I wanted to start by thanking Yunwei tea for the opportunity to try all of these amazing teas! They offer a tea "flight" which is a box of 7 of their best teas you can try all at once.
The tea flight only costs $20 and is a very good deal considering you can try 7 of the best teas from China in one shot! Make sure you know how to brew before trying them out though!
In this review, we are going to do things a little bit differently. I am attempting to brew the tea "gongfu style" which means lots of leaves, very little water and very short steep times. I will try to get at least 5 brewings out of each of these teas, but I may stop if I can no longer get flavor out of the tea. the first 3 steepings will be about 10 seconds and then I will add 5 seconds there on out. This is a very fun way to brew tea, and if you haven't tried it yet I would really reccomend it. It lets you appreciate each layer of the tea at a time, instead of all at once. This is a good way to pick up on all the subtle complexities of the tea, and have a truly enriching tea tasting experience. Anyways, let's get started!
This will be the first pu-erh I have reviewed on my blog. In China, what we call “black tea” is actually called “red tea” and when they say “black tea” they actually are referring to “pu-erh”. This is a special tea grade that is even more fermented than our black tea, and it doesn’t really exist elsewhere. The leaves are commonly pressed into a cake and then left to ferment for years, in some cases decades and very rarely, centuries. To drink the tea, you use a special type of pick to take tiny little pieces off and steep them for many brewings. That is what we are going to attempt here.
Dry leaves: sweet yet earthy. Almost like spring flowers. The aroma isn’t quite as strong as I would’ve imagined. The tea leaves do appear to have been a part of a cake at some point, as many of them are still stuck together.
First steep: smoky and earthy. Reminds me of a stir fry or something. Overall it is quite flat and has that subtle “basement taste” you might associate with a puerh.
The wet leaves are beginning to come alive! They have a strong smoky aroma that is balanced out by the smooth floral aroma of the leaves.
The second steeping has more of a full bodied flavor to it. There is still this delicate “stir fry” taste to it that I can’t quite put my finger on. We’ll just call it stir fry for now.
The leaves are beginning to take on the aroma of wet wood. I can really pick up on some sourness, even in the smell. You can tell that the next few steepings are sure to have some astringent notes to them.
With the smokiness settling aside slightly, I am beginning to notice some astringent notes. These are light and pleasant and they make my mouth water for a few seconds after the sip. This tastes a little bit like some of the oolongs I’ve had in the past, but with a little bit of smokiness thrown into the aftertaste.
As the leaves are beginning to unfurl, I notice that for the most part they are larger and unbroken. It’s really cool to see that even though this tea has been aged for quite some time, after it’s been steeped it pretty much looks the same as tea normally does.
The fourth steeping tastes more like a white tea to me. Subtle bitterness, light astringency, but still a pretty full-bodied flavor. The fourth steeping is really where I feel like I’m starting to feel the effects of this tea. I’m starting to feel warmer and more full of energy.
The leaves still carry the smell of wet wood and the smoky aroma is becoming more and more distant with each steeping.
I know this is going to sound crazy, but the fifth steeping is beginning to taste a little bit like a Chinese gunpowder. The third tasted like oolong, the fourth tasted like a white tea and this one tastes like a green tea. Just goes to show you how complex this tea is.
The wet leaves haven’t change much at this point. They are completely opened up, and you can begin to see how the teas were harvested. The stem was pick 2-3 leaves down and then the whole thing was used in the production process. So cool!
The sixth steeping doesn’t taste like much, but you still do get a nice astringency and a few light notes to it that are quite enjoyable.
The leaves haven’t moved much since the last steeping and they are just beginning to lose their flavor now. I think this seventh steeping will be my last so I put it in for a full minute. I know that’s crazy but I wanted to make sure I got everything out of these leaves.
In the seventh steeping, I’m starting to notice some fruitiness in the tea. There is still a nice astringency to round it all out. Overall, this is one of the better brews!
I really liked this method of brewing, and I hope you all did too! I have plenty more teas to review in the future so stay tuned!