Wednesday, May 30, 2007

2005 Chun Ya Tea Cake (Sheng), Chunming Tea Factory from Teaspring

Scent: Light and fresh, earthy, not musty or “old” at all
Brewed in: small Gaiwan
Steep times: 10s rinse, 5s, 10s, 5s, 8s, 8s, 8s, 5s, 8s, 8s
Cup: tasting cup

I was really excited about the smell and look of this tea cake. This is a quote from the Teaspring site about this tea:

The liquor of its infusion is a reminiscence of Yunnan Gold tea, delightfully sweet with malty note. While most Green Pu-erh requires at least 4 to 5 years of aging for its mellow and sweet taste to develop, this Chun Ya tea cake is prime for drinking. Truly a treat not to be missed.

So naturally, since I love Yunnan Gold & it’s supposed to be ready to drink now, I figured I’d give it a shot. And I was highly disappointed. Either something’s wrong with their description, or something’s wrong with my brewing technique, because this tea neither tasted like Yunnan Gold (not even close), nor was it mellow or sweet. I certainly wouldn’t describe it as “prime for drinking”, but someone must be getting good things out of it, since I notice it’s now sold out. I tried shorter infusion times, one longer one, and 9 infusions total before I gave up.

The 1st through the 6th infusions (1st three pictured) were all very bitter, and the tea was very astringent throughout, leaving my mouth extremely dry by the end. The first cup was very smoky, but lacking in any other flavor, and the tea was thin for most of the cups, thinner than I’d expect from a puerh. There were no hints of any kind of flavor, vegetal, earthy or otherwise, though the tea smelled wonderful throughout.

The seventh infusion was less bitter, and almost enjoyable save for the lack of any real taste. The eighth infusion was better, smoother, more mellow, and I did detect a very slight vegetal flavor in the background. The ninth was the best, very smooth and mellow, the bitterness disappeared, but it was still spectacularly astringent.

I think I need to try this tea again with filtered water. I’ve been using tap water for all of my tastings, but I’m starting to think that our water is affecting the tea negatively. Our water is odd – for many teas, I prefer tap water to brew them with over filtered, because our tap water seems to bring out a deeper flavor profile than the filtered water when I’ve tried it. That’s why I automatically used tap for my tastings this past two weeks. But perhaps the tap water just isn’t doing that for the puerh, and I should try filtered water. I think I’ll wait until my second gaiwan gets here, and do a side-by-side tasting of the same puerh with tap and filtered water. That should give me more insight into how best to brew these teas. I’ll use filtered for my next tasting as well, and see how that one goes.

In any case, this tea really wasn’t anything special this go-round, but it wasn’t *bad* either, just bitter and boring.


  1. I was wondering if you have tried a cooler temp of water. I know puerh usually is brewed with water on the boil, but I have heard it said that hotter water brings out bitterness. Migtht be worth a try.

  2. I'll consider that - thanks for the suggestion. Most of these weren't brewed with boiling water - just the first infusion or so, since I take a teapot of boiling water out to the dining room with me and place it on a teapot warmer (tealight candle). So it's not boiling after the first infusion or so, but definately quite hot (too hot to drink right away). I'll try a slightly cooler water temp next time, and see if that helps. :-)


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