2016 Loose Leaf Gu Hua Sheng from Verdant Tea. . . . .

I ordered a giant basket of pure teas from Verdant because I was trying to be more worldly. I was like “I am going to UNDERSTAND this tea. I am going to BECOME ONE with MORE VARIETIES.”

Today’s pick: a pu’erh! That’s fermented tea. Sort of intimidating. All the pu’erh I’ve ever loved has been in a blend. The only other one I’d tried before this was sort of appalling, so I was nervous to try this one. (I only ordered a tiny sample, just in case).

This one, 2016 Loose Leaf Gu Hua Sheng, tastes a little bit like a toasty sencha green tea mixed with yam or some other starchy vegetable. The description for this product on their site describes this flavor as “plantain.” I think I can pick up a sliver of banana-ish taste, but I’m not really familiar with plantains

I’m mostly into blacks and sweet teas, but I enjoy this cup. It’s different from what I typically drink, in an exciting and not-intimidating way. I think that this is a good introduction to pu’erh for a n00b like myself.

This is also a tea that one could feel good about purchasing. According to Verdant, proceeds from this go to books and operating costs for the sleepaway Zhenyuan Jiujia Wengang Village Primary School. The Collective that grows this tea is the “stewart” to the “truly wild” 100-300-year-old tea trees “that grow in one of the oldest and most remote tea forests in the world, on Mt. Ailao.”

They use traditional methods. And they look really happy about it.

If you’d like to try one of the Collective’s teas, here they are

I feel nice about it and I hope you do, too!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
Description

Master Zhou’s Gu Hua harvest is a careful blend of maocha from trees aged between one hundred and three hundred years old, picked for a balanced and rich full body and aroma. Gu Hua is the very early autumn harvest prized for its rich flavor and intense aroma. These truly wild trees grow in one of the oldest and most remote tea forests in the world, on Mt. Ailao. Every leaf is hand picked and carefully sun-dried without applying heat or using machinery for the most natural and pure flavor.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Pu-Erh Gourmand from Dammann Freres. . . . .

I’m always surprised when I make a puerh tea.. I don’t drink it often, but when I look down into my cup, the tea is incredibly dark and mysterious. Lovely! The scent of this tea is sweet… vanilla cookies, perhaps? Maybe a bit of dry wood. There is only a tiny bit of that fishy scent that I detect in puerhs. Phew!

Sipping… the flavor is very much like the scent. The puerh base is smooth and not fishy. I also don’t taste much of the wood that I smelled earlier. I really like whatever sweetness this cup is offering. The vanilla and caramel are the strongest notes, but there is also something biscuity.. I also taste a tiny bit of spice.. maybe it’s just the finish of the puerh, but it reminds me a little bit of a spice cookie. What I like is that this tea isn’t overly sweet, but that it’s just sweet enough to take care of any dessert cravings.

If you enjoy puerh teas, this is a great desserty choice. If you’re just branching out into puerh teas, this is also a great pick because it’s not overly fishy or woodsy. Yum!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Puerh
Where to Buy:  Dammann Freres
Description

The warm and woody notes of Pu-Erh tea combined with a cocktail of sweet aromas: biscuit, vanilla, sweet almond and a hint of heliotrope.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Forest Song 2016 Sheng Puerh Maocha from Global Tea Hut

My inner (and outer) hippie absolutely adores Forest Song 2016 Sheng Puerh Maocha from Global Tea Hut for many reasons!

To start things off – just LOOK at the name…Forest Song…I mean…how could you go wrong? Forest Song 2016 Sheng Puerh Maocha from Global Tea Hut was part of their August 2016 celebration. Well, I call it Global Tea Hut’s monthly Tea Celebration because – to me – that’s what it is!

The way Global Tea Hut works is…Farmers contribute tea…You receive an envelope with love every month…Drink tea with people around the world…and Your subscriptions support our free tea center!

Teas from Global Tea Hut are like YOGA in a cup! If you are looking for an puerh to help settle you, to help you meditate, relax, or focus, or if you are looking to open your mind as well as your heart to the beauty around you…Forest Song 2016 Sheng Puerh Maocha from Global Tea Hut may just be for you!

This is a tea I have HIGH respect for because it seems to draw everything in…all the positivity, nature, beauty, and GOOD in the world. It hails from the Big Snow Mountain, Yunnan Region, at 1800 meters which seems like it’s from another world and by its natural aroma and taste I can also make that out-of-this-world connectio

This may be one of my favorite tasting mellower puerhs to date! It has an earthy taste to it but more like a greener-earth oolong than your stereotypical dirt-Earth pu-erh. This tea continues to amaze. What a special experience!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:
Where to Buy: Global Tea Hut

Mini Yunnan Toucha Mix from Teasenz – Reflection on Scent and Memory

I am far from an expert, but I’ve always been both intimidated and entranced by pu erh tea.  The tea comes packed in cakes and wrapped in decorative papers, and you might even have a tea pick especially for breaking up these tightly packed leaves. There’s a proper way to brew and taste pu erh, and all kinds of special teapots and accessories.  There’s something inherently magical about having the right tools for an ancient ritual.  With the Mini Yunnan Toucha mix sampler from Teasenz, I could give the whole thing a try at my kitchen table.

I’ve brewed enough bad cups of pu erh tea to know that it’s worth following the instructions.  For this sampler I used the following process for each: 20 second awakening rinse (pour off the liquid), 5-10 second brews following.  I only did three brews for each tea, though a good pu erh session would have many more.  I only used a small piece of each tea cake for my taste-test– I would not recommend throwing the whole thing in your teapot, no matter how small and cute the tea cake is.

For instructions I found helpful, I recommend Teasenz advice on using this sampler and White2Tea’s guide on on brewing pu erh at home.

I’m going to use the same naming convention that Teasenz used on its website, referring to the teas by the color ink on their wrappings.

First up was the brown wrapper tea.  This smelled like what I typically associate with pu erh: wet hay, earth, and old leather.  If you’re new to pu erh, these flavors may take a little getting used to.  Feel free to shorten your steep times to as little as 1 to 3 seconds if anything gets too intense.  This tea very much smelled like the outdoors after the rain, with notes of wet mulch and damp leaves.  I mention all these wet adjectives because there was definitely a sense of age or plant decay in the smell and taste.

The mouthfeel of pu erh is worth noticing, known for being exceedingly smooth, some might even describe it as creamy.  Black teas can be bitter or have a strong astringent bite, but no such sensation was present in the brown wrapper tea.  By the second and third steep, I continued to notice wet garden flavors, with more mineral tones like mushroom or beets or kale, especially on the aftertaste.  The wet hay fragrance remained throughout, coming on the strongest when first brewed and dissipating slightly as the tea cooled.

Next was the red wrapper tea, in a cube shape.  This tea felt similar to the brown wrapper, with notes of wet earth and grass.  However there was a bit of brightness in the red tea that wasn’t present in the brown, maybe citrus or orange, a touch of something tart. The second steep had more of this brightness, like lemongrass, along with the typical pu erh wet hay flavors.  By the third steep, the citrus verged to more of a bright pine note.  If the brown wrapper tea was a deciduous woods full of wet, autumn leaves, then this red wrapper tea was a damp, evergreen forest with crushed hemlock needles and pine resin.

After the brown and red teas, the blue wrapper tea was quite a departure.  As soon as I rinsed the leaves, I was hit with a striking popcorn scent.  According to Teasnez, this “sticky rice” flavor is a staple of certain pu erh teas.  My boyfriend was walking by the room at this point and said it smelled like Fritos corn chips!  As for the taste, this tea still had the expected wet grass notes, but the brew was more savory, like a soup broth.  The plant-like flavors were a little different than the brown and red tea cakes, this time tasting more like corn or celery.  As I tried more steeps with this tea, the sticky rice note became more mellow, and the damp earth and corn husk flavors were more prevalent, smelling more like an autumn cornfield maze.

Finally we get to the yellow wrapped tea.  This is a different type of pu erh tea entirely.  The brown, red, and blue wrapper teas were all pu erh shou tea.  The yellow wrapped tea is a pu ehr sheng.  Shou tea is fermented prior to packaging, while sheng teas are packaged “raw” and age in the package over time. This yellow wrapped sheng tea occupied a flavor profile somewhere between the wet earth flavors of the brown wrapper tea, and the toasty rice notes of the blue wrapper tea.  The yellow wrapper tea had flavors like starchy baked bread and old paper alongside the damp grass tones. This tea had the most variation between steeps, the second steep having flavors that reminded me of black licorice or roasted nuts, and the third steep brightening up to more of a celery and sweetgrass blend.

Personally, I find the smells and tastes of pu ehr tea to be memory-inducing, reminding me of playing and exploring as a kid.  The scents of damp paper or old leather are akin to going into an undisturbed attic, and the damp earth scents make me think about playing in neighbors’ barns or crawling under the porch for hide-and-seek, while the wet leaves flavors make me think of walking in the woods after the rain.  The flavors of these aged tea leaves provide me with a strong sense of nostalgia and history.

Or maybe I’m just waxing poetic here, and I’ve just brewed one too many cups of tea for one afternoon. Either way, I highly recommend this sampler as a great way to experiment with pu ehr tea and its traditions.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Pu erh
Where to Buy: Teasenz

teasenzlogoDescription:

If you are new to pu erh tea and have yet to discover the different types of aromas it offers, then this mini tuocha tea mix is the right place to start. Reap the weight loss benefits of this pu erh while enjoying the diverse mix of flavors that ensure you will never get bored.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Mini Yunnan Tuocha Tea – Blue Label from Teasenz

Recently I experimented with Mini Yunnan Tuocha Tea – Blue Label – from Teasenz. Here are a few of my findings and personal tasting notes on each infusion.

Infusion 1: Mini Yunnan Tuocha Tea – Blue Label – from Teasenz infused to a darker brown and had a slight gloomy texture to it as well. The whiff was like a warmer autumn day…sunshine, leaves, dirt, dry wood, and a bit of malt. The flavor was a wink of dry wood, a whisper of malt, with a slight sign of cooked rice, and even inkling of soy sauce muted. I found this to be pretty fantastic and much to my linking!

Infusion 2: Again Mini Yunnan Tuocha Tea – Blue Label – from Teasenz infused to a darker brown this time even darker than the 1st as I’m sure you can imagine. This time not as gloomy and with more of a reddish hue added. The aroma was more defined with a more enhanced sticky rice (altho the aroma wasn’t over-the-top) and a crusty pairing of nose on it this time around. The taste was well-rounded, smoother that I anticipated, and even savory. I didn’t think I would like the 2nd infusion of Mini Yunnan Tuocha Tea – Blue Label – from Teasenz more than the first – but you know what – I did! I think it was because of the savory notes that came thru more this time around! YUM! Another GREAT Pu-erh from Teasenz.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Pu-erh
Where to Buy: Teasenz
teasenzlogoDescription

If you are new to pu erh tea and have yet to discover the different types of aromas it offers, then this mini tuocha tea mix is the right place to start. Reap the weight loss benefits of this pu erh while enjoying the diverse mix of flavors that ensure you will never get bored.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!