Posts Tagged ‘Pu Erh’
Tea Company: Canton Tea Co. (website)
Ingredients: Pu-erh tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use the gongfu style. A small teapot (or small amount of water) with 3-4 g of tea and hot water: 95°C (203°F) infused for just 20 secs. Reinfuse at least 6 times.
The chance to try this tea is something very special. Unfortunately, despite how special it was, I am not honestly sure which of Canton Tea Co’ Pu’erhs this tea is. “Canton Beeng Cha” is all that the label says, and from my limited knowledge of Chinese, I know that a “Beeng” or bing is a round cake of pu’erh. “Cha” is merely “tea.” That being said, I can be sure that this is a pu’erh!
I begin this session of tea by bringing some water to a boil, after which I rise my gaiwan, small pot, and teacup to preheat them. It is pretty amazing how much of a difference preheating ones teaware can make on the taste of the tea that follows. Next, I measure out about one teaspoon of this tea into my gaiwan. I typically use more than this for gong fu brewing (quick and multiple infusions), which is what the directions on the label seem to imply, but for now we will merely follow along. I perform a quick rinse of the leaves with hot water to “open” them.
The dry leaves have a very vegetal aroma, suggesting a raw pu’erh. Yet there is an underlying smokiness and clear, fresh smell to them as well. The first 20 second infusion is performed. The wet leaves smell more malty now, yet still slightly vegetal. Much to my surprise, the tea brews a very pale green. This is very interesting, and not at all what I was expecting. This first infusion carries a very thin flavor. It is clear and fresh, with a smooth, vegetal aftertaste. As per the instructions, I go ahead and resteep the leaves, figuring that it will be different in the second infusion.
Mmm, this tea really kicks it in gear with the second infusion. The vegetal pu’erh flavor floods the taste buds. It is incredibly smooth and just slides over the tongue. I am truly impressed. I put it through several more steepings, and this tea just keeps on impressing. Normally, I prefer cooked pu’erhs to raw pu’erhs, but with a tea like this, I can hardly afford to be biased. I would give this tea an 87/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.
You can purchase the 2010 Xing Hai Raw Beeng Cha directly from the Canton Tea Co. website.
Tea Company: Tao Tea Leaf (website)
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Warm up the tea ware before steeping. Rinse the leaves: Pour some hot water in the Gaiwan/Yixing Teapot, swish the leaves around a bit, and pour the water off. It really brings out the roasted smell and flavor of the tea. Then begin your infusion using the recommended directions. Gaiwan/Yixing Teapot: Use about 5g (2 teaspoons) each time ; Steep at 93°c (200°F) to 100°c (212°F) water for 50,20,20,30 second for the first four brewing; then the later is about 1 to 3 minutes. You can steep more than 9 times. All the information is based on our tea sommelier’s testing. You can change the steep time according to your personal favor but any water temperature alternation is strongly not recommended.
Wendy’s is pulling out the old “Where’s the Beef” commercials. And this is shaping my reaction to this tea, because I want to say “Where’s the Flavor?” because this tea was boring. Just flat out boring.
Opening the packet, it smells good. Rich and earthy, like a pu-erh should be. But brewed up, nothing stood out. I tried steeping it longer, and it didn’t help. And after three steeps, any flavor that was there was completely gone. This is NOT typical pu-erh behavior. Pu-erh should be able to be steeped for at least 4 or 5 steeps. I’ve had some good pu-erhs go all day. I’d forgive fewer steeps if the flavor was there, but with neither in place? This tea jumps, headfirst, into my “don’t bother” pile.
This tea might work for you, if you like the idea of pu-erhs, but the flavor tends to be too strong or too earthy for your tastes. But honestly, I’d just reccomend a really good puerh with short, quick steeps. I’d go with another of Tao Tea Leaf’s offerings instead.
You can purchase the Imperial Pu-er Classic (Shou) directly from the Tao Tea Leaf website.
Tea Company: Tao Tea Leaf (website)
Ingredients: Pu-erh Tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: not listed on website
The dry tuo cha smells of a smooth, cooked pu-er, but after rinsing this mini tuo in my gaiwan, the aromas of rice start to come out. Using just-boiled water, I prepare the first steeping. Light, golden-brown, the liquor is a bit cloudy and mingles a faint hint of rice with tea. The taste of this first steeping is not a flavourful as the aroma would suggest.
The second steeping gives off a darker brown infusion. This time it is hard to distinguish whether the tea is just very smooth or whether it lacks a lot of flavour. I suspect this is on account of the intense rice flavour, which seems to camouflage a lot of the pu-er nuances. Hopefully the rice flavours will give way soon and let the tea itself shine through.
Finally, with this third steeping, I am getting more of the flavour of the shou pu on which this tea is built. It is good, though perhaps not as amazing as I had hoped. I go ahead and put this tea through a couple more infusions. It is good, but I am left with the impression that it is lacking something. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would give it a 75/100.
You can purchase the Rice Shou Pu-erh directly from the Tao Tea Leaf website.
Tea Company: Chicago Tea Garden (website)
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Water Temperature: 212 deg F, 1st steep 30 sec, 2nd steep 30 sec, 3rd steep 45 sec, 4th steep 1 min
When the average American first learns of tea, then tend to learn about black tea (often Lipton-eqsue types of black tea) or herbals. If they’re lucky enough to start to explore the genre of tea, then the worlds of greens, whites and oolongs come into focus, but the pu-erhs often remain uncharted territory. Of all types of tea, pu-erhs seem the most mis-understood and mysterious teas out there. I often see people new to tea mention that they are *scared* of them. And, that can be understandable; some of the adjectives often associated with pu-erhs are big, strong, bold words like “leathery,” “earthy,” and in worst case scenarios “fish-tank-y.” I don’t want to drink a fish tank. Ew!
Personally, I’ve only started to stratch the surface of pu-erhs. And even in this small sampling I’ve had some that I’ve spit out, and some that I’ve absolutely adored. So I went into this tea with a very open mind – this one could be anything. It came in cute little mini-cakes smelling vaguely of rose. But it wasn’t as scented as the name suggested – I was expecting more floral On brewing, it steeped at a rich carmely brown – a little lighter than I’d expected. And the flavor was very smooth with a hint of a sweet finish. Not as much of the earthy strong characteristics I’ve come to associate with pu-erhs, but rather a medium-bodied brew. And again, not much floral, either in the scent or the flavor.
This is a rich and soft brew. Don’t come to this tea expecting lots of rose. You won’t find it. But you will find a nice mellow pu-erh. This would be a good springboard pu-erh for those afraid or hesitant to try them.
You can purchase the Rose Scenter directly from the Chicago Tea Garden website.
Tea Company: Grand Tea (website)
Vendor Suggested Preparation: not listed
My first visual impression of this compressed green pu-erh was the bottom of the leaf pile I raked to the curb two months ago that the city maintenance crew still hasn’t picked up. The first smell impression was a strong memory of Grandpa Jenkins’ damp cement-block garden shed resplendent with rusty spades and bins of stored potatoes. Which, lest you think otherwise, is not an unpleasant recollection.
Since my sample didn’t come with an instruction manual, I averaged the best advice I could find online and among acquaintances. Starting gingerly with a nugget the size of an unshelled almond, I gave it a quick rinse with hot kettle water. With water just underneath boiling, I steeped the first batch in a two-cup pot for a minute. The garden shed smell was still prominent, but the taste was lighter and mellower than the eau de potting soil I was bracing for. Almost maple-sugar sweet and leafy with a thickness on the tongue that I don’t generally associate with green teas.
The second steep, since I declared myself over my initial apprehension, was allowed to go a whopping extra 30 seconds. Color deepened just one tint from golden to dark amber, and the sweetness intensified equally.
I’ll end this narrative with Steep #3 (2 minutes, 30 seconds), which is still darker, still sweeter, and apparently still viable for several more steeps. As a newbie to the pu-erh spectrum, I think I should skipped Steeps 1 and 2 and just started here. Thanks, Grand Tea, for providing an afternoon of entertainment and analysis, as well as proof that even an untutored and clumsy tea preparer can learn to appreciate the personality of this unusual variety.
You can purchase the Year 2000 – 7542 Green Pu-erh directly from the Grand Tea website.