Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea from Satemwa Tea Estate

Today’s review will focus on the Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea (518) from Satemwa Tea Estate. This is a ripe (shu) pu’er which comes in a loose leaf form. This is the first pu’er tea that I have tried from anywhere on the African continent, so it should be interesting to see how this compares to the loose leaf shu pu’ers that I have tried from China.

To view more information on the Satemwa Tea Estate, located in Thyolo, Malawi, please click here.

The sample packet has been opened, and a strong earthy aroma is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

Satemwa Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea Dry Leaves
Satemwa Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform faded black color. The leaves are small to medium sized leaf fragments. The leaves are rolled. There is a considerable amount of bare stems in the mix, some being the size of small match sticks. The leaves have a very dry, slightly rigid texture. The feel of the leaves is not grainy, like some loose shu pu’ers that I have had, which gives these leaves a comparatively clean appearance. The aroma is dominantly earthy, with scents of fresh soil, moss, raw cocoa, and light raw spinach. Do not be confused by the description, this aroma is quite clean and energizing.

The clean appearance of the leaves has inspired me to do two separate infusions, one cup that will have leaves which will receive a ten second rinse, and the leaves in the second cup will not be rinsed at all. This tea appears to be processed in such a way that the rinse is unnecessary.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for brewing this tea at home is to use three grams of dry leaves for each six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 to 3:00 minutes. The same leaves may be reused at least three to four times. Once I compare the rinsed infusion to the non-rinsed infusion, I will suggest whether the rinse is needed or not.

Satemwa Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea Rinsed Infusion
Satemwa Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea Rinsed Infusion
Satemwa Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea Non-Rinsed Infusion
Satemwa Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea Non-Rinsed Infusion

The infusion (both rinsed and non-rinsed) produced a liquor with an orange-brown color, perfectly clear and transparent. The non-rinsed infusion is just as clear as the rinsed infusion, may be a very slight shade darker, and has very little particulate. The rinsed infusion had even less particulate, but neither cup had much at all. The aroma had dominant scents of moist soil, dried prunes, moss, and wood. The non-rinsed infusion had a very slightly stronger aroma than the rinsed, but both had the same general characteristics. The body is medium-full, with a smooth, clean texture for both infusions. The rinsed infusion did not have any cleaner of a taste or texture than the non-rinsed. The taste had notes of mineral rich soil, moss, light raw cocoa, and light raw root vegetable. The taste is very complex, earthy, and invigorating. The non-rinsed had a slightly stronger taste, but the general characteristics were the same as the rinsed. The aftertaste is sweetly earthy, almost mossy, which is certainly not a description that I remember using before with regard to aftertaste. A mossy essence is left on the breath.

All things considered, I do not believe that a rinse is entirely necessary for this tea. I found very little difference between the rinsed and non-rinsed infusions. However, if you are new to pu’er tea, or generally prefer lighter taste, then I suppose a rinse will not deduct any of the important characteristics of this tea. On the other hand, if earthy pu’er is your preference, then skip the rinse.

Satemwa Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea Infused Leaves
Satemwa Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform tar-black, almost glossy color. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments, and there is a considerable amount of bare stems in the mix. The leaves have a rough feel, suggesting that multiple additional infusions will produce quality liquors. The aroma has the scent of moist, nutrient rich soil. It is an incredibly clean, fresh, and natural aroma. It makes me want to get out of this office and go do some gardening.

What an incredible experience this Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea turned out to be! To be honest, the heavy earthy soil aroma will certainly put some doubt in the mind of those who do not drink ripe (shu) pu’er tea often. Please, do not judge this tea by the aroma of the dry leaves alone. Once my taste and perception of this tea adapted to the unique character, I could not put the cup down. As I finish this review, I am brewing up the third infusion, and it just keeps getting better. The taste is amazingly clean, uplifting, and natural. To this point, I have not found a loose shu pu’er that I have liked enough to consider keeping in my personal collection, but that ends here! The Dark Leaf Pu-erh from Satemwa Tea Estate deserves much respect! Between the white teas, black teas, and now pu’er teas that are just phenomenal from Satemwa, they are an oolong tea away from producing great tea products of all types. I still have a few green teas from Satemwa to try also.

Thank you to the management of Satemwa Tea Estate for providing this amazing sample! Cheers!

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Fengqing Raw Puer Tuo Cha 2006 from TeaVivre

It seems like it has been a long time since I reviewed a sheng (raw) puer tea. It also seems like it has been a while since I had an opportunity to review a product from TeaVivre. Time to put an end to both of those time periods.

I was very excited to see not just one, but two sheng puers in the most recent package of samples I received from TeaVivre. The subject of this review is the aged 2006 puer tuo cha from Fengqing, Lincang, Yunnan Province, China. The Yunnan Large-Leaf tea trees produce the leaves used to make this puer tea. Generally speaking, larger, more mature leaves should make for a stronger, yet mellow infusion.

TeaVivre has quite a bit of information regarding this tea on their website. Rather than paraphrase, why don’t I just give you the link to read for yourself.

Let the journey begin…

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer Dry Leaves
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer Dry Leaves

The dry leaves display a variety of colors, from yellow to silver, faded green to dark green, and light to dark brown shades. Since this tea came in a ten gram sample package, some of the leaves were loose, while others were parts of condensed chunks. The leaves appear to be medium to large fragments. I cannot see any leaves that appear to be whole and unbroken. The aroma is smoky, earthy, and with a hint of wet fur.

Ten grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were rinsed for fifteen seconds, then infused for one minute. The amount of dry leaves may seem high, but this was the suggested weight to water ratio from TeaVivre. Actually, the suggestion is ten grams in eight ounces. The temperature I used and infusion time are much lower than the recommendation of 212°F (100°C) for three to ten minutes.

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 1st Infusion
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a dark yellow-gold color, clear and transparent. The aroma was smoky, earthy, and lightly floral. The body was medium, with a smooth, clean feel. The taste had notes of animal (musk), mineral (wet stone), floral (jasmine), and a very light raisin hint. There is a mineral aftertaste, and a flowery essence left on the breath. I am looking forward to a better balanced second infusion, and would not be surprised if the third is the best tasting of the three.

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 2nd Infusion
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 2nd Infusion

 

The second infusion produced a liquor with a nearly identical shade of dark yellow-gold color as the first infusion. The aroma remains earthy and floral, with the smokiness having dissipated slightly. The body remains medium. The taste did balance out some, but I still do not think it has reached the optimum balance. The tastes remain floral (jasmine), mineral (wet stone), animal (musk), and light raisin. The aftertaste has become slightly more floral and less mineral. As usual with puer, I love feeling the tea evolve from infusion to infusion. Looking forward to the third and beyond.

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 3rd Infusion
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with again a nearly identical color as the first and second infusions. The aroma remains earthy, floral, lightly smoky, and a woody scent is evolving also. The taste is balancing better in this infusion, and the body feels even smoother and more refined. The floral (jasmine) taste seems to be changing into more of a woody taste, while the animal (musk) and mineral tastes remain strong, with the light raisin taste also persisting. The aftertaste began to give a dry feeling in the mouth. I still think that the taste has not reached it’s optimal balance quite yet. I will say, however, that this third infusion has definitely been my favorite of the first three infusions.

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 4th Infusion
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 4th Infusion

I continued infusing this tea for six infusions before running out of time. The color, aroma, body, texture, and taste remained quite similar, with only lightening slightly, from the fourth to sixth infusion. I have no doubt that this tea could have gone to ten infusions or more.

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer Infused Leaves
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from light green to forest green, and a few are light brown. The leaves are all medium to large fragments, with no unbroken leaves being pulled from the mix. The aroma reminds me of a wet forest floor, with scents of wood and light flowers. There is a touch of animal musk in the scent, as well.

The Fengqing Raw Puer Tuo Cha 2006 had the earthy, mature tastes that any fan of puer tea expects from an aged sheng puer tea. This is not a tea that you would offer to friends or family who are new to tea drinking, or prefer lighter tastes. It is quite powerful in aroma, taste, and energy. This tea is perfect for a long evening of reading or study. This is truly a tea drinker’s tea.

Thank you, TeaVivre, for giving me the opportunity to try the Fengqing Raw Puer Tuo Cha 2006. Cheers!

 

Palace Puerh Tea from Hunan Xiangfeng Tea Industry Co. Ltd.

On September 4th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to the Yunnan Province of China, which is famous for it’s production of puerh tea, the lesser known type of tea in the Western hemisphere. This particular sample of Palace Puerh Tea was provided by the Hunan Xiangfeng Tea Industry Co. Ltd., based in Changsha City, Hunan Province, China.

This Palace Puerh Tea is a loose leaf form of Shu puerh. Shu puerh may also be referred to as cooked or black puerh. Although this particular sample is in loose leaf form, most puerh teas come in the form of a condensed “cake”, which are shaped to look like a disc, brick, or other more artistic shapes such as mushrooms. These condensed forms of puerh tea can be very difficult to break in to a usable pile of loose tea. I had broken several knifes on puerh tea cakes before deciding to purchase a puerh needle, which is a thick needle with a very sharp tip made specifically for breaking puerh cakes. This sometimes impractical process of breaking condensed cakes, and the recent spreading popularity of puerh tea, led tea producers to begin offering this type of tea in loose leaf form.

Puerh tea has a rich history, as well as countless interesting facts regarding production and it’s unique ability to improve through aging. I personally find puerh tea to be the most interesting type of tea in general, and generally refer to it (and oolong) as my preferred taste in teas. However, this post is about one particular product, being the Palace Puerh Tea. As I continue posting reviews of other puerh teas, I will include more interesting facts on puerh.

Let the journey begin…

Date: 09/04/2013

Product Name: Palace Puerh Tea

Purchased From: Hunan Xiangfeng Tea Industry Co. Ltd.

Origin: Specifics not known. Somewhere in Yunnan Province, China.

Type of Tea: Puerh (or Dark) Tea

Tea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

Palace Puerh Dry Leaves

Aroma: Earthy (wet earth and barnyard). Note: Do not judge the tea based on these descriptive words. These descriptions are not necessarily negative in the world of tea.

Dryness: Very dry. Breaks in to fine crumbles.

Color: Light to dark brown, with some golden leaves. Leaves appear aged.

Texture: A general “dusty” feel. Some smooth, dry, twisted and curled leaves. Some rigid leaves that appear slightly rolled.

Size, Shape, Length: Mostly uniform twisted leaves averaging a length of 0.5 inches (13 mm). Some leaves have curled, while others appear rolled.

Unique Characteristics: The dusty feel of the dry leaves, caused by the artificial aging process, is certainly unique to loose shu puerh. The aroma, color, and texture are all unique characteristics of a loose shu puerh.

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water: 18 ounces (532 ml)

Amount of Tea: 8 grams

Tea Liquor Evaluation:

First Infusion:

Palace Puerh 1st Infusion

Water Temperature: 212°F (100°C)

Infusion Time: 0 Minutes and 30 seconds.

Aroma: Earthy, musty, wet wood.

Color: Very Dark Copper. Very slight haziness. Transparent.

Taste: Earthy (musty), wet wood, forest floor. Sweet finish, perhaps caramel or molasses. Smooth and rich mouth feel. No bitterness whatsoever. Aftertaste is sweet and a little spicy, reminiscent of black licorice perhaps.

Comments: The more I sipped on this first infusion, the more I felt the subtle and unique notes of sweetness. The smooth mouthfeel and pleasant aftertaste were very nice. I really enjoyed the taste of this first infusion, and am interested to see how the taste progresses through infusions two and three.

Second Infusion:

Palace Puerh 2nd Infusion

Water Temperature: 212°F (100°C)

Infusion Time: 0 Seconds and 45 seconds.

Aroma: Richer and slightly more robust than the 1st infusion. Earthy, musty, wet wood.

Color: Very dark red, almost black. Translucent, but not transparent. Significantly darker than the 1st infusion.

Taste: Fuller body than the 1st infusion. Earthy of forest floor and musty. Smooth, almost velvety with a slightly sweet (molasses) finish. Aftertaste still reminds me of black licorice. The taste is very structured.

Comments: This second infusion was better than the 1st. The extra fifteen seconds of infusion time made the color darker, the body fuller and velvety, and the taste more rich. I would expect this tea to have multiple additional infusions to offer.

Third Infusion:

Palace Puerh 3rd Infusion

Water Temperature: 212°F (100°C)

Infusion Time: 1 Minute and 0 seconds.

Aroma: Earthy (forest floor, musty), slightly spicy.

Color: Very dark red, but not quite as dark as 2nd infusion. Translucent, but not transparent.

Taste: Earthy (musty, forest floor), but not as strong as 2nd infusion. Body is still full and velvety. Sweet (molasses) finish. Aftertaste is lighter, but still reminiscent of black licorice.

Comments: Not quite as rich of a flavor as the 2nd infusion, but that is not necessarily a negative. This third infusion was very nicely balanced, and the flavor was still rich, just not as rich as the 2nd infusion. This tea will definitely produce a fourth, fifth, and perhaps a sixth and seventh infusion that will have an acceptable flavor.

Tea Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

Palace Puerh Wet Leaves

Color: Uniform dark brown to black.

Aroma: Earthy (forest floor, musty), slightly sweet like dried fruit.

Size, Shape: Fairly uniform length averaging 0.75 inches (19 mm). All broken leaf fragments, some stalks. There is a good chance that this may have been processed by machinery instead of by hand.

Unique Characteristics: Dark black color. Aroma is earthy, yet slighty fruity. Seems machine cut and rolled.

Final Comments: I must say that I am impressed by this loose shu puerh. Generally speaking, I prefer puerh in cake form, as I find the loose forms to be a bit grainy in taste. However, this loose puerh was not grainy at all. This was definitely the best loose puerh that I have tried thus far. The taste actually improved from the 1st to 2nd infusions, and again from the 2nd to 3rd infusions. This form of tea is usually not a favorite of the novice tea drinkers, and honestly I do not expect this tea to be an instant favorite. However, as the drinker continues to sip this tea, they should be able to put aside the earthy tastes and appreciate the sweeter and spicier notes, as well as the very pleasant velvety and smooth feel of the liquor. I am a fan of this Palace Puerh Tea. Great first review of the many samples that I received from Hunan Xiangfeng. Looking forward to reviewing the rest, even if they are just half as good as this tea.