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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!