I ordered a sample of this tea late last year when I was exploring shu pu-erh. I then later ended up with a second sample that came free with another order from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company. At the time I ordered this tea, the idea of a basic shu for daily consumption sounded appealing. Since then, I have come to the conclusion that I am not the sort of person who just has to drink some pu-erh every day, though I still do appreciate pu-erh and semi-routinely roll the dice on bricks, tuos, and cakes that interest me. I am at a point where I think I now prefer shu to sheng because when I reach for pu-erh, I tend to go for shu much more frequently. Last week, I was in the mood for shu and finally reached for this one. I found it to be a very good, clean shu with very little lingering fermentation aroma and flavor.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a single 10 second rinse in 212 F water (after sniffing the tea, I determined that a second rinse was not necessary), I allowed my 9 gram sample to sit for a few minutes (I did not really time it) to loosen the compression and then steeped it in 212 F water for 10 seconds. This initial infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry chunk of tea brick emitted aromas of earth, dark wood, and mushroom. After the rinse, I picked up aromas of dark wood, mushroom, earth, and forest floor. The first infusion allowed a slight chocolate scent and hints of tree bark to emerge. I found flavors of dark wood, tree bark, mushroom, moist earth, and forest floor in the mouth. The mouthfeel was very creamy and smooth. I noted emerging hints of caramel and chocolate on the finish. Subsequent infusions brought forth stronger caramel and chocolate aromas and flavors, as well as touches of plum, raisin, jujube, vanilla, and subtle menthol and camphor. At times, I could find faint impressions of black cherry, bread, and malt. I noted some lingering sweetness and relatively strong cooling, calming sensations on the finish that had decent staying power. This tea just felt smooth and mellow. It was very relaxing. The later infusions were mild, washing out quickly and displaying subtle impressions of minerals and cooling herbal touches with more noticeable hints of sweetness.
Alright, I am no pu-erh expert, but I found this tea to be very enjoyable. I’m sure the way I brewed it caused it to fade quickly, but honestly, this tea still displayed decent staying power regardless. I could see it making a great introduction to shu pu-erh because it was so clean and consistent throughout the session. There was no overt funkiness to it and it was not too earthy on the nose or in the mouth. Furthermore, I found it to have just enough complexity to remain intriguing without ever being all that challenging. While I have no doubt that extremely experienced pu-erh drinkers would likely find this tea kind of plain, I could also see them perhaps appreciating it as a daily drinker for its consistency and pleasant, easygoing nature. And considering that this tea was only ever intended to be taken as a daily drinker and/or as an introduction to quality shu, I think it is a brilliant success.
Flavors: Bark, Bread, Camphor, Caramel, Cherry, Chocolate, Dark Wood, Earth, Forest Floor, Fruity, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Mushrooms, Plum, Raisins, Vanilla