I’m currently bowl steeping this, but I had the pleasure of a gongfu session with this tea on Lunar New Year a couple nights ago with some friends. I will do my best to sum up my thoughts on how it tastes both styles.
Really the biggest difference is that the continuous steep brings out a much stronger flavor. The taste of the gongfu infusions was not remarkably different from one to the next. Also, the tangerine taste comes through much more strongly with the long infusion than with the gongfu infusions, which may be a consideration for how you wish to brew it. I am brewing this with pieces of the tangerine rind in it as well, and I recommend you do it this way to get the full effect of this tea’s character.
Really the tangerine comes through strongest in the aroma, where it really smells like a fresh tangerine peel, despite being aged and oxidized until it’s entirely dark brown. In the flavor it comes through mildly and a bit tart with the gongfu infusions, more as a backdrop to the very forward flavor of the shou, which predominantly tastes like cedar and earth. When bowl steeping this, the tangerine flavor is much more tart and involved, and the first few sips of this tea had an almost meaty flavor that reminded me of smoked salmon with a squeeze of lemon. This Puer lacks sweetness, though I don’t find that it suffers from this. I think this could be good with sugar in it for people who like sweet tea. I tend to just drink things straight these days.
This is not a tea I will likely buy again, as I find it lacks the complexity and nuance of unflavored higher quality shou Puer, but this was a curio and a fun experiment to try for the first time, and I thought it fitting to serve to some friends as a part of a tea spread for Lunar New Year, since small citruses are a very common symbol of the holiday.
Flavors: Cedar, Citrus, Earth, Meat, Smoke, Tart