DUN DUN DUN….
Pu-erh. The dreaded tea with the reputation that would make you want to run for the hills. Fishy tastes and smells. Bird feathers/droppings, nail clippings. Earth and dirt.
Needless to say, I was terrified to try this one. But I mustered up the courage and cut open that packet from GM. Then I hesitantly, very carefully, took a little sniff. You know what? This doesn’t smell bad at all! I thought to myself. It’s very earthy and rich and deep, with an almost bake-y smell. It’s very difficult to describe. The overall smell is similar to a black tea, but it smelled… aged. In a good way. Like an old, leather-bound book. Friendly, almost.
So I began to feel a bit more confident about the cup that awaited me. The leaves don’t do all that much in the pot, and they’re pretty plain looking, but a bit thicker-looking than most blacks (and they are jet black with some brown intertwined). The cup that this steeps up to be is DARK. A deep, deep amber, that you can only see as transparent if you stick it in direct sunlight. Otherwise, it looks like your spoon as disappeared into the black lagoon.
With lots of trepidation, I look the sip, and I was shocked at how inoffensive this was! Then I took another sip, and I thought, mmmmm. Boy is this tea complex. Infinitely smooth, with no astringency, and ridiculously sippable. Now onto the taste, which is so layered, I’m loving it. There’s a taste of earthiness. But we’re talking about more of a savory earthiness, like you’d get from mushrooms. Not dirt outside your house. There’s a level of smokiness. In fact, it’s the smokiness that I thought lapsang souchong was going to taste like. And then, the aftertaste… it’s earthy and deliciously sweet. I mean, as sweet as a green tea tastes on the aftertaste. I was thoroughly shocked at that flavor coming through. It almost has a thick mouthfeel, but is still so smooth and wonderful. I’m still boggled at that sweet component, because it is downright addictive. It’s savory and amazing. Ricky, the resident pu-erh king, really liked this cup as well.
If you’re really afraid of pu-erh, I suggest trying this one. It has its own unique flavor, but really isn’t that frightening. No fish components, and it’s loose, so you don’t have to worry about picking foreign objects out of the cake! Yay! I’m still marveling at the depth of flavors and wonderful savory elements. And that sweetness! MMMMM.
It’s a bit sweeter this time around, with less nuances and complexity. It’s probably the best second steep I’ve had of any tea, ever, but it still pales in comparison to the glorious first time around. I also find myself tiring of a tea and its flavors after one cup. Maybe multiple steeping and I aren’t made to be friends.