Leaf Type: Pu-erh
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
The Peacock Village is unique in its perfectly light and clean body. It does not weigh down the palate with earthiness. Rather, it sparkles in its crisp sweetness. The very large leaves used are similar to the old tea tree leaf material in the Xingyang 1998. The first steepings yield a crystalline orange tea with tea oils swirling on top. The sweetness is like rock sugar and white grapes. After the preliminary steepings, the tea starts to unfold in darker buckwheat flavor and honey. Unexpectedly, there is something in the texture and aftertaste of dried oregano. As the tea steeps out, the grape-like fruit taste becomes dark elderberry, and the aftertaste is tinged with the warm spice of Thai ginger and peppercorns.
Learn more about this tea here.
This tea made me a little nervous at the start. While the dry leaf aroma doesn’t possess a strong earthy scent, the liquor does smell rather earthy. And it is that earthiness that often puts me off when it comes to Pu-erh. But Verdant has not let me down yet, so I relied on my past experiences and took a sip.
Yes! Fortunately, the earthiness is not as strong in the taste. The first sip starts out with a fairly moderate earthy tone which quickly dissipates into a clean, sweet flavor. With each subsequent sip, I notice less of the earthy note, and more of that sweetness. It’s really quite lovely.
I brewed this Gongfu style as directed on the Verdant Tea website, except that I steeped the first infusion 30 seconds and added 15 seconds with each subsequent infusion. What I am drinking now is the results of the first two infusions (following two quick rinses). The taste is remarkably light for a Pu-erh, which tends to be somewhat heavy. Once the earthy notes subside, the flavor is sweet and crisp … almost like a honey that has been thinned with sparkling white grape juice.
The third and fourth infusions render a tea that has almost no earthy note to speak of. There is just a hint of earthiness somewhere in there, but, it’s back in background, and so easy to miss with the other lovely flavors in the cup. It has a warmth to it as if it had been slightly spiced. The spiced tones develop later in the sip, toward the finish, and the aftertaste imparts a tingly taste on the tongue as if I had just eaten something with fresh peppercorn. Not hot or spicy, mind you, but, just a hint of pepper. I taste lovely fruit notes throughout: the grape-y notes that I mentioned earlier are still there, and I taste something else too … pear perhaps? A very interesting tea, this Shu from Peacock Village, and I am eager to try the next two infusions.
My fifth and sixth infusions are even sweeter, reminding me a bit of the rock sugar candy that I used to love as a child (and if the flavor of this tea is any indicator, I still quite like that rock sugar candy!) The earthiness is gone. There is a dry sensation toward the finish and into the aftertaste … but it isn’t astringency. It almost feels powdery, like dry cocoa but it doesn’t taste chocolate-y, instead it tastes like warm spice. It is a curious sort of sensation, but not at all unpleasant. I’m quite enjoying the mysteries that I experience as I sip this tea.
For those who have thought that Pu-erh is not to your liking, I think you should give this Shu a try. It is quite remarkable, and unlike any Pu-erh I’ve yet to taste.