It´s been an exciting tea discovery last week… this is the second tea to be found in my ChaTale tea box and a first for me, as I had never taken a dark tea or pu erh before. I started looking for information about the product and the way to prepare it (should I loosen the mini cake first or just pour boiling water on it? do I need to rinse it? can I reuse the leaves and if so, how to adapt the steeping time? …), and discovered some interesting youtube videos : http://www.charteas.com/Buy%20Puerh%20Toucha%20tea%20online%20at%20Charteas
Pu erh is a type of tea which has undergone fermentation, and this “detail” makes that pu erh actually can age well. I don´t have information about the age of these mini cakes, but I do know this was a unique tea experience and I really liked it. Maybe the only thing I didn´t like that much was the bloating effect this tea had on me twice during the course of using a single mini cake (and I reused the leaves four times in all).
So, finally, my pu erh experience was as follows : I heated water to 100ºC, used the freshly boiled water to give the mini cake a quick rinse (10s max.), and inmediately poured new boiling water on the mini cake which I then steeping for 2 minutes. I used a ceramic mug with a (ceramic) tea filter which can easily be taken out, so I just withdrew the filter and the loosened cake in the filter was inmediately ready for a second brew. The first brew was very dark, the aroma´s of the tea were quite strong and reminded me of wild mushrooms (I adore wild mushrooms, so this was definitely a positive thing). The taste was quite strong as well, with a very present smell and taste of something having undergone a fermentation. Logical of course, but I was impressed : the tea tastes completely different from anything I´ve tried before! About half an hour later I steeped the pu erh a second time, by pouring freshly boiled water over the tea filter in the mug. I had it steep 30s longer (so, 2.5 minutes in total) and the colour of the tea was similar to the first brew. Not a lot of change in taste and smell either. The 3rd-5th brew I made the day afterwards. I guess the tea might have lost a bit of its qualities, but I must say that the 3rd and 4th brews were still very nice (steeping for 3 or 3.5 minutes by then). The 5th time (steeping time of 4 minutes) the result was clearly inferior, and almost no colour developed.
As it was my first time drinking pu erh, I didn´t have a reference, but I liked the experience and look forward to trying other pu erh teas. I might buy a larger cake, but I need then to get some more material (tea needle, tea knife) to loosen the tea leaves. http://www.teavivre.com/info/pry-pu-erh-tea/ tells you a lot about this process.
Flavors: Mushrooms, Peat