Leaf Type: Pu-erh
Where to Buy: White Two Tea
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.
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.
My 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!