I’ll admit it: I’m afraid of pu-erh tea. Even tasting notes by people who like them don’t sound good to me. Dirt, fish, horse farms? No thanks (and I grew up on a horse farm so that last one sounds really unappetizing). But when QuiltGuppy offered to send me a sample of this one, which she enjoyed and did sound good from her tasting note, I decided to take her up on it and give it a try. Thanks QuiltGuppy, for giving me my first pu-erh!
The aroma of the dry leaf surprised me on this one. I feel like I can sometimes pick out the coconut, and the fig, and the fennel individually, but when I stick my nose in the pouch they combine and I get overwhelmed by one scent: fine bourbon. Perhaps with a hint of bourbon balls (bourbon cream candy with pecans covered in chocolate) but wow if it doesn’t smell like the inside of the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival I go to every year (note: I’m a Kentucky girl, and I love bourbon). I could smell the dry leaves all day! Sweet, a bit molasses-y, oak barrel aged, a hint of rye, a bit of fruit, herbs… it’s like describing a bourbon tasting note.
Anyway! Onto the actual brewed stuff. THIS smells like the inside of an oak barrel previously used to age bourbon: much much woodier, a touch resiny, with a tantalyzing hint of the bourbon notes in the dry tea. I feel like this aroma carries over into the dry tea well, with a hint of added smokiness. It’s almost like the (brewed) tea was aged in a bourbon barrel, like some bourbon barrel ales I’ve had. It’s sweeter than I expected, smooth and full-bodied. As it cools it gets a touch less woody (though still present), and there’s a spiciness at the end of the sip. Still very bourbony, but without the alcohol hit. Wow, I really like this one! Thanks so much for sharing it with me, QG, because I probably would have never ventured there on my own. Between this one and the Milk Oolong, I sense an order to ATR in my future when my samples run out!
ETA: Second steep, 5 minutes (the time recommended on ATR’s site). Wow, this tea is really dark. I looks a bit like a black cup of coffee. It’s less sweet this time, but a hint of sweetness is still there. Not as fruity from the fig or creamy from the coconut, but more charred oak barrel (but in a tasty way!).
Fun facts: dandelion root (an ingredient in this tea) is rich in vitamins and minerals, and is apparently a herbal medicine, which has been used to treat just about everything but specifically things to do with the gut, liver, and kidney. It contains inulin, which might be contributing to the sweetness here. It’s sometimes described as being somewhat bitter, which I’m glad doesn’t come through in this tea. It’s also a mild diuretic and digestive aid. (I got my info from the University of Maryland Medical Center website: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/dandelion-000236.htm)