Limited Yiwu Spring 2016 from Bitterleaf Teas

I’m not usually a pu erh tea drinker but I saw the lovely label from Kelly Puissegur on the Yiwu Spring 2016 blend from Bitterleaf Teas and had to give it a go.  This is a limited run of tea, so you won’t be able to get this exact blend anymore, but the same tea harvest for 2017 can be found in the year of the rooster blend.

This tea starts off like many of my past pu erh tea sessions.  The scents are intense and fermented, and off-putting to me as a prelude for something I’m about to taste.  The aroma isn’t bad exactly, in fact with smells like old books or leather or wet grass, I find the flavors to be nostalgic and dreamy; they just aren’t something I’d personally want to smell right before I take a sip.

I steeped this tea over the course of a session, brewing several times.  Before I even tasted it, I stepped for 1 minute in 200F water to rinse and let the leaves open up.  After that I steeped for increasing 5 second intervals.

The first brew had the typical hay barn scent I expect, but less fermented and much more fresh.  Almost like green grapes or wet peony flowers. The brightness in the first steep was a pleasant surprise.

In the second steep there was more white tea buttery earthiness, but still the green grapes and peony came through on the aftertaste.  The tea is very smooth on the tongue.

In the third steep the hay scent was more gentle and the overall flavors were more relaxed.  The brew was sweeter almost like cacao earth tones and smooth honey floral flavors, paired with a very pleasant caramelly mouthfeel.

On the fourth steep and beyond, the tea still holds up the fresh grape and peony tones, but eventually the earthy cacao flavors end up taking over.

I’m not a pu erh expect but this tea took me by surprise and contained pleasantly complex flavors that I wasn’t expecting.  Be bold and try one of Bitterleaf Teas’ pu erh harvests for your next brew.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Pu erh
Where to Buy: Bitter Leaf Teas
Description:

This Yiwu raw puer is one of our two Year of the Monkey puers. The material for this tea comes from a recently transitioned fang yang (literally meaning “left to grow”) garden that receives minimal human interference, to the extent that all weeding is done once a year by hand (taking up to one month) and is harvested only in the Spring. The tea itself has an initial and surprising honey-like sweetness at the front, which yields to some slight roughness and unique lasting aroma. With good cha qi/tea energy and a solid mineral fragrance that lingers, this is a strong candidate for storage.

Typical of Yiwu teas, this one is on the softer side of things for now, but still maintains a solid backbone with plenty to offer. This also makes it a very drinkable young raw puer, and well suited for beginners and experienced drinkers alike. Don’t be fooled though, Yiwu teas tend to age well, even if they seem lighter in their early years.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Chocolate PuErh from Numi Organic Teas

Numi’s Chocolate Pu-erh bags are the perfect intro to flavored Puerh: organic yet inexpensive, and bagged for easy travel. In fact it was the very first tea I pulled from my very first sampler, an inexpensive add-on in my amazon cart. This is also sold loose leaf by the pound.

I have to admit I was skeptical because not only did I dislike chocolate, but I also had heard “fishy” things about the fermented tea. But as a scientist, I had to test these assumptions, and the evidence supported the null hypothesis. This was a light bodied, full flavor tea, that I’ve found is impossible to screw up in the brewing process.

This silky brown infusion reminds me of a hot cocoa with toasted marshmallows fresh from the campfire, and ooooooh that tiniest hint of that nutmeg. Alton Brown would be proud.  As a final touch of perfection, cue a chef’s kiss, no sweetener was needed!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Flavored Pu-Erh
Where to Buy: Numi Tea

This velvety infusion combines black Pu∙erh tea and organic cocoa. Accented by whole vanilla beans and sweet orange peel, this decadent blend is rounded off with nutmeg and cinnamon for a spicy finish.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Puerh from Pinky Out. . .

The further I delve into the world of tea the more I am astounded by its depth. Behind every tea, every brand, dear I say even every leaf, lies a story.While on a recent cruise I read The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane. This book is not only well written but also truly enlightening on tea. More specifically though on Pu Er; which of course is what this tea is.

Complex is understatement. And Pu Er is only a sub category of Dark tea! I have to admit I wasn’t really a fan of pu er but perhaps that is only because I tasted a fake or something to the same accord. Though I don’t mind this one. I honestly do not smell anything from the dry leaves. One who has looked at plenty of leaves can tell this is different then black tea but the differences between ripe, aged, raw are something I … have no idea. There is a mild smell in the wet leaves. Something I can’t quite define, something of the earth. The liquid is quite a bit darker then I was expecting. Some say it tastes like dirt but then I wonder what type of dirt these people are chewing on. It has a bit of a heavier body in my opinion complete with some unique earthy flavors.

Part of me wonders where this one was harvested. The general public would say, “China of course!” But those who love tea know there is more to it then that.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Pu Erh
Where to Buy: Pinky Out
Description

Pu-erh is said to have originated during the Eastern Han Dynasty in the Yunnan Province.

Pu-erh was traded heavily along what was known as “The Ancient Tea Route” or “Tea Horse Road”. Around a thousand years ago Yunnan, one of the first tea producing regions traded Pu-Erh along the route. The tea traveled a long road by horse, mule, and even person. Pu-Erh made an excellent tea for this sort of travel, as it did not spoil easily during the long trips. In fact it was found that Pu-Erh actually improved with time boasting yet another advantage for the Yunnanese.

Sourced from China no matter how far our Pu-Erh has to travel before it makes it to your cup, you can be sure it will still boast the same authentic flavor and health benefits sought after during the time of The Ancient Tea Route.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Rainy Day Pu’erh from Plum Deluxe. . . . .

This pu’erh chai blend is recommended by Plum Deluxe to counter “literally a rainy day or just some emotional dark clouds.”

I really like the phrase “emotional dark clouds.” Plum Deluxe has this cute, holistic, meditative quality to their writing. They take into consideration the human response and culture surrounding tea.

And what might be the solution to such a dark day? A corresponding dark tea. Something strong enough to withstand a battle. If this were Lord of the Rings, maybe a sturdy dwarf warrior with a raven-colored beard would do.

When I steeped this, the leaves’ darkness whooshed into the water immediately, settling onto an amber that descended into brown over the next few moments.

The resulting flavor is very earthy and rich, with little spice notes, and a sweetness that’s a bit reminiscent of molasses. It’s strong, and it’s just what you need to blaze forth into your day with a little more fire.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Puerh
Where to Buy:  Plum Deluxe
Description

Whether it’s literally a rainy day or just some emotional dark clouds, our sweet-n-spicy puerh blend is just what you need for a comfort kick.

We use a rich, earthy puerh as the base, add in the cinnamon bark, ginger, and other spices, then pair them with a sweet cinnamon oil reminiscent of brown sugar. It brings sweetness while keeping it balanced — just what a rainy day calls for!

 

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Chocolate Earth from Story of My Tea. . . . .

I travel a lot to Texas with my kiddo, so when I saw a Houston-based tea company, I knew I had to learn more. This Kickstarter-founded company, called Story of my Tea, recently offered two of their new Hello! pre-measured iced teas for free (just pay S&H) ….. an iced teaser, if you will 😉

I’m familiar with cold brewing tea bags, but what really got me about this company was the awesome variety of blends. I chose Rhubarb Oolong and Chocolate Earth (a puerh and white tea blend) as my free samples.

First off, their packaging is really clever. The back of the sealed foil packet has clear steeping instructions for both hot and cold steeping (has anyone noticed a taste difference between these styles?). Then there’s a QR code you can just scan which shows you much, much more about using each blend with food pairings.

Inside is an enormous 5×3(ish) inch unbleached bag of cocoa-scented leaves. I can’t see clearly the percentage mix of white and fermented tea (or other flavorings).

I noticed that the wet puerh leaves didn’t expand and fill the satchel the way the oolong bag did after brewing, but I was still grateful for that extra room because 1) I am relieved there’s enough room for the leaves to expand and release all their flavor and 2) this ENORMOUS bag means I can now brew four big cups at a time instead of just one!

My first infusion was copper and the second, longer steep became a mahogany color, exactly the same colors as an aging penny. The liquor smelled of a molassesy s’more.

Sipping it… well, you know how silk invites you to run your hand along the cool, soft fabric? Chocolate Earth feels exactly like that in your mouth. Buttery smooth, it excites first as cocoa and moves to all taste buds, then lingers sweetly for just a moment with a vanilla bourbon.

I have an affirmation board near my tea cupboard that literally reminds me “I HAVE ENOUGH TEA” , but somehow it did not deter me from this purchase Ha.  It also has a list of what teas I want to buy when my cupboard stops overflowing. Anyhow, on the list was Numi’s chocolate Puerh, (which I discovered in my first Zen Tea Bar box and absolutely loved), But now that line has been replaced with Story of My tea’s Hello! Chocolate Earth – – it’s THAT awesome.


 

Here’s the scoop!

Tea Type:  Puerh

Where to Buy:  Story of My Tea

Description:

This tea has the milky and caramel notes of the white tea, is extremely smooth and very aromatic. Is great iced as a dessert or after a summer BBQ.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!