Inside my last Verdant order, I received this pre-release Pu’er. That’s all that was on the packet. I shot an e-mail off to David Duckler asking “How do I brew this Sheng Pu’er?”
The answer came:
Gaiwan for 4-6oz water and 1tsp leaf
1 second rinse
3 second steep
add 1 second for each additional steep
I could do that. (Gulp)
This is a dark brown compact bark with a bit of sheen.
The color of the liquor remained light golden honey except for the first steeping which was yellow.
The wet leaves are the longest, beautiful olive brown leaves I’ve seen… some almost 5 inches long. Their scent began as ocean seaweed and progressed to salty raisin tobacco then a meaty light tobacco. Smoky at all stages.
I was going to begin talking about each steeping 1,2,3 and tell what I tasted. I was having difficulty.
“There shouldn’t be any problem reviewing this tea”, I told myself.
I walked over to the couch, put my feet up and reclined…waiting.
I waited for some time…and trying to be still…waited some more.
I sat thinking about Pu-er’s in general. Why are so many people fearful about them. Yes, it’s true there’s a bit of preparation with Pu-er and you can think too hard about it so that the pleasure’s gone and it becomes a chore. “Do I rinse it?” “How long do I steep this thing?”
“What is Shu, Sheng, raw and cooked, sounds like a menu item?” “What am I supposed to be tasting? Dirt, apples, mushrooms,or honey?” “What makes it awesome or gross in the first place?” I’ve been asked these questions.
No wonder so many people just throw in the towel (or toucha)!
Maybe I was thinking too hard about this particular Pu-er myself.
Pu-er shouldn’t be that difficult it should be pleasurable.
I went back to the kitchen counter more relaxed, took a deep breath and poured boiling water to wash the Pu-er for 1 second, steeped it 3 seconds and poured some to drink.
It smelled smoky and tasted like light corn and moist sweet rice at the front and finish. This was a tea full of juice and body. The flavor was smooth for a young tea. (This wasn’t an earthy flavor so for those who like green tea or white tea this would appeal most to you. Smooth and light.)
When I poured again…this lightly smoke scented tea produced prickly nettles on my tongue tip for a few seconds. Then, the tea became smooth with a more mature mouthfeel than young tea would normally possess. That fact sets this tea apart as a stunner. It doesn’t have the roughness and harsh feel of a young tea. There was a faint gyokuro taste, a richer cup than the first steep.
On the finish the tea began to nag me with a taste memory of something I used to grill but I couldn’t remember what it was.
I began to obsess…standing in my kitchen and looking through my spice cabinet for clues. “I know this flavor…I have it somewhere in my kitchen and it goes with plank grilling salmon,” I said.
I have a container filled with flavored salts (hickory, expresso, ginger, applewood, lavendar, balsamac, hawaiian, and so on)…and I looked through the bin until I found one of them that said Alderwood Salt. I took a tiny taste. Ah! That was the one I was looking for.
I tasted ALDER in this tea. Alder is a sweet wood…close to corn and sticky rice in scent.
I found the sweet wood flavor in the tea delicate, sweet and mild.
There was again some hint of corn on the finish lingering.
I knew there was more for the tea to say. I had a little sample and discovered that I am limited with one or two tastings. This is a Pu’er that is like a good book. I would have to take time and read it over many steepings and many encounters to begin to know what it has to say.
I had relaxed enough to really enjoy this Pu-er, the flavor had became unrestrained and full of life. I am always learning from tea about that need to be present with it.
There are so many different kinds of Pu-er, light and dark ones, earthy and mild. A little rinse and off you go. They are fun to try and share with friends. Good for the body (and you know the rest)…good for the soul. Nothing really to be fearful of trying because as with any tea, they are all different and you will find ones that you love.
This tea will age well. It is already mature beyond it’s years. A young Pu-er with a bright future. Fresh and flirty. A Pu-er inviting me to take my time and not rush the relationship. Light and delicious now, but just wait….