I am officially, certifiably crazy. I tried this about a year ago, and it’s been one of the VERY few (only?) teas I couldn’t even get past the 1st sip. But I’ve decided to get back into pu erhs again, and I’ve already had major success w/ Numi’s bagged version of their chocolate pu erh. I decided to use some of the frequent cup points I’ve banked to buy this and their pu erh poe so if I don’t like it, I only paid $0.75 to top off shipping. Now since I bought both and already hated this one once, you’d think I’d try the other one 1st. But nope. I want to conquer my fears.
It’s the middle of winter, so the tins were VERY cold. I smelled it right away and was shocked. Last time, the aroma of the raw leaves were that of a septic tank leak and almost made me vomit. But this time, they are much more faint. While there is the deep, complex aroma typical of black teas w/ a hint of earthiness and maybe even a touch of fecality, it’s nothing like I remember.
The preparation is also vastly different this time. Last time I steeped 1tsp (1.88g) in 6oz boiling water for 5 min. This time I went to Carolyn for advice. She suggested using 1g per 1oz water (I made a 4oz cuppa), rinsing the leaves in boiling water for 15sec, then doing a 20sec 1st steep. The only deviation I made from this was that I just just below boiling water for both the rising and the steeping because I wanted to preserve the health benefits.
I’m shocked at how dark the rinsing liquid gets… I almost cry as I dump it. But if adding this step is necessary for authentic preparation and a better cuppa, then that’s what I’ll do.
The 1st infusion is also very dark. Coffeeish. The aroma is like a lot of black teas: deep, complex, and earthy. I take a sip praying my gag reflex won’t kick in. And I’m pleasantly surprised. While it is deep, complex, and earthy just like the aroma… it does not taste like my worst enemy shoved me face 1st into a cow pie!
I am not a black tea person per se, but I am fairly certain that a person who is and prepares this tea using Carolyn’s recommendations will be quite satisfied.