Brewed in: Porcelain gaiwan
Steeped: Just under boiling for all infusions: 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 35s, 40s, 35s, 20s
Cup: 1oz porcelain cup
This is the oldest beeng I have, and last night as I was choosing which one to try next, I picked this one solely because it smelled so very good. Trust the nose…last night’s session with this puerh was a most enjoyable experience. And I even got better pictures (moved to the dining room – and cleaned the camera lens!).
The beeng looks wonderful as well as smelling wonderful. It’s smooth, dark, and the leaves look crisp and healthy pressed into the cake. I was dreading trying to pry out the leaves at the edge, since I don’t have a puerh knife (on order though), but it was remarkably easier to just pry off a piece with a sharp butter knife than it had been getting leaves off of that tuocha before. This cake seemed more hydrated than the tuocha – it wasn’t damp or moist or anything, just a little softer. In any case, it wasn’t any trouble at all to pry a piece off the edge for drinking.
For me, this is what good puerh should taste like. When I took my first sip, I was in heaven, and I knew it would be a great session. Here are brief notes for the infusions (pictures are for infusions 1-3):
1st (30s): light, sweet, and woody, nice texture and mouthfeel, as it is very, very smooth. Slight astringency that really compliments the flavors.
2nd (20s): Much darker, very mellow, with a hint of bitterness to offset the earthy tones, but not in a bad way. Sweet smokiness.
3rd: (25s): Darker still – matches the color of my table! But it’s clear all the way through, like a light coffee. Still sweet, mellow and with more earthy than woody tones coming out now. The astringency and minor bitterness are still evident, and still appreciated.
4th (30s) and 5th (35s): Still very pleasant, very mellow and smooth, earthy, woody and makes my gums tingle a bit.
6th (40s): Slightly more bitter, with a lighter brew. Sharper, almost biting on the tongue. The sweetness is disappearing.
7th (35s): Literally bittersweet, sharp rather than mellow, and more astringent.
8th (20s): Slightly smoother than the last, but still much more bitter, and not really very enjoyable any longer.
This session really illustrated for me just how much a tea can age over the course of just a few years. I’ve been reading on the puerh group about how to boost humidity to properly age puerh in drier climates, and I think I’m going to try making myself an impromptu “tea box” for aging these teas. I’m very interested in whether or not the very young tea I had yesterday can eventually take on the more mellow, earthy flavors that this older tea has now. So we’ll see…but I really did enjoy this tea a lot, and didn’t pay a huge price for it either – it was $22.00 for the beeng.