of water at a time. I also put a small amount of sugar in it, because I’m a chicken. I suspect both were tragic mistakes.
First off, the wet smell is incredibly intense. People say this smells like buttered popcorn. I guess I can see how most would say that, but to me the only association I was initially making was baking bread. It’s strong and earthy. That was completely okay with me, a very, very pleasant smell.
Then I got close to the cup and sniffed again. And very suddenly, a very different, totally unexpected and completely unwelcome scent association took over.
You see…when I was little, I wanted to work at the zoo. There were a few people working at our local zoo who sort of recognized me as a bright, curious kid with some learning issues (rather obviously ADD), and they tried to encourage me as much as they could. At some risk to their jobs, they snuck me into back areas only staff and researchers were supposed to see, they let me feed all sorts of animals (including hippos and alligators), and they eventually let me take over some snake demos in the Reptile House.
The Reptile House was my favourite, and I wanted to work there when I grew up. I was obsessed with it, and my father spent the summer I was nine obligingly taking me to the zoo every week where I spent hours in the Reptile House alone. I spent much of my time there running around, butting in on families before my father could catch me and excitedly lecturing the other visitors about the reptiles, as well as impulsively pre-empting the actual staff trying to give demonstrations… Until they finally just wrapped a snake around my body and let me temporarily take over the live snake lectures/demos in the house. (“Yes, you can touch him. Don’t worry, he’s not a dangerous variety. No, he’s not slimy! Feel, he’s dry and leathery. See? Look, if you stroke his underbelly, he’s very soft and ticklish.”) I don’t think they even are allowed to do that anymore, to protect the creatures.
But yes, the zoo. The smell of the zoo! I loved it. The straw, the dung, and especially the smell of the Reptile House – hot and muggy and musty.
At the time. At the time, I loved it.
But I don’t want to smell straw, dung and reptile swampwater in tea, and suddenly I did. Still can. It flips my stomach every time I bring the cup to my mouth, and I only wish I had just kept smelling bread.
The taste. Well, I don’t know. It’s quite light. I didn’t taste corn at all at first. As the cup cooled, I finally started to taste something quite similar to corn. Although it certainly isn’t overwhelmingly corn-y. I don’t eat grocery store corn, mind you, I wait all year for the juicy stuff brought straight from the fields that day. So I’m sure my expectations for a corn taste were way, way too high. Beneath that is an earthy taste I’m sure is the tea itself. I’m not sure what sort of tastes I might have killed by fearfully adding sugar; although I will also point out that since I only eat corn rolled in butter, pepper and seasoning salt, I added a pinch of both salt and pepper to the latter half of this cup and that certainly made for an interesting profile which is maybe even closer to corn on the cob in my mind.
I don’t know. I’m not at all sure how I feel about this. I think I need to try it a few more times, as well as in a gaiwan and clear before I will feel comfortable giving it a tentative rating.