Raw puerh, here we go! I drink a lot of sheng (生) puerh. Unfortunately my desire to drink high quality puerh tea is slightly at odds with my infamous cheapness. I like to define myself as “frugal,” but my family members would tell you otherwise. Hence, I am on a never ending search for good tea that won’t cost me a ridiculous amount of money. With that said, I am more likely to drop a large amount of cash on tea than almost anything else in my life. In the words of James Norwood Pratt, perhaps America’s foremost tea expert, “No luxury is cheaper than tea.” In this video, he explains that a pound of tea that costs $600 per pound, or $37.50 per ounce, will yield about 600 cups. “One of the world’s greatest handmade works of art” will cost you about the same per serving as soda. And there are very few teas on the market that cost that much. So in the grand scheme of life, spending $100 or $200 on a puerh cake is not a huge expense I suppose. With that said, I would still cringe for days after spending $200 on puerh!
James Norwood Pratt also states that you should approach learning about tea “…like you would approach learning about making love: privately, discreetly, and with devotion and feeling.” Haha, what a weirdo!
His way of talking is so soothing and wonderful. I could just listen to his gravelly, soulful voice forever. Damn, I wish I had a voice like that.
Wow, what a tangent. On to the tea!
I bought this cake from PuerhShop. This cake is made from early spring silver buds, which explains it’s very unique appearance. Holy crap, look how silver/white it is!
The leaves are from Xishuangbanna, in the south of Yunnan Province, China. This cake is 400 g. Super size!
This puerh cake is very loosely compressed, perhaps to speed up the aging process a bit. The colors are beautiful, lots of white and silver mixed in with some darker leaves. The tea smells wonderful and really sweet. I’ve never smelled a puerh that is this light and floral.
I brewed 7.4 g of this puerh in my dedicated sheng puerh yixing pot! This was my first ever yixing pot, given to me by some great friends. This teapot inspires a lot of lovely memories every time I bring it out.
I gave this tea one ten second rinse. For the first few steeps, I was very careful to keep the infusion times very short, between five and ten seconds. I read a few reviews of this tea online, and other bloggers noted that this tea is very easy to oversteep and make it bitter. I tried to pay special attention not to do that!
Once the cake opened up a bit, the tasting started. Look at that beautiful color! This tea is a bizarre orange-yellow shade that I find quite pleasing. Peep the new cha hai I got from Scott at Yunnan Sourcing.
This tea is incredibly aromatic. I couldn’t stop myself from smelling it again and again, much to the amusement of my roommates. The astringent nature of the tea is one of the first things that I noticed after sipping the tea. This tea has plenty of astringency, like most young sheng puerhs, but I didn’t find it unpleasant. But then this tea really hit me over the head with its incredible sweetness. From what I understand, this sweet taste is somewhat characteristic of silver and white. The sweetness just lasts and lasts, and stays in the mouth for quite a while afterwords. This is definitely one of the sweetest tasting sheng puerhs I have tried.
As far as the flavor goes, this tea is very earthy and smokey tasting, along with a lot of the tobacco like flavors that are often noted in young sheng puerhs. This tea is not very complex though, which is perhaps its main flaw. The flavor kind of all comes at once, and then dies out quickly.
I made several more steeps, adding five or ten seconds each time. The flavor didn’t really change much over these repeated infusions, but the tea held up pretty well.
Here is the 6th or 7th steep. Still very bright and orange-yellow!
I got a solid 12 or 13 infusions out of this tea before it finally gave out.
The leaves are quite small and choppy. There are a few larger leaves in the mix, but they are a bit hard to find. Most of the leaves are a dull green color, but there are some purple guys thrown in the mix.
I am very happy that I tried this tea. It is not the best sheng puerh I have ever had, but it is probably the best I have had for the price. This tea is incredibly cheap, at $22.80 for a 400 g cake. This is a solid daily drinker for a puerh drinker on a budget. It is still quite “young” tasting and might improve a bit over time. But all in all, this a tea worth trying. This could explain why this tea is currently listed as the best selling sheng puerh on PuerhShop!