I’m not usually a pu erh tea drinker but I saw the lovely label from Kelly Puissegur on the Yiwu Spring 2016 blend from Bitterleaf Teas and had to give it a go. This is a limited run of tea, so you won’t be able to get this exact blend anymore, but the same tea harvest for 2017 can be found in the year of the rooster blend.
This tea starts off like many of my past pu erh tea sessions. The scents are intense and fermented, and off-putting to me as a prelude for something I’m about to taste. The aroma isn’t bad exactly, in fact with smells like old books or leather or wet grass, I find the flavors to be nostalgic and dreamy; they just aren’t something I’d personally want to smell right before I take a sip.
I steeped this tea over the course of a session, brewing several times. Before I even tasted it, I stepped for 1 minute in 200F water to rinse and let the leaves open up. After that I steeped for increasing 5 second intervals.
The first brew had the typical hay barn scent I expect, but less fermented and much more fresh. Almost like green grapes or wet peony flowers. The brightness in the first steep was a pleasant surprise.
In the second steep there was more white tea buttery earthiness, but still the green grapes and peony came through on the aftertaste. The tea is very smooth on the tongue.
In the third steep the hay scent was more gentle and the overall flavors were more relaxed. The brew was sweeter almost like cacao earth tones and smooth honey floral flavors, paired with a very pleasant caramelly mouthfeel.
On the fourth steep and beyond, the tea still holds up the fresh grape and peony tones, but eventually the earthy cacao flavors end up taking over.
I’m not a pu erh expect but this tea took me by surprise and contained pleasantly complex flavors that I wasn’t expecting. Be bold and try one of Bitterleaf Teas’ pu erh harvests for your next brew.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Pu erh
Where to Buy: Bitter Leaf Teas
This Yiwu raw puer is one of our two Year of the Monkey puers. The material for this tea comes from a recently transitioned fang yang (literally meaning “left to grow”) garden that receives minimal human interference, to the extent that all weeding is done once a year by hand (taking up to one month) and is harvested only in the Spring. The tea itself has an initial and surprising honey-like sweetness at the front, which yields to some slight roughness and unique lasting aroma. With good cha qi/tea energy and a solid mineral fragrance that lingers, this is a strong candidate for storage.
Typical of Yiwu teas, this one is on the softer side of things for now, but still maintains a solid backbone with plenty to offer. This also makes it a very drinkable young raw puer, and well suited for beginners and experienced drinkers alike. Don’t be fooled though, Yiwu teas tend to age well, even if they seem lighter in their early years.