Sunday Tea and Books time!
Many thanks to Angel of Teavivre for sending me a sample of this. I haven’t tried many pu’erhs, so it’s lovely to get some more exposure to them.
Upon opening the packet, the leaf smelled of tobacco, leather, cedar wood, raisins, and earth. There were some broken up leaves in the packet, but instead I took a large unbroken chunk that was probably about 1/2 the packet’s worth and put that in a 100mL gaiwan. I did a rinse for 15-20 seconds, then let it rest for about 2 minutes in the hot gaiwan before steeping.
I brewed up a big pot of hot water – about 1.25 L – and put a tea cozy on it to stay warm. Over the next 1.5 hours, I steeped the leaf a whopping 13 times to see how far it would go.
The first 3 or 4 steeps were all a dark amber colour, and tasted smoky and bitter. Not the bitterness of beer, but a bit thinner and sharper, like it was coating my tongue. The tobacco impression lingered all throughout. I also got hints of cedar wood and birch bark. However, as the steeps progressed, the tea became more fruity. These steeps ranged from 10-20 seconds.
After the first few steeps, my mouth felt coated, but it wasn’t tongue-curling astringency so much as a fuzzy feeling all throughout.
I have to say that I think steeps 5-8 were the best, as the smokiness remained but the bitterness faded away. Instead, that stonefruit note came increasingly to the fore. These steeps ranged from 20-25 seconds.
However, steeps 9 and onwards were quite weak, with a significant drop-off in flavour from 11-13. At this stage, I had progressed from 30 second steeps to 3 minute steeps, without much appreciable increase in flavour.
This was a hard one to try and compare. The smokiness and bitterness and tobacco scent/flavour all had me stumped. I’m still not sure I can think of a character that fits this tea, but my husband and I were rolling the words around, and we both felt pretty comfortable that if we could think of a fictional character, it would have been someone from a Western/cowboy novel. Maybe one of these days I should pick up Lonesome Dove or something.
Did you know that Elmore Leonard started out writing westerns before he moved on to crime fiction? I’ve only read one of his novels – Out of Sight – but I’d love to read more.