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2014 New Amerykah 2 Raw Pu-erh from White Two Tea

NewAmerykahTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  White Two Tea

Tea Description:

An old arbor Menghai blend. Thick body, lingering kuwei [pleasant bitterness], and plenty of oomph. This tea is a continuation of last year’s New Amerykah. The blend is slightly different, focusing more on sweetness and body than on bitterness.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was a little worried when I read the description to this 2014 New Amerykah 2 Raw Pu-erh from White Two Tea.  I’m not a big fan of bitterness – although sometimes I find a savory bitterness to be quite pleasant especially when it contrasts with a stronger sweetness in a tea, so I hoped that might be what I experienced with this tea.

My first infusion wasn’t as sweet as I secretly hoped for but there is a really nice balance between the savory bitter note and the sweetness.  It’s not what I’d describe as a sweet tea, this is definitely more a savory tasting tea.  But it’s pleasant and actually kind of a nice change up from some of the sweeter teas that I’ve had.

It’s very mellow and not at all earthy as I would generally expect from a pu-erh tea.  No briny taste, no fishy taste, not even a slight ‘mushroom-y’ taste.  It’s light and slightly herbaceous.  It’s a very mild taste, very pleasant to sip – so pleasant in fact, that the tea disappeared rapidly.

NewAmerykah2My second infusion has a much stronger flavor.  There is nothing mild about this cup!  But it still isn’t what I’d call earthy.  Herbaceous, yes.  There is a distinct bitter note, like a bitter grass flavor, or like what I might experience if I were to eat collard greens.

This cup is not nearly as balanced as the first cup was.  I almost feel like this could use a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar in it to help balance it out and offer some tangy notes as well as a hint of sweetness.  It tastes like it needs ‘salad dressing’, if that makes sense.  It’s not unpleasant though.  I notice that toward the end of the sip, I get some sweetness and almost like a hint of citrus in the finish and these flavors do help balance out the bitter notes.

Interestingly enough, I found that the third infusion was much more like the first than it was the second.  The flavors were stronger in the third cup than the first, but, I found that the strong bitterness had subsided somewhat and become a little smoother and balanced with the sweet notes.

It’s still primarily a savory tea (again, not a tea I’d call sweet) but there is more sweetness now to soften the savory bitter taste.  There is a dryness to this cup too, like a mineral-y dry note just after mid-sip that transcends into a slightly dry astringency.  I notice some grape-y notes here, reminding me just a little bit of a dry white wine.

Later infusions continued to become smoother and more balanced.  I think that my favorite was the fourth infusion, which seemed to me to be the perfect balance between savory and sweet without tasting ‘sweet.’  It was still a distinctly savory tea with its bitter characteristics but there was enough sweetness to soften the bitter bite and keep the taste balanced for the palate.

As I drank the sixth infusion, I felt the flavors were starting to wane somewhat so I decided to stop with this tea.  I suspect I could have still gotten at least two more (possibly more) flavorful infusions, but, I was ready to move on anyway.

What I like best about this particular pu-erh is the lack of earthiness.  No strong earthy notes in the aroma.  Not a strong earthy flavor.  I also like that with each new infusion, I discovered something new about this tea.  It captured my interest with its smooth, mellow character in the first infusion and it seemed to reinvent itself with each new infusion to keep hold of my interest.

A very different pu-erh – but different in a very good way!

Fengqing Ripened Tribute Pu-erh Cake Tea (2013) from Teavivre

Fengqing Ripened TributeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

This Ripe Pu-erh Cake Teavivre choose is from the representative Pu-erh production area Fengqing. Fengqing is the original place of the world-wide famous Dian Hong Tea. And it is also a classic place of Yunnan Pu-erh. It is a place in Lingcang which is one of the four famous Pu-erh production areas. The taste of Fengqing Pu-erh is mellow and sweet, deeper than Pu-erh in other production area. And it usually has the flowery flavor of Dian Hong Tea. The tea leaves used to make this Ripened Tribute Pu-erh Cake Tea are all pure leaves hand-picked from 50 to 100 years old Large-leaf Arbor Tea Trees.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Fengqing Ripened Tribute Pu-erh Cake Tea from Teavivre is a really lovely pu-erh.  It’s a delightfully mild tea – very smooth and sweet!

To brew this tea, I grabbed my gaiwan.  I broke pieces of the cake off into my gaiwan with a knife and eyeballed the measurement until it looked like about a bamboo scoop of tea.  Then I poured enough hot water (180°F) to cover the leaves and let it steep for 15 seconds and then I strained off the liquid and discarded it.  (The rinse!)  Then I filled the gaiwan with more water and let it steep for 45 seconds.

The aroma is a little loam-y but I’m not getting a strong earthy flavor, which I’m very happy about.  What little earthiness I taste is more like a mushroom than it is like ‘earth.’  Yay!  The flavor is sweet, like dates and honey.  I’m also getting an interesting contrast to the sweetness, it almost tastes ‘salty’ but without tasting briny or fish-like, it’s almost as if someone might have sprinkled a couple of grains of salt into my cup.

It’s a remarkably smooth tea with no indication of astringency or bitterness.   As I continue to sip, I pick up on notes of leather.

Before I knew it, that first cup was gone!

The second cup was a bit more earthy in flavor than the first, tasting a bit more like the loam notes that I smell.  Still pleasantly sweet, I notice the notes of leather starting to develop, and I’m also picking up on notes of raw bittersweet cacao.  I’m not getting any of that contrasting salt note that I noticed in the first cup.  The flavor has deepened and intensified from the first – it’s as if they’re two totally different teas!

Later infusions were less earthy, it seemed like that second cup was the earthiest of the bunch and then after that cup, the earthy notes began to wane.  I think the third and fourth cups were my favorite, the flavors were deep yet mellow with notes of dark chocolate, dates, and honey.  I picked up on a mid-note of leather with an undertone of mushroom.

A very pleasant cup … oh-so-smooth!

Glen Arbor Breakfast Tea from Whispering Pines Tea Company

GlenArborBreakfastTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Whispering Pines Tea Company

Tea Description:

Glen Arbor Breakfast is our classic, everyday breakfast blend. On those days that you just need a cuppa to get moving, this is the tea for you! This robust tea was inspired by riverside morning walks in the summertime with the perfect breeze whispering through the pines and the birds singing cheerfully. Glen Arbor Breakfast brews a smooth, sweet cup that can be taken plain or with sugar and cream, boasting a pleasant light stringency at the end of the sip and lasting aftertaste of cedar wood and malt! Second and third infusions morph into a beautiful earthy and malty cup with cooling eucalyptus notes!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was excited to try this Glen Arbor Breakfast Tea from Whispering Pines Tea Company.  I had been reading some positive tasting notes written about this tea on Steepster, and I was interested to experience the tea for myself.

And since the description above suggests several infusions with this tea, I decided to take it through it’s paces.  My first infusion proved to be a hearty, robust cup of tea.  A bit more astringent than I expected – I wouldn’t categorize this as “light” astringency, it’s more of a medium astringency in my opinion.  I do get the aftertastes of cedar and malt, and those are quite pleasant, indeed.

The flavor is rich and earthy.  There are hints of smoke to this – not a strong, smoky presence, but, enough for me to envision a walk through the woods on a crisp spring or autumn morning.

My second infusion … wow!  I am tasting those eucalyptus notes as promised in the above description.  It’s a really cool and crisp sensation, and it evokes more of those thoughts of a morning jaunt through the woods.

This tea really should be infused at least twice, I think, because I’m finding the second cup to be more rewarding than the first.  The first was good – certainly!  But the second is even better.  The body is not quite as hearty, but, what it loses in bold, bracing flavor, it gains in complexity.  The astringency is lighter here, and the taste is smoother.  I love the malty flavor and earthy tones of this cup.

This is a little different from most breakfast type teas that I’ve tried – I can definitely taste the “woodsy” influence to this cup.  While I know that the teas of Whispering Pines Tea Company are inspired by Northern Michigan, as I sip them, I feel more connected with the beautiful Pacific Northwest that I call home.  This tea has a very rugged, outdoorsy sort of taste to it.  I like it a lot!

Fengqing Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2006 from Teavivre

FengqingRawCakeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

This Raw Pu-erh Cake Teavivre choose is from the representative Pu-erh production area Fengqing.  Fengqing is the original place of the world-wide famous Dian Hong Tea.  And it is also a classic place of Yunnan Pu-erh.  It is a place in Lingcang which is one of the four famous Pu-erh production areas.  The taste of Fengqing Pu-erh is mellow and sweet, deeper than Pu-erh in other production area.  And it usually has the flowery flavor of Dian Hong Tea.

This Raw Puerh Cake is special for the two seasons resource from the same Arbor Tea Trees.  Some are picked on March which we called “Ming Qian” or “Chun Jian” leaves.  This is the best tea leaves in Spring Tea because it contains more nutrition and tastes mellow.  Some are picked on September which we called “Gu Hua” or “Paddy Flower”.  This is the best leaves for Autumn Tea because the aroma is stronger lasting longer.  The Autumn Tea (Paddy Flower Tea) also has special flower fragrance.  This Raw Puerh Cake is made by the two kinds of tea resource which were carefully blended by certain proportion.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I know I’ve never made any secret about my first disappointing experiences with pu-erh but since those early days, I have learned the way to brew the tea for the best flavor and I find that I now enjoy an afternoon now and then sipping on pu-erh tea.  And I’m really enjoying this Fengqing Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2006 from Teavivre.

The dry cake has an earthy scent to it, but I found the aroma to have more of a vegetal scent than an earthy one.  But the reverse is true for the brewed tea:  I’m finding the fragrance of the brewed liquid to smell more earthy than vegetative.

The flavor is both vegetative and earthy.  The first infusion (following a 15 second rinse) tasted light and slightly dry.  Earthy tones, yes, with hints of vegetation.  It is quite mellow with a slight brine-like taste to it … I can almost taste a hint of salt, and I think that’s where I’m getting the aforementioned dryness from.  Overall, I found my first cup to be lightly sweet and pleasant, with a mild, soothing taste.

I noticed more earthy notes begin to emerge with the second infusion, and a slight mushroom-y sort of flavor.  The brine-y note from the first cup was no longer present, however, the dryness remained (although it was significantly less noticeable in this cup).  Still mellow, the flavor deepened with this infusion, and it is still sweet and enjoyable.

With subsequent infusions, the earthy notes began to subside a little, making way for a more well-rounded flavor that I found to be both sweet and savory, with it leaning more toward the sweet than the savory.

I enjoyed the mild character of this tea.  It was soothing and relaxing to sip, and especially nice after eating something spicy (wings!) … I found that it helped calm my belly after that meal.  A very pleasing pu-erh!

2005 Lao Lin Cang Ancient Arbor Sheng Pu-erh Tea from Life in Teacup


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Life in Teacup

Tea Description:

Production Year – 2005
Season – Spring
Production Region – Yunnan
Factory – Lao Lin Cang Tea Factory
Style – Sheng

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review: 

The dry leaf aroma of this 2005 Lao Lin Cang Ancient Arbor Sheng Pu-erh Tea from Life in Teacup is a gentle, earthy scent.  Generally, I find myself kind of put off by the strong earthy notes of Pu-erh but, this is such a subtle earth scent that I’m not finding it off-putting at all, and the sweet tones are very intriguing.

I steeped this the way I would typically steep a Pu-erh – in my gaiwan.  I steeped the first infusion for 45 seconds (following a quick 15 second rinse), and the flavor was earthy and sweet, with a woodsy note to it that is sweet.  There are hints of a fruit-like note to this as well.  It’s a mellow tea with a pleasant sweetness.  There is also a cleansing astringency to this that I don’t usually find in a pu-erh.

The second (1 minute) infusion delivered a flavor that is less earthy and more sweet.  The woodsy note has developed and I am tasting more of the fruit taste now too.  The finish is sweet and the aftertaste is clean.

The next two infusions, I noticed that the earthy tones began to develop, and these tones meld together with the fruit and woodsy notes, and are softened by the sweetness.  Subsequent infusions, some of the earthiness begins to taper, and I find a nice balance of fruit and sweet wood tones.

Overall, a pleasant Sheng – mellow and relaxing.  The sweetness of this one keeps me sipping!