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Recent Tasting Notes
From the EU TTB
It’s not often that I really crave shu, but it’s happening more now that the weather is getting colder. I’m probably also starting to understand it a little better than I did previously – I’m more familiar with how to prepare it to suit my tastes, and with the kind of flavours I’m likely to be confronted with. This Pu-erh is in the form of a tuocha, and comes wrapped in the most adorable pink and white paper, decorated with a tiny picture of a rose. There’s an actual dried rose bud pressed into the top of the actual tuocha, which is a nice touch. I rinsed it for 30 seconds in boiling water prior to the first infusion.
My first steep was for 1.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium red brown, the scent earthy with mild manure-ish notes. The tuocha itself has just about held together. I was expecting a reasonably pungent flavour, but it’s actually fairly gentle. There’s an immediate earthiness, like soil or compost, which is one of the things I’m coming to love most about shu pu-erh. Underneath that is a delicate sweetness, almost floral and very slightly reminiscent of sugared rose water. Intriguing!
Second steep for 1 minute in boiling water. The liquor is much darker this time, a deep red-brown verging on black. The scent is much earthier, with strong earthy notes reminiscent of compost and leaf mulch. Thankfully, the manure has all but disappeared from this steep! The tuocha has disintegrated pretty much completely this time. The flavour is still gentle and mellow – a distinctive earthiness, very reminiscent of freshly turned compost this time – but not too pungent. I’m not getting as much floral sweetness this time, possibly because the earthiness is now a little more prominent. I’m starting to wonder about the goji berry, though. Am I supposed to be able to taste it?
Third steep for 40 seconds in boiling water. The liquor is, again, fairly dark – a deep red brown. The scent is strongly earthy, and these notes translate into the flavour. It’s still a very smooth, mellow cup. The main flavour here is compost, with perhaps a hint of “damp” edging in. I’m thinking forest floor after a heavy rain shower! Still no goji berry.
Fourth steep also for 40 seconds in boiling water. The liquor is starting to become lighter again, still a red brown but closer to mahogany than flat black. The scent is still earthy, although less strongly now. It wasn’t particularly strong to begin with, so there’s a marked deterioration here. To taste, I think I’m finally beginning to get the goji berry! The earthiness is no longer the dominant flavour – instead it’s a mildly spicy, almost peppery flavour with just a touch of sweetness. I find goji berry hard to describe, but if you’ve eaten one before you’ll know what I mean. There is still some earthiness, but it’s far less pronounced. It’s not really compost anymore – just leaf mulch and a touch of “damp”. It’s still a smooth, mellow cup.
Fifth steep also for 40 seconds in boiling water. The liquor is lighter again this time- a red-orange now. The scent is still earthy, although noticeably milder. There is noticeably less flavour this time around, although it’s still pleasantly earthy. The goji berry has disappeared again, but I’m a fan of compost-y shu so I don’t mind all that much. I’m probably going to stop here simply because I’m running out of time, and because the majority of flavour is all but gone anyway.
I enjoyed my day with this one, particularly the third and fourth steeps. This is an easy pu-erh to drink – not too pungent in terms of both scent and flavour, and very smooth and mellow. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try this one!
I have had this a few times and must have forgotten to review it. Whoops! Just as well I have a large cloth bag full of them. I was reminded of this tea when I rummaged my stash to find supplies for the EU TTB, of which this one has been included.
This tea is from Jiulu Tea whom I found on Aliexpress and my reason for buying this particular tea is that I had never tried goji berry in Pu Erh before. It sounded like a nice combination of sweet and earthy.
I like the little wrappers for the mini tuocha, they have a small goji berry flower like symbol on them, along with 4g (which always comes in handy).
In appearance on the smooth side of the mini tuocha there is a single goji berry flower pressed/molded right into them. Wonderful contrast of yellow, green and dark pink/red against the dark and golden brown Pu Erh. So cute! They smell dry, wooden and musky with strong earthy tones. Frankly as you expect Pu Erh to smell, though it is a little disappointing that I cannot smell the goji berry.
Leaf – 2 x Tuocha – 8g
Water – 100C
Method – 100ml Gaiwan
Rinse – 1st for 3 seconds and 2nd for 5 seconds
Reason for both rinses being that I’m trying to unleash the goji berry goodness, as much as possible.
First Steep – 10 seconds
Mahogany in colour with a musky, deep earth scent with some smoke and wood.
Flavour is quite soft and damp tasting with some dryness and a touch of sweetness in the after taste. Smooth for a first steep (which must have been due to two rinses). Also has elements of clay, wood and mild leather.
Second Steep – 15 seconds
Musk and fresh soil greet me at first sip, though smoothly before a soft, floral sweetness develops into a dry after taste. Some clay and damp wood tones too. A little stronger than the previous steep but only just. Also sour for a second before it smoothing itself out.
Third steep – 25 seconds
Darker appearance – reminds me of soy sauce.
More musk and less smooth at this point. Also has a herbal taste that is sour and damp. Not sweet as it once appeared. Dryness remains and takes over in the after taste.
Fourth Steep – 30 seconds
Thicker in flavour though less musk and more damp soil. Also more smooth, slight sourness left but not much. Remains dry in the after taste but the sweetness if coming back slightly as well from the goji berry. Still a herbal sweetness above all else but it makes a nice change.
Fifth Steep – 45 seconds
Another nice steep, perhaps my favourite so far. It’s a lot smoother than it was and the flavours are more balanced. It’s thick in warm, fresh, damp soil but in a way that makes me think of a forest late at night. Light smoke, musk and herbal tastes with dryness break apart my hazy day dream which just leaves me asking for more.
Cryptic in terms of a review I suppose but that is what it made me think of and part of my
reviews is to incorporate my experience, thoughts and feelings with others. To share a vulnerable part of myself with the world, in a sense.
Sixth Steep – 1 minute
Back to mahogany in colour.
Smooth and soil like still, if anything the dryness is not as bad as the start. Unless I am just used to it? Sweeter I think than any other steep, particularly towards the after taste. Beautiful surprise.
Seventh Steep – 1 minute 30 seconds
Going milder now, but as it does it increases in sweetness. Finally! I have been hoping the goji would have more flavour than it has. No wood or smoke at this point. Also dryness truly is disappearing.
Eigth Steep – 2 minutes
I would say sweet herbs and soil is all that really remains. Sweet enough to be counted as brown sugar like. Not a whole spoon of it but a pinch.
Ninth Steep – 3 minutes
Not much remains but that touch of sweetness is a nice reminder of what once was.
I said it earlier but it’s worth mentioning again, the goji berry did not taste as strong as I was expecting. It wasn’t a case of tasting it and going “oh yes, that is goji berry right there”. If I didn’t know what it was then I would have guessed it had some herb in it, something I probably hadn’t heard of and wouldn’t have thought to mention much of. Still it was ‘different’ yet at the same time the Pu Erh was nice enough and ‘typical’. So yes, it was not as special as it looks and sounds but it did what I expect of a basic Pu Erh.
I bought a whopping 125g of this to re-stock my cupboards, it was a tragedy to run out of Long Jing. This was a risk buy from AliExpress, I bought a teapot set from the same seller so thought it may as well come with some tea too.
This is my new tea set, which also how I will be drinking this Long Jing tonight.
The leaves are dark and medium green with a sweet yet dry floral scent and hints of butter. There are some stems and broken leaves present, not quite the quality I was expecting, at least so far.
In flavour this is mild in strength with butter, sweet grass and mixed flowers. It’s clean tasting despite it’s rough look, though it’s mildness is surprising. Also it’s dryness is not too bad. Further steeps become sweeter and it lingers in the mouth. Light mineral taste too, maybe fresh spinach.
It tasted better than I thought though next time I will try a stronger steep. I tend to like my Long Jing strong, though I’m happy I can drink it mildly if necessary. Will just have to experiment.
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Spinach, Sweet, Warm Grass