I went into Verdant during my visit to Minneapolis and picked out a couple of things, and then asked for a couple of recommendations from the staff, for something unique and/or exceptionally good. This was one of theirs, and the person I talked to said it was a favourite of all the staff. I don’t have a lot of experience with pu’erhs so I’m excited to be trying this.
The dry leaf has a faint earthy and medicinal smell to it.
I put a few good chunks into my gaiwan and gave it two quick rinses with boiling water. After the second rinse the leaves were just starting to separate ever so slightly. Wet, the leaf smells earthy with a slightly burnt wood note.
My first steep, 5 seconds with just below boiling water. The liquor is bright and clear, a pale amber colour. On the nose, its the same as the wet leaf only fainter. The first cup is very mild tasting, not too much too it. Faint notes of earth, wood and camphor. A slightly pasty mouthfeel.
After a slight break to gobble down a mooncake, to make sure the rest of this sits well in my stomach, on to steep two, five seconds. The leaves are still partially caked together, but this time the liquor is much darker.
Stronger flavour, lots of wood and earth. The camphor has faded out a bit, though I’m getting a slight numbing mouth feel already, and a slight tickle in the back of my throat. Not a lot of nuances yet. I think I will steep a bit longer for my third steep.
Third steep, 10 seconds. The leaf is starting to come apart a bit more, and there’s a new fragrance that’s spicy in my nostrils, maybe more camphor and a touch of juniper. Lots of earth still there.
The liquor is a deep, reddish brown now. On the tongue, still mostly wood and earth, a touch of camphor and numbing, hints of wood smoke (nothing pungent like pine or cedar, maybe maple or poplar). and an interesting, almost sticky mouth feel under the tongue, but fairly silky everywhere else. Long after the sip is done, there’s a pepper and sandalwood note that comes out, and a warming sensation on the back of the tongue. There’s also some berry impressions that I can’t quite pinpoint. This is definitely developing nicely as the leaves open up more.
Fourth steep, 15 seconds. Even now the leaves are still clumped together a fair bit. The liquor is progressively darker, though this steep doesn’t have much fragrance.
Again, that sticky under the tongue mouth feel. Earth, a hint of bitterness, and a nice licorice flavour that quickly fades out to a sweetness on the back of the tongue. More camphor and numbing, and then a surprise burst of citrus on the finish, for just a moment.
Fifth steep, 15 seconds. Woody, earthy, slightly sweet, slightly medicinal. A little bit of smoke and nuttiness on the finish, and an almost slippery, coating mouth feel. A bit of licorice develops at the tail end of the finish.
Sixth steep, 20 seconds. Camphor, earth, a hint of bitterness. Numbing, a bit astringent on the finish. The sweetness and licorice is gone.
Seventh steep, 20 seconds. A bit bitter, smokey, earthy. A touch of sweetness is back, just fleeting mid tongue. The mouth feel is getting pasty again. There’s a sweet, floral note on a very long finish, and the licorice is back a bit.
This is interesting and I like it, but I don’t love it. I think there’s lots of steep left in these leaves. Only by steep seven had the leaves unclumped, so I’m going to set them aside for now and do some more steeps another time, but for now, I’m done.
Flavors: Berry, Bitter, Burnt, Camphor, Citrus, Earth, Floral, Licorice, Medicinal, Nutty, Pepper, Smoke, Spicy, Sweet, Wood