This tea came in a free unsolicited package of samples from Stephane of Teamasters’ Blog. I did something I rarely do and, on a whim, in my office I sampled this tea blindly without even looking at the label or knowing anything about it except that it was puerh and it came from Stephane. It was the first of a handful of samples that he kindly sent. What I discovered pleasantly surprised me…
Dry leaves smell of significant humid storage without being full out traditional wet storage. This tea has a robust woody pine like odour which is somewhat resinous. The storage, to me, is right on, not off at all- very humid clean dry stored puerh.
The first infusion a nice aged puerh depth is immediately apparent with a slight peach initial taste with nice dry wood like taste dominating the profile. There is a mild returning coolness in a deeper aged woody broth. The mouthfeel has a subtle dryness to it as does the top throat.
The second infusion starts with a nice almost buttery wood taste. The middle taste is woody with slight aged dirt and decomposing leaf taste. The aftertaste is mildly cooling wood. There is a slight woody stickiness that is left in the mouth afterward. This is classic woody sheng puerh is stored in a manner that is so familiar with me.
Third infusion is much the same but more round- still 90% woody aged dirt tastes maybe 10% buttery edge to the initial taste. The mouthfeel is both slightly drying and finishes barely sticky.
The fourth again is much the same. The fifth is developing a slight creaminess and has more of a cool edge as well. The sixth again builds on more of a fresh woody taste edge to it. There is a very slight fruit taste in the breath- dates. The mouthfeel remains substantive but not overly drying.
In the seventh infusion the taste is nice and harmonious- woody depth, subtle freshness, barely coolness, drier fresher cut wood, dirt, composing leaves. All of these are fairly standard aged puerh tastes. The mouthfeel becomes more rounded as well and less dry. The qi congests in the chest over the heart. It has a mild path to the head and is mostly felt in the body.
In the eighth and ninth infusions the returning coolness is much stronger now giving the puerh a freshness to it. There are some sweet edges in the coolness that weren’t as evident in the early infusions. The taste doesn’t evolve too much and mainly presents with a dirt, woody, barely date taste. There is a true warming qi with this tea as the body feels nice and comforted.
The tenth is starting to become more plum/date tasting with the woody taste just a bit more dominant in the initial taste as the sweet taste disappears. A slightly drying wood in left in the throat.
The eleventh infusion starts to hollow out a touch and becomes more watery for the first time. The twelfth feels full once again, it must have been the 60 second off boil water for the eleventh. Suggestions of rose in this cup is a nice surprise.
Thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth give off a nice aged puerh taste. This puerh is steeped like this a handful more time. These late infusions you are basically left to enjoy the very clean aged taste. So nice.
At this point in time, I take a look at the label on the sample package. I am surprised that it is a 2003- I would have guessed late 90s. It’s very humid storage makes it feel like a late 1990s for me, even someone familiar with drinking this type of storage. I go on to Teamasters’ online store and look up this tea. I am again surprised that this tea is selling for $59.00 for 375g cake ($0.17/g). In my head while drinking it, I figured a cake of this quality would be $150.00. The only thing that really didn’t surprise me that it is from the Menghai region- it really tastes like this. I see that there are only a few cakes left. I put them all in my cart and check out- done.
This tea is simple and clean with a very aged taste for a 2003. If someone out there is looking for a really aged puerh taste without having to shell out hundreds of dollars- this is the one. The storage is excellent very humid but very clean storage. Cakes like this are relatively rare for Western puerh buyers.
If you looked at this criteria for tasting puerh, this tea would be heavily weighted a great everyday drinker. It feels clean and unsprayed. It feels harmonious in the body and mind. The qi sensation is warming and comfortable. The taste is quite standard but substantially aged tasting. The mouth and throatfeel are not the strong point of this tea but is not harsh.
The irony is this- the very first blog post I read on my return to blogging was no other than this post introducing this tea on Teamasters Blog. All this time I was searching hi and low for an everyday drinker and there it was all along.
It turns out that Stephane restocked this, there were 11 cakes a few days ago now it looks like there is only 8 left. Those that are seeking an affordable but nicely stored everyday drinker puerh, you got it in this one.
I really could not agree more with the lone reviewer on the vendor page, Alex N, when they pointedly state, “With some age and clean humid storage. By far the best I've found at this age and price. Don't hesitate.”