We drank this gong-fu style in a zisha clay pot. We did several infusions. The first we used to rinse the leaves and cups, and then tossed. The second we drank. Whoa. This is like the smoked whiskey of teas. Very heady woodsy scent with lots of shiitake mushroom. A bit bitter on the back of your tongue. The mouthfeel was pretty dry and flat. I didn’t like that very much.
Four more infusions in, the color and taste started to lighten up. It began to have an almost creamy texture and super subtle sweetness. The mushroom funkiness was still there but much lighter and more pleasant. The scent became more like aged rice paper.
So pu-erh is still not my favorite tea, much like how I don’t like whiskey infused with smokey wood chips. So manly. But I can definitely appreciate its complexity now. Like other fermented things (aged cheese, beer, etc) it has a definite funk. Some like that, some don’t. I like my teas refreshing and bright. This tea is more like a comforting old library with leather chairs and dust motes dancing in the air.