This was my first decent sheng pu-erh in tuo form.
Compression is extremely tight (like ‘iron cake; tight almost) and it took me a while to figure out how to break this apart without destroying too much leaf (which was futile, as there’s a lot of broken leaf in this already). The leaves really expand a lot after the first three steeps.
After various tastings and working my way through the tuo I realised the more compressed leaf (bottom of the tuo) tastes much more astringent than the slightly looser leaves at the top of the cake.
I put 5g into a 100ml gaiwan and rinsed for 20 seconds with boiling water. The scent from the leaves is vegetal and rich with bitter melon moving toward geraniums, orchids and artichokes – no sweetness detectable at first; but the geranium/orchid floral quality comes out.
Other predominant flavours in this tuo are leather and freshly planed hardwood. I mention honey, but note this tuo isn’t particularly sweet in taste at all.
I had to do flash steeps – starting at less than 5 seconds for the first three steeps. This will make many infusions. You don’t want to over-steep this.
Initial steeps are overtly astringent and strongly vegetal in flavour with no sweet aftertaste, but eventually a mild floral honey-sweet taste does present itself (about 4 or 5 steeps in) – for me in the back of the throat.
As mentioned, I find that the flavour and astringency can vary depending on how broken up the cake is. Whether it is a looser or more compressed portion (more compressed being mostly just bitter). It certainly keeps you guessing as one brew can vary quite a lot from another.
I’ve been taken off guard by some looser leaf portions and had a floral-honey scent develop with a lovely clean sweetness. I would guess this is would be how this tea would age; so the potential is good.
A nice daily drinker, but potentially a real ‘slap in the face’ tea; not for those who only like deep sweet red tea – but a fine example of middle-young puerh. I look forward to tasting it in a few years.
Flavors: Artichoke, Celery, Geranium, Leather, Orchid, Vegetal, Wood