Mini Yunnan Tuocha Mix – Brown Wrapper – from Teasenz #VeganMoFo2016

Vegan MoFo is pimping Monochrome Meals today which means we will be seeing a lot of food that is all based around ONE color so for our Vegan MoFo Tea choice today we are pushing Mini Yunnan Tuocha Mix – Brown Wrapper – from Teasenz.

This Mini Yunnan Tuocha Mix – Brown Wrapper – from Teasenz is part of the Teasenz Mini Yunnan Tuocha Mix.  If you purchase the 70 gram TIN for $10.89 you will receive 12 or 13 mini tuo cha.  I think this is a pretty fair price for 12 or 13 mini’s of which you get to try 4 of their pu-erhs!

We are specifically reviewing the Mini Yunnan Tuocha Mix – Brown Wrapper – from Teasenz in this review.  The scent of this one once wet and infused is an earthy, woodsy, wormy type.  It infuses to a dark brown.  I was pleasantly surprised that the taste on the tongue was mellower than I thought it would be based on the scent of the infusion.  It was really quite nice.  Sure it had woodsy notes but they weren’t over the top or anything I winced at.  Mini Yunnan Tuocha Mix – Brown Wrapper – from Teasenz was even a bit smooth, too!  I’m not saying this Mini Yunnan Tuocha Mix – Brown Wrapper – from Teasenz was dull or lacking in flavor at all!  It’s just more smooth than I thought it would be based on the scent!  I’m very excited about this offering!

Because Mini Yunnan Tuocha Mix – Brown Wrapper – from Teasenz is a solid brown color DRY and WET I figured it would make a nice connection to the Vegan MoFo Monochrome theme of the day, today!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Pu-erh
Where to Buy: Teasenz

Pu erh tea is an important part of the Yunnan culture. For a beginning pu erh tea explorer there is definitely a long way to go in order to fully appreciate the complexity of this type of tea. Sip and feel its richness in taste that evolves after each steep and imagine the history that is within this tea. Order today and have some of those high quality leaves that made it to our Teasenz website right in your teapot. Each and every piece is source directly from Yunnan and you will love it. Read our guide below as a roadmap for your puerh journey!

  • Brown: Start off with the flat tuocha wrapped in brown paper to experience the classic taste of pu erh tea. Note: Don’t underestimate those small tuocha teas. One piece can easily steep you several pots of tea. Instead of moving too fast from one color to the other, first strive to get as many steeps from each piece! Try to notice differences in flavor between the different steeps.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Chocolate Mini Shu Pu-er (2000) from White Two Tea

Chocolate_MiniTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy: White Two Tea

Tea Description:

The 2000 Chocolate Mini Shu Puer bricks are so named for their small shape, rather than their flavor, which is more of a fruity sweetness. Each tin contains 100 grams of tea, which brews up dark and smooth. We recommend breaking the bricks apart and giving them a rinse, as some still have very tight compression and take awhile to open up.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

These little Mini tea cakes do look a little bit like a square of chocolate!  They don’t really smell like it though.  Dry, the aroma is earthy.  The brewed liquid has a softer scent, still earthy but the aroma is not quite as strong.

To brew this, I grabbed my gaiwan!  I broke the brick off into layers with a knife – this is a very tightly compressed brick!  Using 195°F water, I did a 15 second rinse and discarded the liquid, and then I filled the gaiwan with more hot water and let it steep for 30 seconds.  Ordinarily, I would steep it for 45 seconds but after 30 seconds, the liquid was quite dark so I decided to go ahead and strain off the tea at 30 seconds.

Chocolate_Mini1And I’m glad I did!  This first infusion was perfect!

The flavor is sweet!  Just as the description above suggests, the flavor has a fruity sweetness.  I taste notes of sweet plum and even a hint of peach.  The sweetness is profound, with notes of molasses along with the sweet fruit tones.

The flavor isn’t really chocolate-y.  There are notes of earth – but they are far more subtle than the aroma of the dry leaf and even than the brewed tea might lead you to think.  It’s a gentle earthiness that evokes thoughts of mushroom.  It’s a very smooth tasting tea with no astringency or bitterness.  It has a pleasant mouthfeel.

It’s a really enjoyable pu-erh.

And of course, with a pu-erh, I’m treated to many wonderful infusions!  The second infusion I steeped for just 30 seconds as well, and it was a very deep, full taste.  Very mellow!  In later infusions, the earthy flavors developed and I started to pick up on some woodsy flavors that evoked thoughts of the damp wooded areas up here in the Pacific Northwest.

The plum and peach notes seemed to subside a little bit, or maybe I should say that the fruit flavors developed into more of a date and fig flavor with notes of dark raisin.  I liked the way these sweeter fruit flavors tasted with the notes of molasses.  It was quite an enjoyable experience.

A really nice tea with which to spend an afternoon!

Mini Pu-erh Tea Bar (50 Gr) from Teasenz

pu_erh_chocolate_bar_tea_brickTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Teasenz

Tea Description:

Made from 2012 “gift-tea grade” leaves selected by the Teasenz team and pressed into a tea bar. Easy to break and steep right away, or store and let it ripen for years. A perfect gift to surprise your favorite tea drinker.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was quite pleased by the aroma of the dry bar, because usually when I take a sniff of the dry leaf of a pu-erh, it smells very earthy, to the point where it smells … well, it smells like earth.  Like potting soil with um … well, with maybe a little bit of fertilizer mixed in.  Yeah, I’m not all that into that smell.  But, while there are some earthy notes to this dry leaf (which has been pressed into a bar shape with little squares, similar to what you might find if you were to unwrap a bar of chocolate), this doesn’t overpower my nostrils with the smell of a greenhouse during planting season.

And the brewed tea doesn’t have a heavy earthy aroma either.  Nor does it have a heavy “briny” or fishy smell.  BONUS points for that.  The aroma here is very soft, almost indistinguishable, which some might find a bit weird, but it’s much more agreeable to this tea drinker than the aforementioned potting soil.

The flavor is so nice!  It has a deep, rich, mellow flavor that is a pleasure to drink.  There are notes of cacao which is especially nice given the comparison I made to the chocolate bar a bit ago.  Absolutely no bitterness.  No astringency.  Just a smooth, well-rounded, mellow flavor.  While there are faint notes of earth here, this isn’t what I’d categorize as an earthy tea.

The flavor is very interesting because it’s quite unlike any pu-erh that I’ve tried to this point.  The notes of cacao are there, it’s a very mild dark chocolate note.  It’s almost like raw cacao, except that I taste a very subtle roast.  Like perhaps they started to roast the cacao but then changed their minds shortly after the roasting process had begun.

The cacao notes are softer than the overtone of molasses that I taste.  This tastes to me very much like molasses, with hints of mushroom.  Imagine a mushroom that has been slow-roasted to dry it out a little bit (so that it has a slight dry, leathery sort of taste to it) and then topped with raw cacao, and then topped with a heavy drizzle of molasses.

Yeah, it sort of tastes like that, only better, because that description sounds kind of weird and this just tastes unique and lovely.  I mean, if a chef put a plate in front of me with a slow-roasted, leathery mushroom that had been dusted with raw cacao and drizzled with molasses, I would think that the chef had lost his mind.  It is sweet, rich, a little leathery with a very slight earthy tone.  Overall … a really splendid tea experience!

This tea keeps going and going too.  I managed eight infusions, and I think I could have gotten even more, but I was ready to move on.  The flavors got deeper and deeper with each infusion, until about six.  The flavors pretty much began to stabilize at that point, and then wane.  My eighth infusion is where I started to notice a loss in flavor, but it was still quite flavorful.

Da Ye Xiao Qing Tuo (Big Leaf Mini Green Tuo Cha) from Seven Cups

BigLeafMiniTouChaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Seven Cups

Tea Description:

This tea has a light aroma and rich, smooth flavor with a long finish through multiple infusions. The liquid is light and clear, and the infused leaves are the color of bamboo leaves. You can feel the sweetness of the tea in your throat after a few sips. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Subscribe to Steepster Select here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m love LOVE loving this Da Ye Xiao Qing Tuo Pu-erh from Seven Cups!  It’s so remarkably sweet – one of the sweetest Pu-erh I think I’ve ever encountered.

The sweetness was strong from the very first cup, and this sweetness only developed with each subsequent infusion.  I taste a very light vegetal tone to the first cup as well, but mostly what I taste is a honeyed sweetness that is absolutely delightful.

The second cup was where I noticed the sweetness developing into a creamier note.  I could also taste the vegetal notes a little more with this cup.  The combination of the cream and the veggie notes gave it an almost “creamed spinach” type of flavor, although the vegetal notes were sweeter than spinach.

The third cup was a little less sweet and a little more vegetative.  The creamy notes were not as noticeable this time.  The flavor is more of an earthy vegetation this time.  Still very flavorful, but, I found myself missing the sweet creaminess that I experienced in cup number two and the joyful sweetness of the first cup.  This is still good, just not as delicious as the first two cups.

I decided to have one more cup to see what flavors were in store for me, and I found that with this cup, there were no creamy notes and the sweetness was not the same.  It was more of a sweet vegetative taste rather than a honeyed sweetness or a creamy sweetness of the earlier infusions.

I am sure that this Pu-erh could have gone through many more infusions, but, I think that because I so enjoyed the first two cups so much, that I found myself missing what those two cups had to offer and I couldn’t appreciate the later infusions as much.

A really nice Pu-erh, and I’m glad that I got to try it.  Another great tea offering from my Steepster Select box!

2002 Ripe/Cooked Pu-erh Mini Bing-Tea Cake from ESGreen

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  ESGreen

Tea Description:

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.

Taster’s Review:

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!