First Tasting…from a sample I received with my last Verdant order. (Prior to my full cake purchase arriving.)
I didn’t realize at first that the sample I received with my order was the same as the 07 cake I later purchased. The label was marked 06 instead of 07.
I thought I had received one of those extra’s that are never going up on the Verdant site, or a future tea that might be released in a few weeks. You never know with tea, things are always changing.
Tasting at H.L.
So I took my little sample to Happy Lucky’s to taste with my tea friends, Sam and Joe, and my granddaughter Schey.
Joe set up a little Gaiwan and 4 cups, then rotated through 7 short steepings.
From the beginning I didn’t think he used enough leaf and the steep time was instant, but he thought otherwise.
The first steeping was tongue numbing, and tasted ashy. The smell was sweet tobacco. The Pu’er was never bitter or harsh, just ashy tasting and vegital.
That didn’t concern me, I knew how a first steeping was so often unreliable in judging what future steepings would taste like.
It took 3 additional steepings for the ash and tobacco taste to subside, finally allowing a lighter, green tea flavor to emerge with a slight astringency.
I determined then to spend time at home brewing this Pu’er ‘MY WAY’. Something wasn’t right.
Curious about my sample, I sent David Duckler an e-mail. He said the handwritten sample said ’06 but was really the 2007 Fuhai Sheng. Aha!
Now I knew how to brew!
I decided to do a Western Style brewing to get a larger amount of tea all at once to envelop myself in the aroma and flavor. I also wanted to use lots of leaf.
I used SPRING WATER!!! (I do believe this made a big difference)
Steep time….1 minute! 8 oz water 5 grams or so leaf
The aroma of the leaves was lightly vegital with a background scent of Grammer School paste.
The color remained pale yellow.
The scent of the tea changed in such a peculiar way. I smelled sweet tobacco in the beginning then sweet spiced pickle, cinnamon, savory and sweet green tea.
Second Tasting Western Style
With the very first sip I was stunned at how instantly the tea numbed my tongue. Not just the tip but under the tongue.
The flavor was an ash-vegital taste that wasn’t too salty. The Pu’er was never bitter or harsh and had a natural sweetness.
I had the sensation of cream without a thick mouth-feel.
As the tea cooled just slightly there was a growing presence of cinnamon.
I was pleased that my choice to brew Western Style using more leaf and longer steep time had worked out so well!
The second steep was like the first and the third was less ashy, dryer and a weaker cup.
I needed to make an adjustment!
At Stepping #4, I changed the time to 1 minute 45 seconds. Perfect!
Always the experimenter, and following a hunch…I took a small break, took a bite of chicken and came back to my tea (just seconds away to keep the tea hot).
By taking that break, I discovered the Pu’er’s Savory personality! Sipping the Pu’er was really good with my light chicken dish in a way that an excellent light savory broth would be.
I could still feel a bit of tingle, that numbing feeling in my mouth that was kind of cool and a green plantain starchy flavor that is a little sweet as it begins to ripen with a hint of cinnamon (super light). (The cinnamon was sometimes only on the nose)
For my first encounters with this Pu’er, I didn’t taste apricot or nut.
The environment often changes what you taste from one day to another too. This is why I seldom eat before tasting tea.
Perhaps in the future my experience will deepen and I will taste many things as the Pu’er itself changes.
My recommendation is to use the best water, don’t skimp on leaf and steep long enough to get good flavor. If at first you don’t succeed try again. I bought a cake and a sample size to play with. Sheng is not like Shu Puerh. This is not earthy, fishy or mushroom tasting.
Sheng are a whole different adventure in the world of Pu’er and I for one have a lot to learn.