Monday, April 16, 2007

Golden Puerh from Art of Tea

Scent in package: musty, a light earthy scent, typical of puerh
Brewed in: Tea for one here at work
Steeped: 4 min@ 212 deg., 5 min. @ 212 degrees
Cup: café mug at work

I probably wouldn’t have spent the $14.00 for 2oz. of this tea if I hadn’t had a coupon to use on my order. I wouldn’t say I “detest” loose puerh, but in my experience it’s not as good as compressed puerh, so I kind of went out on a limb with this tea. I do wish I knew the year/how long it’s been aged…the Art of Tea web site does not reveal these pesky details, but it would be handy to have (for example, the Dragonwater web site tells us that their Golden Puerh is aged 5 years/2001). Obviously this tea has been aged, they just don’t tell us how long.

I’ve drank it twice now, both times at work, two infusions each time. If you decide to try some, definitely rinse the leaves first, or you won’t enjoy the first infusion for the astringency. The other thing I’ve noticed with the first infusion is sourness – it’s rare that any tea has a sour taste in my experience, but the first infusion of this one definitely tastes sour the longer it cools.

The second infusion is much better – smooth, earthy, and no hint of sourness, but there is a little astringency that leaves that slight dryness in the mouth and on the tongue. There is a small amount of a “cooling” feeling in the back of the throat, but nothing spectacular by any means. To be honest, while it’s drinkable and far more enjoyable than the other loose puerhs I’ve tried, it’s still not anything to get excited about, in my opinion.

I’m going to reserve final judgment on it for now, and put it aside for awhile on my aging shelf in a basket to get some air. I’ll try it again during “puerh week” next month brewed true gongfu style in a Yixing pot, and see how that goes, maybe save a small bit to try again in a year or so (I have no idea if it will age more or not, but as expensive as it was, I may as well try). The AOT web site claims that it’s “aged to perfection”, so perhaps this tea is as good as it’s going to get, and I shouldn’t waste the shelf space storing it…

I have a hunch that my money would have been better spent on a large tuo-cha or some sort of pressed puerh, but we’ll see. If you have an extra $14.00 to buy a couple of ounces ($86.00 for a pound), try it – as I said, it’s much better than your average loose puerh, just not as good as pressed (cooked or raw, of those I’ve tried so far).

I’ll revisit and review this tea again during my Puerh Week in May.

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