I have made time for some new teas, and this was amongst them. I drank it a few times throughout the year, though I took sparing and woefully incomplete notes. Still, I can at least say the following:
—> It did have quite noticeable fermentation odour, on opening. I know that, like stinky cheese or similar such things, you can’t really avoid it in classically made shu puerh, but I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t find it slightly off-putting :p
—> I did a quick rinse at around 90C, but it did smell quite lovely. Sweet and caramelly, with a nice earthy background.
—> I then did several short steeps (5-10s) at near-boiling. Each infusion was lovely and tasted just as it smelled; rich notes of caramel or chocolate, with a lovely and balanced earthy background. It was a beautifully smooth drink, with a gentle lightness about it, particularly in the aftertaste.
—> I then carried on with a group of longer steeps (I think the final one was around 30 seconds, and it was probably steep 9 or 10); the tea was still going strong, though it was obviously a little lighter in essence by the end.
I did all of the brewing in a porcelain Verdant Gaiwan (v. thin walled and lustrous); aesthetically, I doubt I’ll ever find a teaware set-up I prefer, but I do appreciate it’s probably not the best for such a classical shu puerh that ought to have a more tightly controlled high-temperature. I’m still on the look-out for a nice, small yixing pot that I can use for shu puerh (as the two I own currently are seasoned for other teas and, for my liking, are a little too large for shu puerh).
Flavors: Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Earth