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.
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 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 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 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 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!