Friday, June 1, 2007

Golden Puerh (loose, unknown age) from Art of Tea

Scent: Like warm raisin bread, fruity and smooth
Brewed in: small gaiwan, 6 infusions with tap water
Steeped: (near boiling overall) 10s rinse, 5s, 8s, 8s, 10s, 10s, 10s
Cup: small tasting cup

I said I’d revisit this tea for puerh week, so I thought I’d end with it. I’m assuming it’s shu, as the Art of Tea site gives no date for aging, and only says that it’s “lightly aged to perfection”. The leaves truly are “golden” though – not dark at all as one would expect from a cooked puerh, and the liquor doesn’t even hint at red – it’s golden as well. At $14 for 2oz (which is over double what their vintage ’97 loose puerh costs), it’s a fairly pricy tea to buy, especially since there are no samples available.

I enjoyed it before, more so than other loose puerhs, but detected a sour note to it. This time, with a little more tasting experience under my belt (so to speak), I’ve decided that it’s more a tartness than a sourness in most cases.

The first infusion (pictured) was flush with a very strong “boiled raisin” taste – like you’d get in a good oatmeal cookie. There is that tart aftertaste that goes well with the almost sugar-sweet finish. The smell is strong and earthy like a normal puerh, but the taste is definitely more “baked goods”. An enigma, I guess.

The second and third infusions reminded me more of tart cherry pie than raisins, and were cooling on the tongue. There is no astringency whatsoever, and always that earthy note is in the background.

The fourth infusion was actually much lighter than the rest, with fewer flavors as well. I was worried that it was starting to give out already. But the fifth infusion was the best of all – strong, average astringency, earthy, woody, and imparted a warm feeling throughout while still leaving the tongue somewhat cool. Odd, but not in a bad way.

The sixth infusion was weak, flavorless, and just plain boring. I gave up after that.

So basically, it’s a very complex tea that changes with each infusion, though it doesn’t seem to hold out for very long. The wet leaves are very dark, with that woody smell typical of cooked puerh. The brew never even approaches red in color – it’s always a nice round golden color, and the cooked fruit tastes are interesting and enjoyable when they come out. I’d definitely recommend trying some, just for the experience. It’s a very interesting tea, to say the least.

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