I decided to bite the bullet and try my second-ever pu-erh after having such a negative first experience. I read the little blurb on the sample packet and immediately my imagination took off for the whole duration of the steep. It’s “aged in secret caves?” Visions of the opening scene from Indiana Jones & the Raiders of the Lost Ark played in my mind. But this time the handsome adventurer is trying to steal a bag of this tea instead of an idol. And then my mind shifted gears and I thought of Batman sipping a cup of this tea. Yeah. I have issues.
Back to reality!
The packet smelled kinda musky/earthy. When I was adding the hot water I got an unexpected whiff of french fries. No, not fries, but of the hot oil used. Like when my brother used to work at a fast food chain in high school he’d come home with that greasy smell – that’s the smell I’m talking about. I put the teapot’s lid on and said a little prayer for my palate.
The aroma from the cup was like a barnyard after a light rain. Still not the greatest fragrance, but eons better than the Adagio sample I had that was “dirty fishtank.” It’s the taste that sort of took me aback. It’s so different than what I was expecting. Still not my favorite, but it was much more interesting to me. I spent the first half of the cup just totally absorbed in trying to figure out how to put this taste into words. Like licking a cave’s wall? Making some black tea out of water dripping from a stalactite? Licking a shag carpeting from the ’70s? And where on earth was that sweetness coming from?
Halfway through the cup I sort of got distracted by other things and so came back to it where it’s almost completely cooled off. This is where it really gets weird for me. I have trouble drinking Bigelow’s Constant Comment because it reminds me of my maternal grandmother who passed away when I was a young girl. My mom assures me that she drank it even though I can’t recall her drinking any tea, but in my mind that tea is part of my grandmother. This tea reminds me of my maternal grandfather. He lived much longer and never drank tea. But my lord. I’m drinking this and it’s rather unsettling. This tea is part of my grandfather. I can’t explain it further than that.
I’m actually looking forward to trying a second steep. I never thought that I’d say that about a pu-erh. I will edit to add something if I feel that it affects my initial note. I really don’t know if I’ll purchase this tea. I have a newfound curiosity regarding pu-erhs as a result of it so it gets a surprising NE from me.
ETA: Second steep was more earthy and less…mineraly than the first. I just added a minute to the steep. I’ll probably sample some more pu-erhs, but this one is a possible future purchase.