I’m pretty certain this is the right tea – I received it as one of three free samples from Glen at Crimson Lotus Tea. I am pretty excited about it because Crimson Lotus is one of the “hot” companies around here that I have been wanting to try but couldn’t yet justify an order. Now I’ve got an opportunity to try a couple things and see if I will dip my toes further in.
At random, I selected this sample to try tonight and on first sniff it seems a good choice. One thing I noticed is that I have a bit of fannings/dust but I am thinking that is rough handling by Canada Post as the intact chunks look to be good sized leaf. I’m using the full 7 g sample in my ~120 ml gaiwan with boiling water (minus ~1g that was too small and I worried would escape the gaiwan in a pour). Two quick rinses per the recommendations on CLT’s website, and then a 10 second steep.
The leaves are VERY awake at this point. The beau smells dirt, but dirt after a fresh rain. I get wood, leather, smoke, and other dark and delightful aromas. The liquor isn’t very dark, but it didn’t have the chance to get dark. The flavours are muted compared to the aroma but still full bodied and giving the impression of a thick brew. No off aromas here, and nothing fishy. Just dark and rich and yummy.
Second steep at 15 seconds yields a very dark brew. More what I expected right off the bat. Clearly the leaves weren’t as awake as they seemed. This is fairly brown and opaque. I can barely see the grain of the table through the cup. Aroma has moved over to what I frequently refer to as barn-like. And, as always, that is a positive. Sweet clean hay and something earthy and organic to take it darker and deeper. The flavour is very different than first steep. I get sweetness and almost a bit of astringency with a little bit of a dry mouth. It’s “earthy” and sometimes the beau and I each get a bit of a fruity taste. Maybe like a fruit leather or dried apricots.
Steep 3 at 20 seconds is also quite dark, the sweet aroma is gone and it’s really rocking some smokey aroma right now. The flavour is less earth, more sweet and smoke morphing into each other. It feels like the tea is coming into itself with this steep. I always seem to enjoy the third the best. Is that common?
4 at 25 – less dark in colour but aroma settled in nicely with damp earth and a hint of smoke. Flavour is starting to mellow out. I’m searching a littler more to detect anything new. Sometimes it sips in sweet, sometimes a bit smokey. There is still a bit of a dry mouthfeel and a slight cooling sensation at the back of the throat. I may have abused the tea, or that might be part of it. I’ll never know!
5th at 30 seconds is starting to lose its aroma. Maybe I should have upped the ante a little bit on this steep. The flavour is also a bit lacking. Needed more time! I think I’m going to use the leftover leaves for a western style pot tomorrow morning with my breakfast. I’m getting a lot of tea out of these leaves.
All in all, this was a nice session. I wasn’t particularly wowed – there was no “OOOH, Chocolate!” the way some of my favourite backs can be but it is definitely an easy drinking shou that I could use to teach people what pu-erh can be like. Definite positives, and no negatives, just not the wow factor that gets me to keep buying something. I’m really glad to have been able to try it though, and I look forward to sipping on the other two samples.
I was just reading other reviews and saw someone mentioned fermentation flavour. I wonder if that is what I mean when I am talking about earth/barn. Starting to think so! I like it, just never know how to describe it.
Flavors: Earth, Smoke, Sweet