I woke up to something terrible, my phone has decided to go missing!! I left it on my desk when I took a sleep and now it is gone, which really puts a dent into my usual morning ritual, sigh. I hope Ben took it with him to work since his stopped functioning, because if not I have no idea where it could have gone. Wherever it has gone I hope it is having fun.
Today I am taking a look at Green Tea Guru’s 2010 Hai Lang Hao ‘As You Like’ Ripe Puerh Cake, a cake which was pressed in 2010 but is a combination of 2003, 2008, and 2009 Menghai leaves with a low to medium fermentation. The sample I received had some excellent sized chunks, letting me see that the cake is really densely compressed, not an iron brick where you need a hammer and chisel to break it up, but not falling apart at the sight of a puerh knife either! The aroma of the chunks o’ tea err more on the side of brisk and robust than rich and sweet, with notes of leather, wet leaves, a bit of earthy soil and mushrooms with a slight gamy animal quality that vaguely reminds me of moose. It is not at all unpleasant, unless you don’t like rambling around an alpine forest during the spring thaw, but I do so I am in a happy sniffing place.
After a rinse and first short steep in my clay pot, the aroma of the still pretty compressed leaves is sweet! Notes of molasses, wet leather, cocoa, yeasty dark bread, and wet pine wood mingle together. The liquid combines notes of wet peat, wet wood, and minerals together, not very sweet but pleasantly earthy.
I knew from the first sip that this tea was love, and considering it took a while to wake up. It starts with a thick texture and sweet molasses almost creamy taste, but what really got my attention was the wonderful rain drenching stone and earth, what fancy people call petrichor. I love the way the air smells after a rain, but more importantly I love the way the air tastes, so a tea that evokes that makes me happy. Later steeps retain this wonderful petrichor quality but ramp up the molasses sweetness.
Around the middle steeps (steep three to be exact) the tea has awoken from its compressed slumber and is showing its inky beauty. It still has the wonderful petrichor and molasses but also brings along wet mushroom rich wood and wet leather with a raisin sweetness. What really makes the middle steeps noticeable other than an increase in intensity is a building internal fire. I chose to drink this on a cool (for summer in the Midwest) night, and boy am I glad I did because wow, I think I could be a Firebender with this heat!
By the end steeps I am drinking a literal sauna, or at least the rich, thick, wet, heat from one. It has the same sweetness and petrichor, but also brings in a wet wood quality that lasts well after the other flavors start to fade away. One thing that never seemed to fade was the intense heat from this shou, it was unreal! Talk about turning a cool night into a sweaty mess, I ended up having to pile my icepack on myself to cool down! I am tempted to get a cake for medicinal reasons, if it has this affect in the winter I won’t need my customary heating pads to keep myself from being achy. Plus, and the most important part of any tea purchase I make, it tastes really good!