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This China green tea’s flavor balances the ethereal fragrance, like drinking the nectar of fresh flowers.
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A Sheng Pu'er is left fairly green at the beginning of it's life and turns dark over many years of aging. This tea was harvested in Spring of 2007 and Autumn of 2009. We acquired it in 2010 and had it pressed and aged in a special warehouse in Hunan. Only 360 discs were pressed.
Now, over five years later, tea has developed honey-sweet, sappy astringent flavors and the beginnings of a round, lingering mouthfeel. Expect aromas of baked acorn squash, distant wood smoke and pickled vegetables. As this tea continues to age, it will get smoother, darker, and richer, hitting its stride in another 3-5 years. It should age successfully for at least another 2 decades.
For best results, use a Yixing clay tea pot with strainer and spout for multiple infusions, gongfu style.
Tea weighs 4.4oz.
Because I was unable to make it to our Team tasting, Brian (Our coffee and tea educator) was able to put time aside for me for a private tasting - - At first sight, I was a bit intimidated by the design and compression of the disc, the dark color of the tea (I’m a fan of green tea), and the aromas of what seem to smell like wet hay. I automatically told myself that I was not going to like it.
I have to say the Sheng Pu’er was not at all was I had expected… I actually enjoyed it… and I mean A LOT!! I was very surprised that the leaves were actually green after steeping. After seeing that, I was able to relax a bit and welcome the different flavor profile.
Sheng Pu’er is extremely light, very refreshing, slightly nutty, and had just enough natural sweetness. and ’m not quite sure what I liked the most… the numbing of my tongue from the astringency or the actual flavor profile!
It was an amazing experience comparing Sheng Pu'er to our Organic Ancient Trees Pu'er - Tremendous similarities, however so much milder.
Some thoughts on this tea, brewing, storage, and so forth, after a bit of experience with my first cake (Bing) of this tea. Again, a <b>great </b> cha, if my relatively inexperienced palate can be believed. Congratulations, Elliott, and thanks for a rare and wonderful experience.
(This was the fruit of Elliott’s travels to China; he was offered a sample of this fine Sheng, and fell in love with it, eventually deciding to have it aged for six years to offer at Peet’s silver anniversary). Don’t hesitate if you want some of this; it’s an extremely small batch and will sell out in days, if I’m not mistaken.
I've changed my mind a bit about harvesting technique. This is a looser cake than I first thought (nothing wrong with that!). It really doesn't need to be worked back and forth between the fingers to loosen it, as a very firm Bing might need. I wouldn't use a pu'erh knife, either, for choice, but a pu'erh needle, or you could use an ice pick.
Starting from the back of the cake (the part with the impression), use the needle to probe for a loose part at the side of the indentation, perhaps 20-25 percent into the thickness of the cake. When the needle slips in, push it gently in parallel with the back face of the cake about an inch until you've just begun to loosen a thin flake of the tea. Remove the needle and move it perhaps a half-inch, repeat the insertion of the needle, and move a third time and insert. By the third needle insertion you'll have a nice flake of about the right size for brewing. Repeat this process if you need more. (There are YouTube demonstrations of Pu’erh harvesting if you google for them, not all identical, but you’ll get the idea after you’ve watched two or so). It’s advised that you weigh the tea on a small kitchen scale.
Three grams is about right for an American-style tea-ball brewing; it’s recommended that you put the ball into your cup and rinse it with freshly-boiled best water (I use spring water), discarding the water after about 20 seconds. (Don’t boil the heck out of the water, either; take off the heat just as it’s beginning to actually boil—within seconds if you can). Then you can brew for no more than 2 minutes (time it!) and remove your tea ball from the cup, reserving the once-brewed tea leaves.
When you’re finished your service, re-wrap your cake carefully, and put it back into a box. Keep it in an odor-free cabinet at moderate temperatures and humidities. This one will improve for decades, perhaps; it’s just a bit young right now for the best results. I bought a second cake to put away for later.
If you want to begin going Chinese, you’ll find that repeated extractions of the same tea will actually improve the balance, reducing the astringency a bit and bringing the tea into balance. Those acculturated to Chinese methods will increase the brewing time by 10 seconds with each extraction. The Chinese method would use an unglazed clay pot for choice, brewing up five to seven grams with perhaps four ounces of water at a time, and serving in small handle-less bowls (cups) with a light bottom so the color of the tea can be seen. Again, there’s lots of YouTube instruction on doing this thing the ‘right’ way, the way of the Cha ceremony. (The tea leaves are shown to your guests before brewing, and the tea is presented very ceremoniously and respectfully).
Allow the liquid to cool a moment and drink in three-and-a-half slurps, if you’re into being Zen (Chan, actually). I really wish that the Chinese government organic certification sticker, and the paper wrapping of the tea factory and master with the data it contains, were included with the cake, although I have no doubt as to quality of this tea—very little non-organic fertilizing and so forth seems to have been done in these very primitive tea mountain areas by the minorities whose passion and life-work this tea is, the harvesting and care of these very ancient trees. I guess that Peet’s didn’t want to identify this product with anyone but themselves, but it would have been respectful of the tea master to include more information.
Medium-tight cakes; best to use a puerh knife or something like an ice pick to harvest the cake. (First you gently work it back and forth between the fingers to loosen it up without breaking it, and then push the knife in from around the edge to pry the disk into two similar-shaped halves, then break off a piece about 1 x 1 inch for a 7 gram serving; best to weight it.
Brewed one to two minutes at about 200 degrees after a short rinse with boiling water. Made with spring water. Broth is light yellowish brown. Very full sweet aromas and flavors complimented by a delicate umami, with complex herb, light wheat grass, and smoke notes, a complete mineral background, very fine full mouth-feel, and proper astringency. This is one of the finest and most balanced sheng pu-ehrs I've yet tasted in my short experience with this beverage, although I've decades of experience tasting wines and so forth. Yes, quite expensive, but not outrageous, given the quality. However, I wish when they'd first advertised it they had given a weight, and even now it's somewhat short of 4.4 ounces (it masses 120 grams, 4.28 ounces) , but that usually can't be helped with a hand-pressed tea. I guess I'm looking for perfection at this price and it's darn close here. If you don't know what raw pu-erh is supposed to taste like, it takes some accommodation. Not like many other teas.. But this was an honor to taste and own. Rather than griping I'm happy I bought a second cake.
Would be nice to know the factory, the tea master, and the picking regime, but it's not given on the label--that might make this tea actually increase in value over a couple decades. This is a stylish, typical Jingmai mountain tea (says so on the label, but not the original ad), perhaps the greatest of all tea mountains, from exceptionally old tea trees, if I can believe what my eyes tell me.
Pu’erh tea, both fermented and sheng (raw), is one of the best of all milk-and-sugar teas, and for those who don’t think they’d like this, you’ll be amazed at it. I’ve actually been making what I call Brevi-tea®, by extracting 20 grams with 6-8 ounces with a double espresso head, and competing with steamed milk or cream, to make a double, and topping with Normandy whipped cream. Heaven!
Tea just arrived.
Quality appears very high; but there is no wrapper as is usual with these teas as they arrive from Yunnan, China. The stem and tip composition is really lovely.
Although I realize that no weight was given for the cake, it weighs just 125 grams, as compared with about 375 grams for a standard cake. The fact that I don't see a weight on this is somewhat troubling. The cost I paid for this per gram is as high or higher than probably 95 percent of what’s on the market from China, more than $150 per standard size cake..
I will write again when I have had a chance to actually brew up some.
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