I chose this one as my final evaluation sample from Arbor Teas, as I’ve had good experiences with tuo chas in the past and wanted to see how this one measured up. I like that each piece is individually wrapped – it just appeals to the packaging nerd in me. The smell of the cake is mild, with a little bit of grain/cereal to it.

I gave it a quick rinse in hot water and then set it up for four minutes of steeping. The resulting liquor was dark and cloudy brown, and did not have the same level of reddishness to it I’d gotten used to seeing in pu-erhs. My first impression of the flavor was its full and savory character – similar in that way to the Camel’s Breath tuo cha from CTG, but dialed back just a bit.

This does not have the wonderful sweetness I got from Arbor Teas’ special grade pu-erh, but it does have lots of deep, stewy flavors. This might sound crazy, but I can actually imagine this iced next to a plate of ribs. Okay, that might actually be really nasty, but those are the kinds of flavors this one reminds me of. Looks like there’s plenty of strength left for multiple steeps, so I’m planning to give this another couple rounds later today.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Grandma introduced me to tea as a kid (lipton with milk and sugar; a bit poured into the saucer to cool it down and then sipped from there), and I’ve never looked back. Still have a slight preference for teas that go well with milk (or even better, cream) and sugar, but since Grandma’s day I’ve branched out to appreciate green and white teas, rooibos and pu erh. Absolutely love Mariage Freres!


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