My first puer! Or possibly my second – I feel like I may have tried one at Samovar a long time ago, but if I did I can’t remember anything much about it. Also the first tea I’m trying from my swap with Rie!
So, this tea – the dry leaf smells mostly like strawberry candy (a bit artificial, but not in a bad way) and also a bit chocolate-y and earthy. Rie suggested doing a brief rinse, but in my excitement to taste this I completely forgot about it. So no rinse for me.
For the first steep, I (accidentally – the more I get into different kinds of higher-end teas, the more I realize I am terrible at brewing properly) used less-than-boiling water and steeped for about (yep, my attention to detail could use some improvement!) 45 seconds. Flavor-wise, the first steep is mildly – and very pleasantly – earthy. There’s no fishy smell or taste whatsoever, thankfully. I’m not quite getting the forest floor/horse barn kinds of notes I often see mentioned with puers either, but I’d say this one leans (very slightly) in that sort of direction. There’s also a hint of chocolate; fortunately, it’s quite natural-tasting and blends well with the base. A lot of chocolate teas veer too close in flavor to the abomination that is chocolate soda for my liking, and I’m pleased to report that this one does not. This chocolate flavoring is nicely subtle. I’m not really getting any strawberry notes, although the brewed tea does smell rather like strawberry syrup or pie. I see a lot of mentions of strong strawberry flavor in other reviews, so it could be that my less-than-stellar brewing technique is at fault; in addition to what I’ve already mentioned, I suspect I may have ever-so-slightly underleafed. But strawberry or no, the first steep’s very enjoyable. There’s a bit of sweetness and also a bit of astringency, but the latter is no bad thing in my opinion.
Now for the second steep (1:30) – this is not dissimilar to Steep 1, although the earthy notes from the puer are a bit more prominent. The third steep (2:00) I messed up by using too much water. It tastes weak and weirdly sweet. It’s drinkable but not great. I attribute this entirely to user error. Fourth steep (2:30) is a similar deal – I think I killed the leaves with the excess water in the third steep. Oh well; I have enough left in my sample for one more brewing session and I’ll endeavor to be more attentive when I use it.
Thanks very much to Rie for sending this sample! This is probably going on my list for my next Lupicia order, and it’s definitely made me want to delve deeper into the world of puer.