Cup of Tea and a Blog

Welcome to my spot for musing about all things tea. Here you'll read reviews of quality teas, click through comments on tea rooms and shops I've visited, and see photos of leaves and cups. You’ll also find things I might talk about over a cup of tea, like philosophy, literature, current events, or fun ways to pass the time.

Location: Pacific Northwest, United States

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22 April 2005

First Puerh

I have just brewed my first Puerh (other than a nasty cheap bagged tea experience years ago that doesn’t really count). After all of my raving about golden yunnan teas, it seemed logical to make the progression from yunnan to puerh (a fermented tea that is also from the Yunnan province).

The brand/type of the puerh I tried is unknown. This was given to me after a visit to a fellow tealover’s home; she found out I had no real experience with puerh and handed me 5 small paper-wrapped balls of the fermented tea. Here’s a photo:

click photo to see larger, more detailed image

Although it is not one of their teas, I mostly followed the instructions from Hou de Fin Asian Arts. They had one of the more thorough web pages I could find, and I respect the owner’s knowledge and the quality of the tea (see comments below for a review I wrote of a 12-year aged oolong).

Brewed with tap water. Steamed small cake just for a minute, then gently broke apart (but into chunks more than leaves). I brewed the tea in a small Chatsford for only about 90 seconds, but the color was quite dark so I decided to remove the leaves.

Nothing objectionable, but this isn’t knocking my socks off like a golden yunnan does. I found the odor a bit . . . disconcerting. However, the flavor itself doesn’t bother me, just seems a bit flat. I may need to experiment with water temperature and steeping time, as well as finding other web sites and checking the Teamail Archives.

2 minutes later: As the tea cools in my cup, the range of flavors is becoming more distinct. It’s quite earthy, in a dark clay way. I’m not sure what about this reminds me of banana peels, but there is a vague memory that is kicking in. Maybe it’s a musky odor that I associate with bananas peels that have been sitting in the sun? Or perhaps it’s the the way that any vegetation smells after baking in the sun on a summer afternoon? It’s that sort of warm and musky scent.

My overall reaction to this tea: interesting. I’m intrigued enough to try it again, perhaps brewed a bit differently. I’ll definitely be watching Teamail for discussions and recommendations and giving puerhs a try at various shops. If it starts to strike more of a chord with me, then I’ll start purchasing more appropriate pots and cups that may affect the puerh tea experience.



Blogger Cindy W. said...

I originally posted this to the Teamail E-list on Febuary 22, 2005. The one tasting note I would add is that I know perceive a definite flavor of toasted coconut.

12-year aged Oolong, Hou De Fine Tea

This is my first time trying such an aged oolong, and I fear my description is not up to the quality of this tea. It really provided a wonderfully unique taste experience, and hopefully I can convey some of the characteristics for all of you.

I’ve sipped the aged oolong on two occasions now, both times prepared in my Gaiwan cup. With each rebrewing, different flavors came through; this is a complex and unique tea. It is also an expensive one, intended for special occasions. That is probably how I will treat this tea in the future – ordered for special occasions or when I really
could use an extra special treat. Last night I had a cup of the tea while munching on some decadently dark chocolate that a friend brought by, and the roasted tea with the roasted chocolate was a heady
experience. Many thanks to the generous Hou de Fine Tea for sending the free samples for teamailers.

My tasting notes are below,


12-year aged Oolong, Hou De Fine Tea

Rinsed, then brewed for 1 minute. Water temp apprx. 195 (maybe a bit lower was better, as the water cooled I appreciated the tea more)

Color: a deep red tone, almost mahogany

Taste: darker, deeper, not smoky but quite “toasty” – a more roasted flavor than I had expected (but then, I really had no idea what to expect). There is another sweeter flavor that comes through behind the roasted tones, but I can’t quite place it. I suppose it’s more floral than fruity, but in a subtle way. It reminds me of the hint of clover and blackberry flower tones in the honey I buy at a local farmer’s market (not the honey flavor itself, but that taste behind it).

Second brewing, 2 minutes: I’m finding that I actually like this more as the water cools a bit. The second brewing was just as toasty in taste and aroma, but the floral taste mellowed.

Third brewing, 3 minutes: Still holding up – the color is still a light red-brown, and the toasty flavor is quite prominent. With the third rebrewing, I really started to ponder the “musty” notes to the
tea. This is not a bad thing, but an intriguing one. It reminds me of lovely hours spent in second-hand bookstores and university archives
(yup, I love old books). Now, the tea does NOT taste like old books, but there is a definite musty-aged sensation that is quite pleasant.

Out of curiosity, I left the used leaves in water overnight. The leaves are quite durable, almost elastic or rubbery in texture. I
wanted to see if they would unfurl and soften after soaking for a while nope, not at all. They hold up to water in an amazing way. Oh, and the water was reddish-brown, still with the roasted aroma. Very

2:35 PM  

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