Tea #3 from the (Mostly) Unflavored TTB
(Note: This is a long review since this is the first puerh I’ve really honestly tried, so I’m rambling quite a bit while I figure it all out. Apologies beforehand.)
So let me start out by saying that I know nothing about puerh (despite reading most everything here on the discussions) other than it’s something that I want to try some day because nearly everyone seems so into it. I’ve had an awful experience with a Chocolate Orange Puerh (DavidsTea I think) and an nearly equally bad experience with a sheng puerh (also DavidsTea come to think about it), but I chalked it up to (then at least) knowing even less than nothing about puerh. Lol! But the experiences have definitely made me rather gun shy about delving into it again.
Months later I’m starting to consider dabbling in it once more (I just got Mandala’s Ripe sampler), because come on, it’s just tea, stop being a coward. And since this box came with a handful of puerh samples, I set them aside for dubious (and slightly almost distrustful if I’m being honest) consideration. Closed my eyes and grabbed one as my next tea and this one came up. Probly not exactly the smartest choice since I couldn’t find anything on how to brew this aside from KiwiDelight’s gaiwan gongfu session. And since I’m being a coward about using the (/hides/) 4 assorted gaiwans I now own (don’t judge. They have the benefit of being pretty. >>;), I just ended up using my brew basket.
So I faked it and kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t send me flailing away from ever wanting to try puerh again.
1st steeping – 6g/8oz/30s – (measured on my scale but which was about 3 small-ish chunks) dropped in the basket. I can’t resist saying that the pieces kinda looked kinda like the clods of dried grass I’d pry off my shoes after cutting the grass the day before, back in my younger days when I still had to cut the grass. XD;
Nearly every brewing session/review I’ve read rinses first, so I brought the water to a boil(ish), poured while counting to 5, pulled the basket and eyed the liquid. I didn’t drink it (though I’ve read people doing that just to see), I probably should have just because why not, but I didn’t. Just sniffed it before dumping it out. It smelled earthy and slightly mushroomy and kinda spicy almost. Not at all the fishy smell I was fearing.
So I did a 30s brew on this, pulled the basket and wasn’t too surprised to see that, while there were loose leaves, there was still bigger chunks stuck together. The brew is surprisingly dark (dark clearish amber) and the smell is mushrooms and earth (and if I’m being honest very slightly fishy, but clean and not sour, turn-your-stomach rotten sort of fishy). I have to say that I hesitated big before taking a sip. What if it tasted fishy or rotten or any of the other ‘ugh’ stories about puerh I’ve heard? But I told myself to get it over with coward, and took a sip.
Wow. Earthy and mushroom-y (which is super odd, but at least I like mushrooms, though possibly not as tea) and, after a moment and a second sip, holy cats, chocolate. Dark, kinda bittersweet chocolate. But there none-the-less. Which, despite drinking teas with apparently chocolate notes, I’ve never really been able to figure it out. This note is fleeting and doesn’t really linger, but it’s there for me. It is a bit astringent the longer I sit and sip at it. And my tongue is kinda tingly too. (is that normal or did I find another weird quirk for me?)
2nd steeping – 45s – Wow. I thought the first brew was dark, this one is even darker. Reddish brown instead of amber brown. Same sort of mushroom-y smell. Same sort of taste as the first brew though I’m not really finding that chocolate note in there this time. Just the mushroom and a bit of earth.
3rd steeping – 1min – I think I should’ve tried this first this morning since it just keeps going and I’m getting the urge to want to try something else. But I’ll stick it out. Same smell on this one but taste wise it had an unpleasant metallic tone to it. I actually ended up pouring this one out after a few game sips because I couldn’t get past that taste. Ugh.
4th steeping – 1min 15sec – Last one because I’m pretty tired of drinking this already. Lol! I’m pretty sure it could go for another few rounds still since when I poured the water in, it turned dark almost immediately. Brew has gained a sort of roasted mushroom smell now along with the earth. Metallic taste is gone (or almost, I can kinda taste it lurking in the back) and this is drinkable once more. Huh.
So an interesting experience for this. Good, but interesting. Lol! Definitely a type of tea to start first thing and expect to drink all day, or else set aside for the next day/later. I’m wondering if this tea might be better with multiple short steeps instead of adding time each steeping. I snuck a taste on the 4th steeping at the 30sec mark and it was pretty tasty. Better than I think the end 1min 15sec steeping turned out. Honestly the very first steeping has to be my favorite out of all of these. If I were so inclined, I might try this one again with just straight 30sec steepings the whole way, but I’m not so inclined since this has to go back into the box so the next person to try. Lol! I might (one day) just buy this from puerhshop myself since I guess I can always store it away if I get tired of it, right? Probably the bottom cabinet of my curio cabinet would be best, though I have no idea if that’d be a good place for it honestly.