So I started a session with this one last night. And again the first thing I smelled on both the dry and wet leaf was pond water. I steeped this one up for the 30 seconds and holy darkness. For some reason I was expecting this one to be light. But it’s was almost black.
The liquor smelled just like the wet leaf, pond water, something I don’t remember Special Dark’s liquor smelling like. I’m thinking I definitely should have rinsed this. That first cup tasted similar to how it smelled, like pond water and mud. I ended up dumping half the cup. The next steep was a little better. Less pond and mud taste (I guess earthy in a wet way). Now I’m starting to get other notes, there’s a slight sweetness, and something not quite earthy but I’m not sure what it is.
The third steep, most of the pond scum smell and taste was completely gone and for the next three steeps the flavor continued to mellow and mingle and confuse but please my taste buds. My tongue is not refined enough to pick out flavors, but once I hit the third steeping I ha begun to relax into this puerh. It started to feel safe, like it was trying to show me a preview of could come if I continue down the rabbit hole that is puerh. Now I really think that a good rinse or maybe two would have eliminated those first two awkward cups and put me right into this sweet spot to begin with.
The 6th or 7th steep seemed a little bit weaker, and since by this point it was nearly 2am I decided to cold steep the last steep overnight. I strained and tried it first thing this morning, and detected a surprising note that I really wasn’t expecting and don’t know where it came from: grapes. This cold steeped and lightly sweetened taste like grapes and a tinge if cocoa, some of that almost earthiness, and I want to say browned sugar. The other notes were there in the hot cups but just seem more identifiable this time. But I don’t remember grapes last night, yet there they are this morning.
I still find it so amazing that a straight tea can have so many different notes, without adding any flavors.