When ordering from Tea Side some time ago, I tried make use of their offering of various samples of aged raw pu-erh, a category I have very little experience with. This particular one is very much an educational experience rather than anything else, which easily justifies even the price of $2 per gram. Even though I won’t be rushing to get a cake of it, I can actually see myself looking for a similarly aged tea even in this price range in the future. To a large degree, I would find its value to be in terms of being just pretty distinct from the rest of my collection. However, one thing to take into account absent other considerations is that this tea lasts about twice as long as I would expect from teas with good endurance! In this particular session, I oversteeped some of the early infusions and I still ended up with about 400ml/g eventually (the last five steeps being boiled for several minutes on a stove).
Now, the tea itself is very earthy and woody, but ultimately I think it would count as an example of a “clean” aged tea for sure. The cha qi is calming and very pleasant, but much more subtle than younger examples of premium sheng I’ve had the chance of getting to know. I don’t know if it can be partly attributed to the tea, but I did relax pretty well after a stressful week and managed to reduce the tension in my neck and back. Somehow, one of the most memorable aspects is probably the mouthfeel though. The liquor is smooth, heavy, soft and incredibly oily. It is engaging from the first infusion all the way until the last, 22nd, one.
I can’t really think of many ways to describe the aroma, but it does have a milky and woody nature throughout. One scent that stands out among my notes from the middle of the session as quite an unusual and unexpected one is rose – I am not sure if I was imagining it honestly.
The taste, on top of the underlying earthy and woody ones, displays medicinal, nutty, herbaceous and flowery notes. There are flavours like cumin, tree sap, coca leaf, nutmeg, parsnip, fenugreek, vanilla, orange blossom and others. It is pretty sweet throughout, while retaining a nice bitter bite. Late in the session, the flavour profile moves more towards the mineral and higher notes, but still keeps significant earthiness present until the end.
Early on in the session, the aftertaste is very protracted, but it starts somewhat benign and ramps up over time. It is subtle overall, not pungent in any way and yet complex and evolving. Sweet, tart and camphor like sensations dominate, with notes of fireplace, molasses and licorice among others.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE5Swq7N-Ns
Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Earth, Fireplace, Flowers, Licorice, Medicinal, Milk, Mineral, Molasses, Nutmeg, Orange Blossom, Parsley, Plants, Rose, Sap, Smooth, Spices, Sweet, Tart, Vanilla, Vegetables, Wet Wood, Wood