Leaf Type: Pu-erh
Where to Buy: Butiki Teas
Our Organic Ancient Phoenix Puerh originates from a sustainable farm on Wuliang Mountain in China and is handpicked by the Yi tribe of Yunnan. This Shou (ripe) puerh was harvested in 2011 from organic ancient trees. The tea is pressed into cakes using only skilled hands and a unique fragrant wood. Organic Ancient Phoenix Puerh is smooth and rich with raw cocoa, oak, and sweet tobacco notes. This high quality tea can handle a substantial amount of infusions.
Read more about this tea on Steepster.
A few weeks ago, Butiki Teas announced on Steepster that it was closing permanently very soon. I was very sad about this announcement because Butiki Teas is one of my favorite purveyors. So, I started sorting through my stash to see if I had any teas on hand from Butiki that I had not yet reviewed so that I could offer a goodbye to one of my favorite tea companies here on SororiTea Sisters – and this is the tea that I found. So, yeah, this tea is no longer available from Butiki Teas, but this review is less about the tea for me and more about offering a heartfelt farewell to a wonderful tea company.
And this Ancient Phoenix Pu-erh is absolutely lovely. It doesn’t surprise me, because I can’t say that I’ve had anything from Butiki that I wasn’t impressed with! (Which is why I’m sad to see them go!)
These tiny Pu-erh cakes are about the size (in diameter) of a quarter although they’re a bit thicker than a coin. It makes portioning rather simple, I just dropped one of the “coins” into my gaiwan and covered it with hot water (190°F) for 15 seconds to awaken the leaves. Then I strained and discarded the liquid. I poured the water over the coin – which is already starting to break apart – and infused it for a minute. Then I poured the tea into my teacup and enjoyed. Pu-erh offers multiple infusions and this was just the first of many cups that I’d enjoy this evening.
My first cup is sweet. It’s almost a sugary sweetness. There are notes of earth to the cup as well, but the sweetness is stronger than the earthy qualities. (I like that in a pu-erh!) It’s a very soft tasting tea, this first cup. Much softer than I’m used to from a pu-erh. There are light spice notes.
The second cup was also steeped for 1 minute. Usually, I add 15 seconds onto the steep time but that wasn’t needed here. This has a much deeper flavor. Some of the earthy notes have emerged now. I’m still getting those spice notes I mentioned with the first cup, as well as the sweetness. I taste notes of leather and cacao and wood. This is a very complex cup. Very smooth. No astringency. No bitterness.
The third cup – well, the third cup and I didn’t really agree. I steeped it for a full minute again and I found it to be a little reminiscent of a thick cup of coffee. Not a good coffee either. Kind of like a tar-like coffee you might find in one of those 24-hour truck stop diners that don’t get a lot of traffic so the coffee’s been sitting there for the last six or seven hours. I found it interesting that at least one of the tasters of this tea on Steepster experienced a less than favorable third infusion as well. Weird.
So, I tossed that cup and went for infusion #4. This time, rather than setting a timer, I just watched the color and when the color was dark I poured it. I would estimate that the fourth infusion was about 20 seconds. Much better than infusion #3, this is earthy, kind of mushroom-y, with notes of leather and cacao. I am picking up an undertone of molasses-like sweetness. A very smooth, mellow and deeply flavored cup.
I kept on steeping. I found that by the fifth cup, this had become a very pleasant tea. This is a tea that you can’t really set a timer – you just need to watch it. When the color becomes dark, it’s time to pour and enjoy. Sweet with notes of spice. Cacao! The earthy notes are starting to become less prominent and allowing the sweeter characteristics to come forward.
As I sip this tea, I raise my cup to the greatness that is Butiki Teas. I recommend to all of you – if you haven’t yet tried any of this company’s teas, shop now before you lose that opportunity. I will miss you, Butiki Teas!