Today brings the last in our series of review of various offerings by Tao Tea Leaf. A special thanks goes to them for providing these teas for our review here at Built from Ink and Tea.
This tasting begins with a deep inhale of the aroma of the dry leaves. Woody, these leaves have a fairly rich smell that promises a deep cup and hopefully some pleasant complexity. To me, shou (cooked) pu'erh is reminiscent of the forest, and drinking it is a multi-sensory experience. After I heat my teaware and rinse the leaves, I begin the first steep of thirty seconds. The aroma of this first cup carries a bit of sweetness and the earthy notes are not quite as robust as in the dry leaves. However, the flavors are wonderfully rich. The taste is deep without being too earthy, which can sometimes put people off pu'erh. It has a thick mouthfeel with a heavy finish that leaves a lasting impression on the palate. Truly, the first steeping is gone before I know it, and I steep a second for forty seconds.
I find the aroma of the second steep oddly even lighter and weaker than that of the first steep, which quite intrigues me. The color remains a dark, bright brown with great clarity. Flavors? Just as good as the first steep. This tea is mysterious! A third steep of fifty seconds results in a brew that appears lighter than the first two, smells like pu'erh-scented hot water (imagine it...not tea, scented hot water), and tastes...very, very weak. However, it might be that I did not use enough leaf or give it enough time (either of which can be used to offset the other), despite using standard amounts, so I boil more water and steep the leaves again.
After a few minutes, I have a brew with the same dark, rich color, slightly-sweet aroma, and heavy flavor as the first two. It appears that for the amount of leaf I used, larger increases in time for each steep would be useful. Overall, the steeps that produced dark, rich, not-super-earthy cups gave a lot of enjoyment and a good pu'erh tasting experience. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate this tea an 88/100.
Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Tao Tea Leaf's Imperial Pu-er Classic Tea is available from their website, here.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
Text is copyright 2014, Built from Ink and Tea.