Received my puer sample order from Yunnan Sourcing last week, it’s been quite fun and tasty! I want to make sure I have all of them at least twice before I review, and so this is the first of the order to be reviewed.
As the water hits the leaf, a strong scent of the classic shou taste quickly emerges. The first brew is pretty dark compared to that of the few ripes I’ve tried, so I expected this to be a strongly tasting tea—I wasn’t wrong. There isn’t a whole lot of complexity here, but it’s pretty good with what it has. A fair amount of bitterness, which I’ve noticed that shou bitter is pretty different from sheng bitter, with the formal being similar to a black coffee bitter and the latter being more like bitter herbs. Of course, that makes perfect sense given the processing of ripe vs raw, but still a note of interest. Compared to the other ripe puer I’ve had, Man Tang Hong Te Ji is less sweet and has less clear taste tones. It’s just a fair amount of earthy depth with that top-of-mouth bitter and a hit of astringency. Nice and thick though, which offers a nice balance to the flavor profile.
To be perfectly honest, I’m still figuring out what my preferences are in terms of this category of tea. I’m slowly beginning to notice the differences between ripe teas, which at first all tasted like wet leaves slowly decaying on a forest floor (which is far from a bad thing). There are notes beyond this, though, and samples are allowing my palate to learn. Regardless, I enjoyed it because of the fact that ripe puer on a chilly autumn day is quickly becoming one of my favorite things.
EDIT: oh, I forgot to mention that this has a really powerful energy that I started feeling after the third cup, definitely less mellow than the energy I’ve gotten from other shou—seems to be more caffeine jumpy.