Scent in package: Earthy and malty, typical Yunnan tea scent
Brewed in: 6oz. Yixing teapot
Steeping (212 degrees): 1st infusion: 1 min., 2nd infusion: 3 min., 3rd infusion: 3 min., 4th infusion: 4 min.
Cup: Clarity glass cup from Adagio
First, I have to say, it felt sacrilegious to use a glass cup with my new tiny Yixing teapot, bought specifically for my foray into the world of Pu-erh tea. But I don’t currently own any “traditional” teacups (that’s what happens when you spend all of your money on tea), and I did want to see the color of the brew. I was a little apprehensive about trying this tea, as there are so many warnings about the earthy, sometimes musty taste of Pu-erh, but I wanted to try it at least, for the experience more than anything. Little did I know that my experiment would plunge me into a new level of appreciation for this “fine wine” of the tea world.
Pu-erh is aged, and often compressed into bricks, blocks, or little round birds nests, which is the shape this particular pu-erh comes in. To brew this tea, you crumble one of the nests into the pot, then pour boiling water over it. Typically the first infusion is used to rinse the tea, as pu-erh can get dusty or dirty as it ages. This particular tea seemed “clean”, as it came wrapped in a thin paper and sealed in a plastic package, but I wanted to experience it to the fullest, so after straining the first infusion into my cup, I poured it back over my teapot for "seasoning", and started another steeping with freshly boiled water. The first infusion was very dark, even after only 1 minute, and smelled like a very strong Yunnan tea, very malty. I let the 2nd infusion steep the full three minutes, and strained it into my cup, noting the breathtaking deep red color when held up to the light. This tea is very dark, and seems like it would be strong, but the first sip is absolutely heavenly. The taste is very earthy, with a malty undertone like a strongly brewed Assam. It is amazingly smooth on the tongue, and leaves an incredible aftertaste in the mouth that is almost sweet. The texture is thicker than most teas, a pleasant feeling against the palate. The 2nd infusion was definitely my favorite, though I may try the 1st infusion as well next time.
The 3rd and fourth infusions were understandably lighter, but still brewed to a golden reddish brown the color of a “normal” cup of tea. The taste was still superb, the texture still sublime, and every sip left me relaxed and peaceful, with a very pleasant aftertaste. This is truly the Cadillac of tea for me, and an absolute necessity in my kitchen from now on. I can hardly wait to try the Organic Pu-erh sample still waiting in the cupboard (also from Dragonwater), and I will gladly be ordering and sampling pu-erh teas from other companies as well. It was truly a wonderful experience, and one that I’d highly recommend to anyone who likes the malty, earthy taste of Yunnan and Assam type teas.