Leaf Type: Pu-erh
Where to Buy: ESGreen
This mini tea cake was made by high-level material made from broad-leaved wild tea trees. Traditional court recipe.
The vintage year is 2002, which is over 10 year now.
Learn more about this pu-erh here.
As I’ve mentioned (more than once!), I’ve had a very difficult relationship with Pu-erh. It started off really bad … and I think it is those bad memories that taint my experiences with Pu-erh even now. And really, I don’t think it was the fault of the Pu-erh back then… it was my lack of knowledge. I didn’t know how to brew a Pu-erh properly, and I ended up with a very earthy dark tea that made me think I was drinking a very thin mud rather than tea. It wasn’t pleasant.
But that was then, and this is now!
And I have learned quite a bit since then, I have learned better ways of brewing tea. I have come to embrace the gaiwan as not a “gadget” but an essential tool for tea making. I love my gaiwan, because I have not only rediscovered the joy of Oolong but have also learned there is much joy to be discovered even with a tea I once disliked: Pu-erh!
It’s the earthiness that was off-putting. And when brewed improperly, a Pu-erh can be overwhelmingly earthy, so much so that it is really REALLY off-putting. But when brewed correctly, a Pu-erh can be so delightfully complex while maintaining a mellow character that is really quite enjoyable.
This Pu-erh is indeed earthy – but the strongest earthy tones are experienced in its aroma, when the tea is in its dry cake form. After a quick rinse and a 30 second infusion, I smell and taste only a very delicate earthiness, which is layered with an intense sweetness that is like caramel. It is very smooth.
I’ve often heard Pu-erh compared to a “fishy” taste but I don’t taste that here. There is a slight mushroom-y/earthy flavor to it, but not at all fishy. The sweetness is what I taste most, it is very mellow and remarkably smooth. It’s a really excellent value, too, because I got six very flavorful infusions from one mini tea cake, and I think it would have given many more!
This is one of those Pu-erh teas that I’d recommend to someone who has had bad luck with Pu-erh in the past … this is a good one and certainly worthy of a try. You might just find this one to your liking!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Ovation Teas
Blend of Assam and Ceylon loose leaf black teas with bing cherries, sliced almonds, and coconut pieces with cherry, almond, and coconut flavoring.
Learn more about this tea here.
I’ve had this tea twice now, and interestingly enough, the flavor was a little different each time. The first time I tried it, the coconut came out strong from the very first sip. The cherry was there, but, it sort of lingered in the background. The almond was the most subtle flavor of the three.
One thing that remained consistent with both cups is that the tea was the prominent flavor of both cups. I was happily surprised by this, because a tea with so many flavors could have easily been overwhelmed by them. The flavor of the tea is rich and a little malty, with hints of earth and even a sweet biscuit kind of quality to it.
I found the cherry flavor to be a stronger flavor in this second cup. It is a sweet cherry flavor, reminding me of my summers as a child when my family and I would take a days drive down to Cherry Valley in California. We’d spend the day picking cherries off the tree, and then bringing them home to enjoy. Over the course of the next few weeks, our days would be filled with cherry goodness, eating cherries by the bowlful, and having cherry cobbler for dessert. (By the way, try freezing Bing cherries … they’re so yummy and refreshing, one of my favorite treats as a kid!) I love how this tea tastes so distinctly like Bing Cherry that it brings those memories to life for me.
By the time I’ve consumed about half of this second cup of tea, the almond and coconut begin to assert themselves, although never in a very aggressive way. The coconut is smooth and creamy note to the cup that might otherwise taste TOO cherry which might end up giving it too much of a cough medicine-y taste. But the coconut brings it back into the dessert tea realm.
Of the three flavors (and in both cups!), I find the almond to be the most subtle, providing more of a delicious, nutty hint of sweetness to the cup rather than a distinct almond flavor. But, I love the way the three flavors come together – cherry, coconut and almond – it is creamy, sweet, and juicy, and absolutely YUMMY!
I really love this tea, and I enjoy how it offers a different adventure every time you brew it!