From the EU TTB

It’s not often that I really crave shu, but it’s happening more now that the weather is getting colder. I’m probably also starting to understand it a little better than I did previously – I’m more familiar with how to prepare it to suit my tastes, and with the kind of flavours I’m likely to be confronted with. This Pu-erh is in the form of a tuocha, and comes wrapped in the most adorable pink and white paper, decorated with a tiny picture of a rose. There’s an actual dried rose bud pressed into the top of the actual tuocha, which is a nice touch. I rinsed it for 30 seconds in boiling water prior to the first infusion.

First Steep
My first steep was for 1.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium red brown, the scent earthy with mild manure-ish notes. The tuocha itself has just about held together. I was expecting a reasonably pungent flavour, but it’s actually fairly gentle. There’s an immediate earthiness, like soil or compost, which is one of the things I’m coming to love most about shu pu-erh. Underneath that is a delicate sweetness, almost floral and very slightly reminiscent of sugared rose water. Intriguing!

Second Steep
Second steep for 1 minute in boiling water. The liquor is much darker this time, a deep red-brown verging on black. The scent is much earthier, with strong earthy notes reminiscent of compost and leaf mulch. Thankfully, the manure has all but disappeared from this steep! The tuocha has disintegrated pretty much completely this time. The flavour is still gentle and mellow – a distinctive earthiness, very reminiscent of freshly turned compost this time – but not too pungent. I’m not getting as much floral sweetness this time, possibly because the earthiness is now a little more prominent. I’m starting to wonder about the goji berry, though. Am I supposed to be able to taste it?

Third Steep
Third steep for 40 seconds in boiling water. The liquor is, again, fairly dark – a deep red brown. The scent is strongly earthy, and these notes translate into the flavour. It’s still a very smooth, mellow cup. The main flavour here is compost, with perhaps a hint of “damp” edging in. I’m thinking forest floor after a heavy rain shower! Still no goji berry.

Fourth Steep
Fourth steep also for 40 seconds in boiling water. The liquor is starting to become lighter again, still a red brown but closer to mahogany than flat black. The scent is still earthy, although less strongly now. It wasn’t particularly strong to begin with, so there’s a marked deterioration here. To taste, I think I’m finally beginning to get the goji berry! The earthiness is no longer the dominant flavour – instead it’s a mildly spicy, almost peppery flavour with just a touch of sweetness. I find goji berry hard to describe, but if you’ve eaten one before you’ll know what I mean. There is still some earthiness, but it’s far less pronounced. It’s not really compost anymore – just leaf mulch and a touch of “damp”. It’s still a smooth, mellow cup.

Fifth Steep
Fifth steep also for 40 seconds in boiling water. The liquor is lighter again this time- a red-orange now. The scent is still earthy, although noticeably milder. There is noticeably less flavour this time around, although it’s still pleasantly earthy. The goji berry has disappeared again, but I’m a fan of compost-y shu so I don’t mind all that much. I’m probably going to stop here simply because I’m running out of time, and because the majority of flavour is all but gone anyway.

I enjoyed my day with this one, particularly the third and fourth steeps. This is an easy pu-erh to drink – not too pungent in terms of both scent and flavour, and very smooth and mellow. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try this one!

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Hi :) I’m Sarah, and I live in Norfolk in the UK. My tea obsession began when a friend introduced me to Teapigs a good few years ago now. Since then, I’ve been insatiable. Steepster introduced me to a world of tea I never knew existed, and my goal is now to TRY ALL THE TEAS. Or most of them, anyway.

I still have a deep rooted (and probably life-long) preference for black tea. My all-time favourite is Assam, but Ceylon and Darjeeling also occupy a place in my heart. Flavoured black tea can be a beautiful thing, and I like a good chai latte in the winter.

I also drink a lot of rooibos/honeybush tea, particularly on an evening. Sometimes they’re the best dessert replacements, too. White teas are a staple in summer — their lightness and delicate nature is something I can always appreciate on a hot day.

I’m still warming up to green teas and oolongs. I don’t think they’ll ever be my favourites, with a few rare exceptions, but I don’t hate them anymore. My experience of these teas is still very much a work-in-progress. I’m also beginning to explore pu’erh, both ripened and raw. That’s my latest challenge!

I’m still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.

You’ve probably had enough of me now, so I’m going to shut up. Needless to say, though, I really love tea. Long may the journey continue!

My rating system:

91-100: The Holy Grail. Flawless teas I will never forget.

81-90: Outstanding. Pretty much perfection, and happiness in a cup.

71-80: Amazing. A tea to savour, and one I’ll keep coming back to.

61-70: Very good. The majority of things are as they should be. A pleasing cup.

51-60: Good. Not outstanding, but has merit.

41-50: Average. It’s not horrible, but I’ve definitely had better. There’s probably still something about it I’m not keen on.

31-40: Almost enjoyable, but something about it is not for me.

11-30: Pretty bad. It probably makes me screw my face up when I take a sip, but it’s not completely undrinkable.

0-10: Ugh. No. Never again. To me, undrinkable.


Norfolk, UK

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