Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Rishi Tea's Pu-erh Classic Tea

Today's tea for review struck a bit of an odd chord with me. I quite enjoy pu'erh; it is my favorite variety of tea. But when a tea company suggests using 1 tablespoon of tea per 8 ounces of water for brewing that is not gong fu-style...I have to wonder as to why?

Rishi Tea's Ancient Pu-erh Classic came with these exact instructions for brewing:
Water Temperature: 212°F (boiling)
Leaf to Water Ratio: 1 tablespoon per 8 ounces
Steep Time: 5 minutes (1st infusion), 6 minutes (2nd infusion)
These were the instructions from the side of the tea container. Now, thankfully, on their website, they also have instructions for using a gaiwan to brew, and those instructions seem more in line with traditional pu'erh brewing. That is not to say that pu'erh has to be brewed in a gaiwan (versus Western-style with an infuser, less leaf, more water, and more time), but the issue I take with their brewing instructions is the use of so much leaf for Western-style brewing. Of course, with that much tea being used, the drinker will certainly be able to get a second infusion, but a good quality pu'erh should be able to withstand multiple infusions, regardless.

For my tasting, I used a 12 ounce mug, which per their instructions would require 1.5 tablespoons of tea (4.5 teaspoons). I rounded down to 4, but I did steep for the recommended 5 minutes for the first infusion. The result? A dark, dark brew that looks thick - a familiar sight to me of heavily-steeped pu'erh.

I neglected to mention that, while my tea steeped, I took a moment to smell the dry leaf. It reminded me of a young shou pu'erh with a bit of natural sweetness that suggests a lack of age. The same aroma was represented in the cup, once prepared.

Having finished the long steep, I tasted the finished brew. The flavors were definitely the rich, earthy tones of a ripe pu'erh, but they also tasted young and thin. These aspects were not unpleasant, but Rishi's Pu-erh Classic does not provide top quality leaf. But the price was not high either, so as an introduction to pu'erh, this offering might be ideal.

However, contemplating the accessibility of pu'erh to new drinkers, I think that there are a lot of other young shou pu'erh options with which to start. And those can be found at similar or better price points. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate Rishi Tea's Pu-erh Classic a 3.

Note: On their website, Rishi has an "Ancient Pu-erh Classic" but does not have just a "Pu-erh Classic" listed. The tin I purchased made no mention of "Ancient," so the link to purchase, below, leads to Amazon. Given the price difference between the "Ancient Pu-erh Classic" on Rishi's website and the tin on Amazon, I am under the impression that these are different teas.

Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Rishi Tea's Pu-erh Classic is available from Amazon, here.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
You can read more about my Personal Enjoyment Scale, here.
Text is copyright 2016, Built from Ink and Tea.

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