What a treat and privilege to review this Shu Pu’er just released by Verdant Tea.
“I don’t want to mess this up, so what method of brewing should I do?”, I thought. The directions on the Verdant website were easy to adapt to my PIAO glass infuser pot which would allow me to watch the Pu’er brew loosely with a small amount of water. Perfect for the task at hand.
I used Spring water and rinsed the first infusion before steeping. Each steep was 3 minutes long.
Here’s a little tip from Grandma Bonnie: Rinse your hands in some of that tea water. Somehow, get the SMELL of the tea on your hands so that no other scent will cloud your tasting.
1. Watching the Pu’er bark float in the hot water, little particles began to hang in the water like planetary debris. Little by little the color changed to cherrywood and the leaves smelled like furniture lacquer and molasses honey. There was no huge earthy smell, no musty caves of China or dusty boots in either the scent or first taste. This was genteel. Here was a country kitchen with warm, baked bread steaming on the window sill and a crock of mineral water from a mountain stream to wash it down with. Juicy, burnt edges on the crust so faint that you wondered if there were nuts in the bread…but decided that the thought was a phantom. You could smell some wild mint far away…ah now gone. Sweet wheat bread.
2. This was a sweet smelling cup, golden orange-brown like root beer. The wheat bread flavor was almost gone but a tingle of coolness had arrived. I could feel some tannin on my tongue and a woody, amber honey that was very ripe. This steeping was a mystery as if it was in the middle of making up it’s mind on where it was going next. Waiting in the wings, ready to go on stage. I couldn’t wait to see what was next!
3. The leaves were laying on the bottom of the steeping reservoir, giving all they had left…a squeeze of robust color now a lighter deep golden brown.
The flavor was smooth and a bit salty (I liked that). Here was a bigger mineral taste, without any bitterness, right up front. It gathered up juiciness and sprinkled spice in my mouth. I could feel the heat. I pulled back a moment…where were the flavors? A trickster ambushed me on a side street with a cool attitude. Yes, Cool Operator! Mint had arrived. Warmth, Spice, Mint. Are you serious?! I slapped my face and came to my senses. This was so pleasing.
I decided to become a rebel…to become, Grandma Bonnie! (you may want to stop reading here because this is not what tea purists are supposed to do!) I added a little sugar to what was at the end of my cup. And it turned into BREAD PUDDING! I am serious! (I will never get any more sample tea’s from Verdant I just know it!)
This is a Pu’er that is not like the others I’ve had, you know, the deep earthy ones, and light bakery vanilla ones. When have you or I ever had the bread, spice, mineral and mint (mint?!) in one Puer?! It is very different and worth tasting!
Thank you to the special people who seek out the best tea from small farms for us to enjoy!
http://youtu.be/sOI8ae3Lub8 (Smooth Operator, Sade)