I’m brewing in a thick-walled gaiwan. After a rinse of these leaves, they have such a beautiful dark appearance, nearly black, sleek and shiny. The scent gives off notes of cocoa, sweet dough, and forest floor. A lot more of the sweet dough scent comes through in the smell of the brewed liquor.
I only rinsed this Puer once. Many people rinse Puer twice before drinking, especially Shu Puer. I tend to actually drink the rinse of a Sheng Puer if it is good enough, and drink the first infusion of a Shu Puer if it is good enough, rather than rinsing twice.
The flavor is much more sweet than I expected. It’s very rich. Mild, but full flavored. The sweetness of this one is a fruity kind of sweetness and really lingers in your mouth. I’m reminded of dark bing cherries.
The second infusion smells more rich and sweet. Darker flavors are coming through in the taste, very rich, very clean. I’m reminded of dark tasting fruit again, maybe fig. The first infusion had a hint of the “leathery” kind of taste that I’m used to in Shu Puer, but this infusion does not, so if you want to avoid that taste, two rinses would be ideal. While I feel the first infusion tasted good, this one would be a gentler starting point, especially if serving to guests. The taste that lingers in my mouth is like light brown sugar.
On the third infusion, I taste some umami (savoryness) coming into the flavor. There are still notes of dark fruit, this time reminding me more of plum, but they are subtler now. The feel of this tea in the mouth is still incredibly smooth, clean, and rich. It really coats the mouth and leaves a lasting flavor.
The fourth infusion is still rich and smooth, with similar flavors.
Fifth infusion is a little less sweet and has a lingering buttery taste. There are subtle notes of metal.
The sixth infusion is mellow and sweet again, a pretty straightforward Shu Puer flavor on the sweet side. It has the usual Shu notes of mild earth, wood, leather, old books, but they are equaled by the mellowness and sweetness.
Seventh infusion, back to more earthy, musty flavors, not particularly ones I enjoy, but neither are they offensive.
I pushed the eighth infusion much longer and it is back to having a sweet taste, this time like cane sugar with just a hint of cherry.
As ratings go, it’s always a bit tricky for me to form an opinion that merges my perception of the tea’s quality with my level of personal enjoyment for it. The ratings I give are really just personal notes so I can look back and remember quickly what I thought of all the teas I’ve tried without having to read the reviews again and again. This Puer did have some rich, sweet qualities in the earlier infusions that were superior to most of the Shu Cha I’ve tried, but I felt that later infusions weren’t holding onto the best flavors of it as well. Still, it was very clean and a really wonderful drinking experience, enough that I regard it highly among my experience with Shu Puer.