I haven’t seen very many Yiwu ripe pu’ers on the market and this is the first one I’ve tried. I used 12.3g in my 160ml Jianshui clay teapot, so roughly half my sample. Although this is a brick, the compression seems very light and I was able to break larger chunks into smaller ones without having to used hardly any force at all. I rinsed the leaves for under ten seconds and let the leaves soak up the moisture for five minutes before I began brewing. I did a total of eight steeps, the timing for these being 12s, 12s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 50s, 90s and 3 min. For drinking the tea, I used both a regular glazed teacup as well as a Jianshui clay teacup dedicated to shu pu’er.
The first infusion brewed a dark red. The liquor was surprisingly clear especially for such a young tea. The tea was syrupy, slick, clean and slightly sweet. The strength was good. The next steep brewed a pure black. Possibly the darkest color I’ve seen, if you can compare black with another black. The mouthfeel was velvety and there was a mild pleasant bitterness to the tea. I’m not really sure if there was quite a coffee taste to this steep as is often the case with shu pu’ers at this stage.
Steep three produced a super clean, beautiful liquor. The mouthfeel was astonishing. It felt like the tea was massaging your tongue. Just phenomenal. The tea left an active sensation in your mouth even after you swallowed. There was even less bitterness now. I don’t really know how to describe the taste. It leaned more towards darker notes, but I’m not sure if calling it coffee or roasted is quite correct.
Steep four was somewhat weaker than the prior infusions, which was a sign for me that I could push this tea even harder for the following steeps. The taste was also less complex, but very sweet. Quite impressively the tea still brewed a perfect black in the fifth steep. The tea was now stronger and less sweet. The taste was mainly woody. At this point I could start to feel the tea in my body, especially around my chest and abdomen.
Infusion number six continued to brew totally black. Contrary to the color, the tea had become very fresh with a clear taste of mint. The soup was ultra clean and both cooling and warming in the mouth at the same time. The taste was also accompanied by a REALLY nice and pleasant qi. This steeping was definitely one of the standouts. Steep seven is finally where the tea only brewed a very dark red as opposed to a total black. In contrast to the color, the flavor had dropped much more significantly and was merely that of some basic sweetness. Steep eight also continued to have plenty of color and the strength was now better as well, but the flavors simply weren’t there. The tea was simple and nice and you could probably have continued with these extended sweet steeps for a while, but I deemed the session to be done.
I feel I’ve described this tea with much fewer words than I usually do. This can either be a good sign or a bad sign. In this case it’s a good sign. This tea was exceptional. I don’t know if it’s my favorite or second favorite shu pu’er up to this point, but I can say that the base material is definitely my favorite and it has been expertly processed. This tea performed much like I’d demand from a high-end raw pu’er, while offering the flavor experience of a shu pu’er. Since the tea has been more lightly fermented and the leaves aren’t totally black, I’d expect it to develop and become even better over the years, although it’s perfectly drinkable now and I didn’t detect any off-flavors.
I would very much like to buy more of this tea. The two inhibitors are however the fact that it comes in a 1kg brick and consequently the high price that results from that. This tea is however most definitely worth the price. Assuming it doesn’t sell out in the very near future, I’d love to grab a brick of this once I’m able. While this is an accessible tea, I would say that its true strengths might be lost on someone still very new to pu’er. Just the way it flows out of the cha hai as I pour tells me how high-quality it is. Despite the dark color, the tea didn’t brew particularly strong, so I wouldn’t go much lighter on the leaf than I did and you could probably easily go heavier. The only real downside was the longevity, but hopefully more flavors will develop there as the tea ages.
Flavors: Bitter, Mint, Sweet, Wood