Today's review comprises a very traditional Chinese tea brewed in what is, for me, a very non-traditional manner. As with pu'erh in general, I would normally steep this Fengqing Ancient Tree Raw Pu'erh Cake, using a gaiwan with very short steeps that used quite a bit of leaf. However, the brew guide on the outside of the package suggests to brew for three to ten minutes using just-boiled water.
While the water reaches a boil in the kettle, I open the package of tea and inhale the aroma of the leaves. In a word, they smell sweet. The sweetness is natural, like a fruit might smell sweet. A very sharp edge underlines the aroma, not quite bitter, but a definite change from the sweetness. This is something I have found to be common throughout many raw pu'erh.
The leaves from the compressed cake expand and unfurl as they steep, spreading out nicely. The infusion itself is about two teaspoons of leaf in twelve ounces of just-boiled water. When the timer rings to signify the four minutes, the resulting brew is golden, bright, and very clear. Aromas, much stronger than in the dry leaf, waft from the cup to reach the nose. They hold an underlying sweetness with the body now being quite bold.
"Bold" would be such a simple term, if I used it to describe the flavors that are experienced through this cup. Yet, sometimes simple terms can be just what is required. A more complex description might suggest that the flavor of this raw pu'erh reminds the drinker of a panther - strong and bold, yet exuding a smooth silkiness. The body of the taste has quite a few aspects, including smoky notes, some vegetal flavors, and the minor bitterness that was detected in the smell of the leaves. Recall the sweetness that permeated the aroma? It is quite noticeable it the flavor, settling-in for the long-term, as it dominates the aftertaste.
Overall, this Fengqing Ancient Tree Raw Pu'erh Cake from Teavivre was a smooth and delicious re-entry for me to the world of raw pu'erh. This is one I would recommend to those, who love raw pu'erh and to those who have no experience with this style of tea. I look forward to brewing it with a gaiwan and discovering more of its complexities. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate this tea a 91/100.
Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Teavivre's Fengqing Ancient Tree Raw Pu'erh Cake 2014 is available from their website, here.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
Text is copyright 2014, Built from Ink and Tea.