When I first went on a tea ordering tear, I ordered some things from Norbu and I got this as what I think is a very generous sample size. I certainly didn’t get a 250g brick. The packet says this weighs 25g.
It appears to be a piece of the bigger brick, because it is not loose. So now I need to do a quick crash course from the internet on how to pry loose tea from a pu erh brick. This is my first time, so please be gentle.
I broke out the tool I bought for this purpose a while back. It’s a bone knife similar to this:
I am using the Yunnan Sourcing “fill about a quarter of the gaiwan with tea” method rather than weighing the tea.This makes me think I used a bit too much tea with the tuo cha because the first steep of this one, 10 seconds after 2 rinses, is the color of cognac. Not leaning toward espresso. In the sample packet, the tea has a fishy smell, but there’s not much of that after steeping.
Instead, there’s a lot of soil to the smell and a caramel/cocoa note that is not strong.
Second, 10 sec. This time the liquor is darker. Brandy headed toward dark amber beer color. There is no fishiness, just a mild, pleasant earthiness. I am getting mushroom here as well, though it is more subtle than in the Rishi I had earlier today. I’m getting excited about the possibilities of the various pu erhs I have. I am also thinking about my yixing pots. I need to remind myself which I seasoned for this type of tea. Very mild, very mellow, a softness in the sip that leaves a sort of freshness in the mouth. A slight sweetness at the end of the sip, as well.
3rd, 20 sec. OK, now I feel the need to bone up on my understanding of pu erh and how to tell better quality ones. I don’t know for sure, but I feel as though this is better quality than the Rishi I had earlier just because the flavor seems more refined. Smoother. This steep is darker still, sort of a mahogany color. I detect a sort of coffee note here, along with the mushroom. More sweetness is emerging.
4th, 30 sec. The caramel/coffee notes are at the top of the aroma. The color is redder, and a little lighter. The tea has lost some of its earthier aspects. The soil note isn’t present here.
5th, 40 sec. I’m getting a mocha note this time that is quite pleasant.
6th, 1 min. I’m not really getting much of a change from steep 5. The tea seems to have settled into itself. Since I’ve gone this far, I might as well go to 10, but I’m going to spend more time thinking and less time writing unless something amazing comes out of one of the next steeps: 2 min, 4 min, 6 min, 8 min.I made it all the way to the end! I think forcing myself to do this will be good for me. I spend to much time running to the next thing, and not enough time just being.
I can’t say I noticed a ton of different in the last few steeps. But the tea remained enjoyable and flavorful to the end.
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Coffee, Earth, Fishy, Mocha, Mushrooms