Finishing up this sample from when I originally purchased it about a year ago. It’s been opened in the bag for about the same amount of time so maybe this has affected the tea.
During the first brew I opened the lid to see how the chunk was loosening up and I was met with a very strong fishy odor! I was surprised because I would expect that a cake from 2008 would have had time to let the wodui smell dissipate, and I don’t remember noticing it the first time I drank it.
Interestingly enough the fishy smell goes away when I dump the water out and the leaves smell more earthy and like what I taste in the first infusion. I add water and the fishy smell returns. Water comes out and the leaves smell sweet and earthy! How unexpected. This would explain why I didn’t notice it the first time – the fish smell is only powerful enough to smell when there is water in the gaiwan and does not get translated into the flavor of the brew. I may have to start sniffing mid brew to see if any other teas have surprising odors that only appear in the presence of water.
Speaking of water.. I’m using slightly different water for this sample. After reading MarshalN’s posts on the effects of water on tea I’ve decided to try using water with a higher mineral content for puer brewing. The water where I live is particularly low in minerals so I have been employing a device that “alkalizes” water, which is a fancy way of saying it adds calcium, magnesium and “other beneficial minerals” to the water. The marketing on the device is kind of BS but it serves my purposes just fine. Of course this is some very informal testing as I have no way of knowing how much the concentration of minerals is raised when using the device or how much the differences I notice are due to placebo. It seems that at the very least the new water doesn’t harm the tea, and may improve it.
That last bit is a little irrelevant considering I wasn’t even living in the same area when I first tried the sample. I’m not really comparing anything to anything as I don’t know what the tea would taste like with the local water.
Now..the actual tea. It’s pleasant enough so far. The brew is very clean with no dust settling at the bottom of my cup which is nice. I’m not sure how much of that is due to the tea itself (age/leaf quality) or if it has more to do with how the cake is broken. It’s relatively sweet with strength in the aftertaste.
I’ll have to write more when I return to the session later – at this rate I’ll be late for work