This is what I decided on for today after everything happened this morning. I’ve heard really, really good things about this pu’erh, and it’s been long overlooked in my cupboard. I’m using 1 tsp of leaf for this session, which had an initial rinse of 1 minute in water just cooled from boiling.
First steep is for 1 minute in water just cooled from boiling. The rinse liquor was fairly strongly scented and fishy, so I was wary with my first steep. It turns out that I needn’t have been – the flavour here is pretty delicate and the fishiness has gone completely. The best way to describe this would be “earthy cream”. It’s smooth and sweet with an underlying creaminess, but the main flavour is light forest floor/wet leaf, hence “earthy”. There’s a mild camphor-like coolness after successive sips.
Second steep also for one minute, in boiling water. The flavour this time is a little less distinctively earthy, with amped up cream notes and a touch of brown sugar/molasses in the mid-sip. Interestingly, the scent is still very earthy, but it’s not really coming out in the flavour. I’ve no problem with that, though – cream and brown sugar are just fine with me!
Lunch beckons, but I’ll be returning to this one later…
Third Steep for two minutes in boiling water. The liquor is much darker this time – a red-brown rather than an orange-brown. The flavour seems to have developed a little, too, and is now nuttier (I’m thinking walnut or hazelnut), with a caramel note lurking in the background. There’s still a touch of molasses, and the same distinctive creaminess. The earthiness is back very slightly, but is confined mostly to the aftertaste. I’m guessing the longer steep time encouraged this to re-emerge.
Fourth steep also for two minutes in boiling water. The earthiness has disappeared again, but the lightly sweet creaminess remains, with hints of brown sugar. Some of the intensity has worn off that flavour now, so I wouldn’t really call it molasses anymore. Brown sugar for sure, though. One thing I really like about this one is how it seems to get smoother with each successive steep. It was already pretty smooth to start with, but now it’s even more so. Silky, mildly sweet, sugar/cream amazingness.
Fifth steep for 3 minutes in boiling water, and it’s possibly the most amazing yet. It’s really sweet, with a distinctive creaminess and strong brown sugar notes, also a touch of vanilla. There’s no earthiness at all, and it’s the silkiest, smoothest thing that’s passed my lips in a long, long time. I know 3 minutes was recommended for this one, and I can definitely see why. I’m still over-cautious when it comes to pu’erh, though, especially the early steeps, thanks to a couple of fairly dodgy experiences. I’m going to have to think about what to do with my next cup, and whether to start with a longer steep straight off? Maybe it’s time to be brave again.
I had hoped to get six steeps of this one completed – two each at one, two and three minutes. I’m almost out of time unless I take the leaves home with me, though, and in all honesty I’m not going to faff around doing that. I’ve had a good time with this tea today, though – it’s kept me company without the need for milk, and has been utterly delicious all the way through. I’m really glad I picked up a pouch of this one, and only sad I didn’t get around to trying it sooner.