Leaf Type: Pu’er
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
A perfectly integrated blend with Yanxin’s Reserve ’04 pu’er, elderberry and spice that spans the whole flavor spectrum. . . .
We love pu’er for its multi-dimensional complexity. One of the most interesting and often overlooked elements of the pu’er experience is the vaguely numbing and tingling sensation that fine pu’er leaves in the aftertaste. Our goal with this blend was to highlight this textural quality of great shu pu’er, while at the same time creating a warming, rich and perfectly integrated taste experience.
We start with the incredible Yanxin’s Reserve ’04 Shu Nuggets. This tea is known for its pastry-like dessert flavors, and its smooth sweet aftertaste. We build on that richness with one of our favorite ingredients to pair with shu pu’er, dried elderberries. The dark sweetness of the elderberries brings out the natural berry qualities of the pu’er itself, and lingers on the sides of the tongue.
Next we draw out the pastry sweetness of the pu’er with a touch of licorice root, which helps highlight and blend the sweet spice of ginger root. Ginger starts to emphasize the tingling texture of this fine pu’er, but on its own, it doesn’t push quite far enough. That is why we added a touch of Sichuan peppercorn to round out this tea and make it whole. Sichuan peppercorn has a uniquely numbing flavor that elevates this blend to a new level. Taken as a whole, no one flavor stands out above the others. They work together smoothly to emphasize everything warm and satisfying that we love about shu pu’er.
Learn more about this tea here.
Verdant once again impresses with a blend that is masterfully created. I hesitated to order a sample of this because I do not like licorice, not even a little. However I love elderberry, love pu’er, and throughly enjoy anything with any kind of pepper in the blend. I had never heard of sichuan pepper so I was intrigued. Also it is getting cool in my area of the world, and anything that sounds remotely like chai is on my mind.
Also I know that often when tea is blended masterfully, as Verdant always does, some of the ingredients we often would shy away from do not come across on the palate as they would in their straight from. So I took a risk, although I knew it was a small one, that I may not enjoy this tea, and got the sample anyway. I could not be more pleased that I did!
As with any pu’er you get multiple flavorful steepings and this truly is a tea to sit down and take your time with.
What I love most about this tea is the leathery aspect. It is reminiscent of a historical library with old leather bound books in abundance. The elderberry is so present with a tart yet sweet existence that sneaks out now and then delighting the tongue with its ripe sweet flavor. The mouthfeel is creamy and thick. The pepper gives the perfect amount of “bite” without hiding the other flavors beneath it. Of course the pu’er allows for a sweetness of its own and that trademark earthiness that I love so much. There is a marked presence of ginger so if you are not one who enjoys a ginger flavor this may be the one thing that would dissuade you from trying this tea. However I have had many teas with ginger as a flavor element and none, so far, have been up to par with the quality of this ginger.
The ginger does not overwhelm the cup but rather says “yes I am here” politely with each sip. So perfectly blended is this cup that it is easy to pick out each element, forgetting the others, for a while, but then they meld together perfectly in a balanced unifying harmony. So the individual ingredients are the melody, the balance of the blend itself is the harmony, with the chorus being the huge smile on my face after every sip. Nowhere did I taste licorice as an individual component however perhaps I did not want to. Perhaps it is just as the tea description says: “Next we draw out the pastry sweetness of the pu’er with a touch of licorice root, which helps highlight and blend the sweet spice of ginger root.” Perhaps this is in fact why I feel that ginger does not overwhelm. When a master blender is given the same ingredients as a not so experienced blender the end result can be quite different. So licorice does not take on a single note of its own but rather tames the ginger from being too strong of an element. That is exactly what I get in my own tasting of this tea.
I no longer partake in drinking alcohol however I would compare this tea to a fine liquor such as a single malt scotch, or a fine brandy perhaps. I can envision myself sitting in a Victorian library, on a chaise lounge, curled up with a great book, bound in leather of course, (the book, not me), and a cup of this elegant tea.