Chocolate Mini Shu Pu-er (2000) from White Two Tea

Chocolate_MiniTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy: White Two Tea

Tea Description:

The 2000 Chocolate Mini Shu Puer bricks are so named for their small shape, rather than their flavor, which is more of a fruity sweetness. Each tin contains 100 grams of tea, which brews up dark and smooth. We recommend breaking the bricks apart and giving them a rinse, as some still have very tight compression and take awhile to open up.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

These little Mini tea cakes do look a little bit like a square of chocolate!  They don’t really smell like it though.  Dry, the aroma is earthy.  The brewed liquid has a softer scent, still earthy but the aroma is not quite as strong.

To brew this, I grabbed my gaiwan!  I broke the brick off into layers with a knife – this is a very tightly compressed brick!  Using 195°F water, I did a 15 second rinse and discarded the liquid, and then I filled the gaiwan with more hot water and let it steep for 30 seconds.  Ordinarily, I would steep it for 45 seconds but after 30 seconds, the liquid was quite dark so I decided to go ahead and strain off the tea at 30 seconds.

Chocolate_Mini1And I’m glad I did!  This first infusion was perfect!

The flavor is sweet!  Just as the description above suggests, the flavor has a fruity sweetness.  I taste notes of sweet plum and even a hint of peach.  The sweetness is profound, with notes of molasses along with the sweet fruit tones.

The flavor isn’t really chocolate-y.  There are notes of earth – but they are far more subtle than the aroma of the dry leaf and even than the brewed tea might lead you to think.  It’s a gentle earthiness that evokes thoughts of mushroom.  It’s a very smooth tasting tea with no astringency or bitterness.  It has a pleasant mouthfeel.

It’s a really enjoyable pu-erh.

And of course, with a pu-erh, I’m treated to many wonderful infusions!  The second infusion I steeped for just 30 seconds as well, and it was a very deep, full taste.  Very mellow!  In later infusions, the earthy flavors developed and I started to pick up on some woodsy flavors that evoked thoughts of the damp wooded areas up here in the Pacific Northwest.

The plum and peach notes seemed to subside a little bit, or maybe I should say that the fruit flavors developed into more of a date and fig flavor with notes of dark raisin.  I liked the way these sweeter fruit flavors tasted with the notes of molasses.  It was quite an enjoyable experience.

A really nice tea with which to spend an afternoon!

Mini Pu-erh Tea Bar (50 Gr) from Teasenz

pu_erh_chocolate_bar_tea_brickTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Teasenz

Tea Description:

Made from 2012 “gift-tea grade” leaves selected by the Teasenz team and pressed into a tea bar. Easy to break and steep right away, or store and let it ripen for years. A perfect gift to surprise your favorite tea drinker.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was quite pleased by the aroma of the dry bar, because usually when I take a sniff of the dry leaf of a pu-erh, it smells very earthy, to the point where it smells … well, it smells like earth.  Like potting soil with um … well, with maybe a little bit of fertilizer mixed in.  Yeah, I’m not all that into that smell.  But, while there are some earthy notes to this dry leaf (which has been pressed into a bar shape with little squares, similar to what you might find if you were to unwrap a bar of chocolate), this doesn’t overpower my nostrils with the smell of a greenhouse during planting season.

And the brewed tea doesn’t have a heavy earthy aroma either.  Nor does it have a heavy “briny” or fishy smell.  BONUS points for that.  The aroma here is very soft, almost indistinguishable, which some might find a bit weird, but it’s much more agreeable to this tea drinker than the aforementioned potting soil.

The flavor is so nice!  It has a deep, rich, mellow flavor that is a pleasure to drink.  There are notes of cacao which is especially nice given the comparison I made to the chocolate bar a bit ago.  Absolutely no bitterness.  No astringency.  Just a smooth, well-rounded, mellow flavor.  While there are faint notes of earth here, this isn’t what I’d categorize as an earthy tea.

The flavor is very interesting because it’s quite unlike any pu-erh that I’ve tried to this point.  The notes of cacao are there, it’s a very mild dark chocolate note.  It’s almost like raw cacao, except that I taste a very subtle roast.  Like perhaps they started to roast the cacao but then changed their minds shortly after the roasting process had begun.

The cacao notes are softer than the overtone of molasses that I taste.  This tastes to me very much like molasses, with hints of mushroom.  Imagine a mushroom that has been slow-roasted to dry it out a little bit (so that it has a slight dry, leathery sort of taste to it) and then topped with raw cacao, and then topped with a heavy drizzle of molasses.

Yeah, it sort of tastes like that, only better, because that description sounds kind of weird and this just tastes unique and lovely.  I mean, if a chef put a plate in front of me with a slow-roasted, leathery mushroom that had been dusted with raw cacao and drizzled with molasses, I would think that the chef had lost his mind.  It is sweet, rich, a little leathery with a very slight earthy tone.  Overall … a really splendid tea experience!

This tea keeps going and going too.  I managed eight infusions, and I think I could have gotten even more, but I was ready to move on.  The flavors got deeper and deeper with each infusion, until about six.  The flavors pretty much began to stabilize at that point, and then wane.  My eighth infusion is where I started to notice a loss in flavor, but it was still quite flavorful.

Fengqing Zhuan Cha Raw Puerh Brick Tea 2005 from Teavivre

Fengqing Zhuan Cha Raw PuerhTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

The Fengqing Zhuan Cha Ripened Puerh Brick Tea 2005 is small but has full weight of 240g. The brick is in the size of 13.5 cm long, 9 cm wide and 1.5 cm high, which makes the tea easy to store. Brick tea is a kind of compressed pu-erh tea. This Raw Pu-erh Brick Tea has yellow and bright liquid, stronger flavor than ripened brick with strong astringent taste. Yet the bitter taste differs from other teas’. A strong sweet aftertaste comes after the liquid fills in your mouth, as well as the long-lasting mellow flavor promoting the secretion of saliva. The sweet aftertaste still remains even half a minute later. This Raw Pu-erh Brick is picked in 2005’s spring and summer, and pressed in the same year. Aged Pu-erh Brick teas will become more profound after years of store. It is regarded as an eatable antique in China.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Although I’m not always enthusiastic to try a pu-erh, after having tried a good number of pu-erh teas from Teavivre without disappointment, I found myself actually looking forward to trying this 2005 Fengqing Zhuan Cha Raw Puerh Brick Tea.

After a quick rinse (15 seconds), I infused my first cup for just 45 seconds and achieved a very strong, deep flavor with notes of mineral and a somewhat salty/savory note.  The description above suggests “promoting the secretion of saliva” and that’s what I’m experiencing from this tea.  The salty note from the tea encourages my mouth to begin watering.

This is earthy but not in the same way that a ripened pu-erh would taste.  This is more earthy/vegetative sort of taste.  I note hints of kelp.  By mid-cup, I start to notice some bitter/tart notes that brighten the overall flavor.

I steeped this tea eight times before I was ready to move on to something else – but I do suspect that this tea would have kept going strong for at least two or more infusions!  With each infusion, I noticed a deeper flavor than with the previous cup.  The flavor keeps developing.

I’ve often used the word mellow to describe a pu-erh but I don’t think that word applies to this tea.  The savory/bitter notes are very unique to me.  I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to pu-erh, in fact, I think of myself as just the opposite.  Pu-erh is the tea that I feel least knowledgeable about, and with each new experience, I feel as though I’m learning something new and after each experience, I feel as though I’ve so much more to learn!

That said, I can’t recall a tea quite like this one before.  It has a brine-like flavor to it … but not a fishy-brine taste.  The brine here reminds me more of a vinegar-ish type of taste, the savory/bitter/salty notes you might experience from vinegar.  The earthy notes here are very mushroom-y.

A very intriguing tea!

2002 Raw Pu-erh Tea Brick (Ke Yi Xing) from ES Green

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  ES Green

Tea Description:

The Region of Harvest: Yunnan Province, China
Plant Type: Yunnan Big Leaf Bush
Tea Factory: Xi Shuang Ban Na-Yiwu-Key Yi Xing  Tea Factory
Brand: Ke Yi Xing

About the brand “Ke Yi Xing” .  It is one of the time-honored brands in Yun Nan. It is built in 1925.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The picture appears so much greener than the leaves look to me, I had to double check to make sure that this is indeed the tea I’m tasting.

But, the flavors match the way ES Green describes the tea:

It tastes earthy, old, strong. But it is living, vivid, fresh. You will find it smooth and mellow on the first sip.

This is what I taste from this tea.  I taste the earthiness (I did do two pre-rinses though, to ensure that it would not be too earthy), and I even taste the strength and the age.  I also taste a wild note to this … like a vibrant, green tea that is hiding in the distance.  It hides behind the earthy overtures and the caramel-y undertones, but every once in a while, the vibrant, green … almost lushly fresh tasting green tones emerge just to remind me that they’re there.

A remarkably smooth and mellow tea, and very deep in flavor.  With each subsequent infusion, the flavor became deeper and sweeter!  Much of the earthiness softened by the fourth infusion.  It was still somewhat earthy, but not as earthy as the first few cups.  I found that the tea started to taste lighter and more vibrant and fresh with each subsequent infusion, which seemed to give me a gentle nudge to steep it yet again to see how the flavors would be with the next cup.

This is not one of those teas that you want to rush … you want to sit back, and spend an hour or two just exploring the many layers of flavor that it holds in store.