I have a lot more experience with shu puerh than with sheng, but I want to rectify that. What better place to start than with this gorgeous dragon pearl from Crimson Lotus Tea?
This is a really large pearl, but I was not prepared for just how much leaf there is here! Crimson Lotus had a great video telling how to best steep these. Thirty second rinse with boiling water to open it up, pour off the rinse and let it rest for about five minutes. This is great thing to do with any puerh, by the way, not just a tight pearl like this.
Now you can do another thirty second steep and drink it or pour it away, your choice. If the aroma doesn’t appeal to you at this point, don’t worry about pouring it away because believe me, you are going to be here steeping and drinking for a long, long time.
Now that you are on the third steep, shorten your steep to about ten seconds because the leaves are now saturated and the pearl has opened. My gaiwan is full! The leaves are whole, soft, and a beautiful green.
The tea is rich and thick, and has lots of energy going down. The color is surprisingly dark for a youngish sheng, a really deep golden/amber color. The flavor is as rich as the color and stays that way for more than ten steeps, maybe fifteen or twenty. I lost count and have no idea how many steeps I ended up making. For this reason, I am buying a pace counter (ranger beads or range counter) to keep track of future steeping sessions with sheng puerh teas.
This felt like a favorite hoppy beer on the way down, really refreshing and kept me reaching for more. The best part for me was the amazing rising sweetness that persisted.
Honestly I think the tea could have kept going for ages more, and I am thankful that halfway through I was joined by another tea drinker because it just kept giving and I couldn’t hold anymore. The color never lessened, the flavor never got weak. I am really kicking myself for not saving those leaves but it was an outdoor, early spring gong fu session and I couldn’t manage it.
More Crimson Lotus sheng is definitely going on my shopping list.
Want to Know More About This Tea?
Leaf Type: Puerh
Where to Buy: Crimson Lotus Tea
“A world of flavor in the palm of your hand!” This is a new planet in our Yunniverse.
Don’t let their small size fool you. These tiny spheres of puerh are made from Kunlu Shan small arbor tree tree material. They were picked and processed in Spring of 2017 and were pressed in the Summer of 2017.
Each of these hand made ‘planets’ weighs around 8 grams. These are called ‘long zhu’ (龙珠) in Chinese; this means ‘dragon balls’. They are hand wrapped and ready to brew. These work great with any style of brewing. You can toss one in a gaiwan or clay teapot. They work great grandpa style, or in an on the go thermos. They are tightly compressed so we give them a nice long initial wash to help them open up. The first steep is longer than normal until the leaves open up.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
photo credit: crimson lotus tea
I broke a lot of rules today. Some of them were my rules. Some of them were tea rules. But everything came out okay!
The first rule I broke was – no tea on an empty stomach. This is my rule. I have a sensitive stomach, a dodgy esophagus, and I can get heartburn looking at a bowl of chili. I wasn’t hungry and I wanted tea, so RULE DISREGARDED.
The second rule I broke was – rinse puerh leaves and discard the rinse water. I confess I break this rule a lot. Sometimes I am glad, sometimes not. This time – oh yeh, glad. That first steep was delish. I kept it oh so short and sweet. Golden color, scent of menthol, smooth, and sweet.
Steep two – didn’t time it! Another broken rule! This is golden and rich in color and LIVELY on the tongue. So much energy in this tea! Like a precocious but adorable pre-teen that you love spending time with but who maybe wears you out a little in big doses.
Steep three – ah, you are a nice tea with a bite of thin cinnamon cookie. Still golden. Still lively.
Steep four – with lunch now. A bit mellower and lovely with food. Hay, white tea-ish but with a vibrant energy. Bright and raw. Go to their website to learn in depth about each tea they carry!
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Puerh
Where to Buy: Wymm Tea
This sheng pu-erh brews a bright golden liquor. It has notes of cut hay and earth in its aroma, complimented with a bold almond, buttery flavour.
We were lucky enough to obtain some of these huangpian which give insights into the highly sought after Bingdao Laozhai sheng pu-erh. Bingdao Laozhai is a place renowned in the Yunnan tea industry. Situated at 1400-2000 meters mountaintops, it is the one and only high altitude village occupied by Dai minority group in the Mengku town region. The price of pu-erh from this village would go into the thousands due to the extremely limited supply. Please visit our Bingdao Laozhai pu-erh blog post to learn more about it.
These huangpian are picked from the same trees as the Bingdao Laozhai, the only difference being that it is less aesthetically pleasing; the bigger leaves (huangpian) are filtered out so that the remaining leaves are neat and symmetrical when pressed into cakes. These bigger leaves are often kept by the tea farmers for personal consumption and are rarely found in the market. Even though the huangpian do not have the tidy appearance of its counterparts, it possesses similar taste characteristics and are sometimes considered more flavourful as the leaves spent longer period of time growing on the trees.