I’m in an adventurous mood, so I’m going to try a tea I bought on a whim and am most likely not going to like. Yep, it’s my second experience with the dreaded puer!! Dun dun DUN!
Just from reading the label, it’s already a new experience for me. You’re supposed to steep 4 grams in 4 oz. of boiling water for 3-5 seconds. And you get 20+ infusions??! Wow. Okay, here goes nothing.
First, the aroma. Leather. It smells exactly like leather. I like wearing leather and smelling leather but drinking leather? Hmm. First sip is…surprising. I do taste leather but there’s a lot more going on too. It’s very complex. Naturally sweet and a tad spicy. Aromatic and interesting. Wow!! Maybe I can enjoy puer?
I’d never be able to go 20+ infusions if I drank the whole cup each time, so I’m going to take a few sips, pour it out, and then move on to the next steep. Please forgive this blasphemous behavior. I can tell from that first cup alone that this is a high quality tea that any puer enthusiast would drool over. Lucky for this tea, I just set up a swap with someone who does like puer. So, the rest of this ½ ounce sample will go to the loving home of Shmiracles!! :)
Anyway, back to the mission at hand. Here are my thoughts from my inexperienced tongue:
1st steep: As described above, but also with a bit of something akin to dry autumn grassiness. The aftertaste is reminiscent of a high quality green; something like Organic Dragon Tip.
2nd steep: Wow! Burned my mouth. That’s HOT! Anyway, the leather is a little more enjoyable now and not so horse saddle-like. The grassiness/vegetal flavor is more pronounced now as well and reminds me of buttery vegetables. I had to read the description for more ideas of how to describe this unique flavor. I definitely get the association with oak. It is oak-y.
3rd steep: Leather is continuing to fade and is being replaced by a floral oak-y-ness and buttery vegetables. This is the first steep that I detected floral notes. This infusion also has a great umami!! Buttery and silky smooth. My favorite mouthfeel and flavor so far.
4th steep: At this point, the buds are open. Leather is almost completely gone now. Floral oak is the most prominent flavor now. It still has that buttery vegetable aftertaste too. This is becoming more and more drinkable for me! I can say that I’m actually enjoying it!
5th steep: Floral oak. Buttery vegetable. And some unidentifiable puer-ness that distinguishes itself as definitely not a green tea, despite the similarities I’m finding. After this cup, my teapot ran out of hot water. So, I had to wait while I boiled more.
6th steep: Same as 5 above but maybe a tad lighter on flavor. Very enjoyable.
7th steep: Went with a little longer steep this time. About 15 seconds. A tad more spiciness is apparent, matching what I tasted in that first cup.
I’m getting a little bored now though, so I think I’ll call it quits here. Although I’m rating it a 79, I’d probably rate it a 100 if I actually liked puer. A 79 from me is extremely high considering that my only other puer experience gathered a whopping 25 and was thrown out after a couple sips. No re-steeps there. So, don’t mistake me; I’m giving this one high praise!!
I have the 2012 variety by the way. Also, the liquor was extremely light yellow the entire time for me. It never reached that light brown color as pictured. But I did use very short steeps. Another thing to note, it’s really hard not to burn your mouth in between steeps. How do you puer drinkers do it? I don’t have a gaiwan, so I just used my regular stainless steel infuser basket and 8 ounce owl mug (although I was careful to only fill it up halfway each time).