Found a few of these in my Mandala mini tuo sampler pack. Had to google a ton of different things before “gold wrapped tuo puerh” popped up a picture hit which led me to this page. Thanks again, Steepster! These are definitely what I have, at least in image alone.
Anyway, I did two quick rinses and the mini tuo is just starting to loosen after the 1st steep of 10-12 seconds. First infusion flavor is light, delicate, enjoyable.
Second steep, 10 seconds. Man, this little guy is really holding onto its shape. Am I suppose to help it along in breaking up? I don’t know but I find myself being in the camp of “leaf (heh) it the hell alone” and let nature take its course. The typical ripe shu smell is a bit stronger and the color is becoming a bit more brick red compared to the last one. I’m really enjoying the flavor here. Smooth, velvety down the throat. An earthy caramel flavor.
3rd steep, 10 seconds. I know I am supposed to back off a bit with the time on the third steep (generally speaking) but I’ll be damned if this tuo is still holding form. After pouring out the liquid from the leaves, I used a blunt instrument (okay, it was my finger. I know this is probably frowned upon. The color of the liquor looks to be the same. The wet leaf had a smokey chocolate scent to it. Oh no..the flavor is still a light earthy chocolate with some smokiness. The horror… Hold up here. I think I just discovered a small thin.. piece of straw(?) at the bottom of one of my cups. Like… delicately small and thin but that is still what it resembles to me on the tip of my finger. Eh, whatever. Moving on.
4th steep. Oh, hey, guess who is a moron? I had assumed I put my electric kettle for a 212F temp. Just looked before this steep. Nope. It has been at 195F this whole time. Perhaps that is what has accounted for the light flavors and slow break up of the tuo… Oh well. I’ve enjoyed the taste thus far so, meh. Let’s see what the correct temperature brings me, shall we?
10 seconds. Again. And again, the tuo holds its shape and still feels pretty solid to the core. Yes, I used my finger again. Care to guess which one? Flavor and colors are both holding steady. Smooth and tasty. The scent of the wet leaves now has a sugary caramel scent. Not quite burnt… but reminiscent. At the risk of, well, very little, I am going to up the time a tad on this next steep.
Steep 5, 15 seconds (at 212 this time). Well, the tuo is still holding shape, though I do detect some sponginess this time around. The scent is the same. The color is slightly, ever so slightly, darker. The higher temp and longer steep time seems to have brought out a little bit more of the mushroom earthiness but it is still pretty subdued for a ripe. I’m still enjoying it quite a bit. You watch, this thing is going to fall apart in my gaiwan and just release a torrent of intense-ness that it has been holding onto and saving up.
Steep 6, 20 seconds. I should clarify here. There has always been some loose leaf settling on the bottom, so it’s not like there is no leaf loosening here and it’s all just one solid tuo. Anywho, the tuo is still mostly together but I think I am getting to it. I was able to push/mush some leaf off the main piece. But dang, that middle core still feels decently solid. Am I obsessing now? I’m obsessing now. You know what, just to prove I can stop, I am not going to mention the core of the tuo until it completely falls apart.
During this steep I got a whiff that so clearly and instantly reminded me of a salmon and rice dinner. Not in a bad fishy way normally associated with some bad ripes but in a very delicate and delicious way. Color is sitting somewhere between brick red and caramel brown. Flavor is mostly the same but a little bolder now. Still smooth and delicious.
Steep 7, 25 seconds. A mocha syrupy color reveals itself. Close your eyes and imagine what a solid, recognizable ripe puerh tastes like. I’m pretty sure you are envisioning this. There is a slight mineral undertone/after taste in this one as well.
Steep 8, Screw it, 40 seconds. And guess what? We have a broken up tuo. The color now reminds me of a dark roasted coffee. There also seems to be a roasty mushroom scent to the wet leaf. My patience and now devil may care attitude in the last steep have combined to make this brew a toasty cocoa creamy goodness. Best one thus far. Thanks tuo for finally releasing all of your treasures.
Annnnd the tea drunk just hit.
Steep 9, 45ish? seconds. Coffee color still remains. Delicious flavor as well.
So, I have to go before this tea has really given up all I think it has to offer. Where do I have to go? A tea tasting at an English Cottage Tea House. Hahahhahah.
Edit- I realize this review sounds a bit manic and thanks for hanging in there for the novel but I was in an extra good mood. Was it the best tea I’ve ever had? No, probably not. Was it the most fun I had while drinking a tea? Perhaps. And isn’t that all that matters?
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Smoke