(May 2022 tea club)
2022 Spring Old Arbor Raw Puer Tea ~50g – picked, processed and pressed in April of 2022. While always weather dependent, some Puer teas are picked in late March, with old arbor teas springing forth later than their plantation counterparts. This spring in particular there was an abnormal amount of early rain that played havoc with production. Much of the tea I tried this spring was weak and thin, making tea selection significantly more difficult than usual. Areas that would typically yield beautiful tea were churning out low quality teas. Amid a spate of lockdowns in China, many tea buyers were also unable to come to Xishuangbanna and had to purchase blind on sought after teas, and unluckily for them this was a particularly dangerous year to buy on good faith alone. Good teas disappeared within the day they were produced, barring even sampling as an option for those locked down just a few cities away. Luckily for you, you’ve got me to sort through the thin rainy teas and choose a gem like this one. I selected this tea box by box from a few productions made on consecutive sunny days (belaboring this point, but it really did pay to be on the ground this year!). This tea is thick and sweet, with bright aromas and an engaging steep to steep evolution. The fragrances of the tea linger in the mouth and throat with a coating sticky sweetness that will get thicker and more concentrated with time. Have a session upon arrival and jot a few notes on the wrapper. Then, if you’ve got the willpower, put this tea away for a month or two and try it again. The difference should be palpable. Take notes, stash away and repeat. Watching fresh tea evolve over the first year is a great educational moment in how teas age.
Brewing instructions: Gongfu style, with roughly 6g per 100ml in your vessel. Personally, I would use boiling water for this tea. However, if you are opposed to astringency, bitterness and/or intensity, we recommend that you drop the temp down to as low as 85C. You might want to try a session at 85C/90C to explore the difference when steeping fresh raw Puer tea, or if you can wait until the June club, you will have a giant 200g cake to experiment with so that you can save that precious old arbor tea.