Trying this in the gaiwan today. Have just enough left to do something else with it. Not sure what. Maybe try it in the yixing again.
I am somewhat intimidated by pu-erh, though I like what I’ve had of it generally speaking. I’m just never sure I’m “doing it right” and since pu-erh can be pricey I’ve been reluctant to start with some of the things I know to be good in my stash.
Let me say that another way. It’s more accurate to say I believe them to be good based upon the word of the companies I’ve patronized because, as recent threads here have indicated, there’s a lot of room for everything from misunderstandings to getting ripped off particularly with regards to pu-erh. Which is one of the reasons it intimidates me.
In any case, most of my experience so far has been sort of the toe in the pool method rather than diving in head first. Because intimidated.
So here’s another toe in the water effort. I went for very short steeps after rinsing. Starting in the immediate range (1-3 seconds) and increasing by five seconds each time.
1. Very dark and opaque, like black coffee. Smells like a saddle. Tastes a bit salty and a little like potting soil. I think this is what tasters mean when they say mushroom, as raw white mushroom doesn’t taste like much to me except a little like dirt, and that’s what I’m getting here.
2. Same look to the tea, if anything a bit darker and a bit more opaque. Rather like flat cola. Still some leather in the aroma. But smoother and something else, too. Tobacco, maybe. The flavor is less salty, and actually quite smooth. It just doesn’t taste like an awful lot to me.
3. Color is the same. Less leather and more earth in the aroma. Gosh, this steep still doesn’t taste like much but it’s weird. It’s like the tea is trying to taste like something but can’t quite pull it off. A little like meat, maybe, but not in a lapsang sort of way. More like a shroomy meatiness.
4. No change on the color. No change on the aroma. Flavor is still trying to be something more than it is. There’s a tad of sweetness this time around.
5. Still dark brown but no longer opaque. There is something that makes me think of gravy in the aroma, though I’m not sure why as the salt and leather is pretty much gone. Perhaps its flour? The flavor is sweetening up some, and becoming leafy. There’s no leaf flavor listed among the options except autumn leaf pile, so that’s what I’ve picked.
6. Color similar to 5. I no longer think of gravy when I smell the tea. The flavor is brighter, and I can taste the water through the tea, which I think is a signal to me to stop here. I suppose I could push it further and see if anything miraculous happens in later steeps but I’m not excited enough by this to do that.
I have to rate this less as compared to other teas since I haven’t had many pu-erhs (certainly not many recently) and more on an absolute scale.
Assuming I’m doing it anywhere close to “right,” even if this tea was still available I can’t imagine buying it again. It’s not offensive, it’s just not really there. (The Numi bagged pu-erhs have more flavor than this does.) It makes a better cold brew than hot, and it’s hard to imagine that is how a pu-erh should be.
I’m rather gratified that other reviews didn’t find much flavor in this either, so I can’t conclude it’s just me. I want to develop a taste for puerh and I’d be horrified if I was missing the necessary taste buds to do so.
On the upside, it does seem to have made my digestive tract quite happy.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dirt, Leather, Mushrooms, Salt, Tobacco