Happy pi day! I don’t have any pie-flavored teas right now, so I’m going for a pu instead. This one comes to me courtesy of Angel at TeaVivre. Thank you!

I’ve only had a handful of pu-erhs before. I didn’t like them much (too much dirt/leather/fishiness), so I’m entering this tasting with a bit of trepidation.

I am using one of my favorite pieces of teaware today: a gaiwan-teapot hybrid that I picked up in Taiwan for a comically low price. It is the size and shape of a gaiwan, but it also has a spout and handle. Aesthetically pleasing + easy to use = win. I used the whole sample packet, which filled a little less than half of the gaiwanpot. Per packet and website instructions, I used boiling water throughout.

The dry leaf smells ok. Earthy and slightly oaky. After a 5 second rinse, I steeped the leaf for 20 seconds. The brew is a light golden color. It has that earthy pu-erh scent with a hint of floral. The wet leaves smell awful – boggy, almost rotten. The flavor of the brew is savory, darkly bitter, and muddy. Not a very promising start.

The second steep was 30 seconds long. The golden color of the brew is more vibrant this time. The smell is earthy and vaguely floral again, but also peaty. The flavor is bitter bitter bitter and somewhere under there is still some muddiness.

I would normally add 10 seconds for the next steep, but the second steep was so bitter that I don’t want to risk overdoing it. So the third steep was 30 seconds long. The brew looks and smells lovely, but the sharp bitterness is still here.

I did the fourth steep at 30 seconds again. This one came out slightly less bitter, with a tree-ish undercurrent.

I can’t do this anymore. No more steeps. This tea is clearly not for me. I won’t rate it because I have no idea whether this is objectively bad for a pu or just bad to me because I don’t generally enjoy pu-erh. I suppose it’s possible that I overleafed. I don’t think so though. After four steeps, the leaf only fills about ⅔ of the gaiwanpot. I’ve successfully brewed oolongs and blacks that nearly overflow the pot after enough steeps. Alas, the search for a pleasing pu marches on.

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