These cute but eminently stinky Tuo Cha from Upton Tea Imports were my very first purchase ever of this type of tea. That was more than a decade ago. Seriously. They sat in a drawer alone, neglected and scorned for all this time, never to be infused until today. They aren’t nearly as stinky as I recall, but I figured, how can pu-ehr go bad, really? Perhaps they have improved with age!
The strong scent of the initial sample (which contained 6 tuo cha, now 5) left such a lasting impression on me that I completely avoided this entire category of tea. Why would I want to drink such a thing? I asked myself most logically.
After seeing the throngs of pu-erh devotees out there in the world wide web, some of whom spend time here at Steepster, I realized, at last, that first impressions might deceive. Perhaps it’s really true:
Don’t judge a book by its cover or a tuo cha by its stench!
I tossed the first short infusion and proceeded to brew this tea using near-boiling water, which swiftly produced a dark brownish amber liquor with not a trace of its former stinkiness lingering in the air. To be honest, and a bit surprisingly (or not!) the flavor strikes me as a cross between a Yunnan black and a Lapsang Souchong tea. Does anyone else find similarities between pu-erh and Lapsang? Or is it just this particular batch?
Anyway, it’s good, and now I’m off to the races for many new adventures in the vast land of pu-erh! I needed to clear this hurdle before I could try any other pure pu-erhs. Mission accomplished, and happily, too!