I have mixed feelings about pu'erh packed into tuocha. On one hand, it is incredibly convenient to transport pu'erh in this manner, but on the other, why is it necessary to transport pre-measured cakes of pu'erh? In general, I find them to be of a lesser quality pu'erh than what one might find otherwise. The convenience or lack thereof makes for an interesting discussion, but we shall set that aside for the sake of this review.
Tuocha properly refers to tea compressed into large bowl or bird's nest-shaped cakes. These Ancient Pu-er cakes by Tao Tea Leaf are more properly mini tuocha. The first rinse of the leaves, to awaken them, releases rich aromas, and I do not anticipate disappointment with this tea. Interestingly, the instructions provided by Tao Tea Leaf direct the drinker to let the tea steep for thirty seconds the first time, followed by ten seconds for the second steep. For each subsequent steep, add five seconds. Normally, my pu'erh steeps are thirty seconds for the first, increasing by ten seconds for each following, but I go ahead and follow the provided directions.
The taste of the first steep differs from the aromas rising from the tea. In the aromas were very earthy, wet notes. Meanwhile, the flavors on my tongue were lighter - floral even. I would not go so far as to say they were sweet, but the difference surprised me. My next surprise came, when I steeped the tea for a second time for the recommended ten seconds...and it was just as dark as the first steep with just as much flavor, if not more. The body of the tea has a rich flavor, somewhat earthy with a slight cocoa note. The edges and aftertaste follow with the lightly floral notes.
A third steep of fifteen seconds follows. The tea brews its darkest cup thus far. All of the flavors are balanced, and the aroma matches the taste quite well. With the fourth steep of twenty seconds, I find that the tea has begun to weaken. The color is lighter, and the flavors, while still rich, are much weaker than before. Having enjoyed the four steeps, I decide to stop here.
This Ancient Pu-er produced smooth cups with good flavor and a pleasant aroma. While many tuocha are not of excellent quality, I found this one to be quite tasty and an enjoyable cuppa (or four). For anyone seeking a shou pu'erh tuocha, look no farther than Tao Tea Leaf's Ancient Pu-er, which should certain satisfy. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate it an 86/100.
Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Tao Tea Leaf's Ancient Pu-er Tuo-Cha is available from their website, here.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
Text is copyright 2014, Built from Ink and Tea.