Leaf Type: Pu-erh
Where to Buy: Mandala Tea
The material we chose is grade one leaf picked in 2006 and ripened in 2007. The raw material is from the most remote area in Lincang and is far from cities, roads. This makes for a very pure tea with no worries about pollution from cities.
Learn more about this tea here.
Confession time: I have been putting off trying this 2011 Phatty Cake Pu-erh from Mandala Tea for a long time. Why? Because it’s pu-erh. It’s all about that seemingly ingrained attitude toward pu-erh.
Fortunately, since it IS pu-erh, a little aging isn’t going to hurt it and may actually prove to be beneficial.
Since it’s a rainy night and I wanted something mellow and contemplative to sip on a night like tonight, I figured it was the right time to finally try some of this Phatty Cake! I pried some of the material off of the cake – just enough to be about a bamboo scoop of tea leaves – and put it into the bowl of my gaiwan. Then I heated my kettle to 190°F and did a 15 second rinse before infusing the leaves for 30 seconds.
I didn’t take this for the usual 45 second infusion because by the time we reached 30 seconds, the tea was quite dark.
This first infusion is quite nice. Mellow. Deep and smooth. No astringency. A sweet, caramel-y flavor with notes of earth. The earthiness reminds me of mushroom and tobacco. Now, I’v never actually tasted tobacco, but my father had a pipe at one time and the taste of this tea evokes thoughts of the aroma I remember from the pipe tobacco. As I continue to sip, I pick up on a raisin-y quality and the sugary sweetness that goes along with the dried fruit.
My second infusion (30 second infusion) tastes a bit earthier than the first. Definitely a stronger tobacco note. Toward the finish, I’m picking up on a slight mineral-y note. I am still getting that deep sweetness – but it’s more of a dry fruit sweetness than a caramel-y note this time. I’m not getting much caramel this time around, and I miss it.
Later infusions mellowed out a little bit on the earthiness – and I was grateful for that. I found the second cup to be a little too earthy for my liking and without the lovely caramel-y notes to accompany those earthy tones, it was a bit of a disappointment. But my third infusion (another 30 second infusion!) had a lighter earthy note and it was sweeter with notes of molasses. Quite nice!
I found that I liked this tea better with each infusion after the third infusion. As I’ve already said, the second was a bit too earthy for me, but after that, I was experiencing some really delightful sweetness from this tea. I also noticed that as those earthy flavors lightened up a little, I was able to explore some wonderful flavors, including a hint of mint! That was a pleasant surprise!
Mandala Tea doesn’t have their Phatty Cake in Cake form, but it is currently available as a loose tea. Mandala is a top-notch company, I recommend them highly!