Finally...whew! I was able to split open the bamboo stick, get some of the leaves out, and brewed the 2003 "xiang zhu" fragrant bamboo pu-erh that is described by the vendor, Yunnan Sourcing LLC, as follows:
"Another incredibly unique Pu-erh process that is particular to the Dai and Jingpo people living in Dehong Prefecture of Yunnan. This Bamboo Pu-erh is special because a species of Bamboo called "xiang zhu" is harvested at a special time once a year when the aromatic bamboo is still relatively young and imbued with an incense like smell. Raw Pu-erh leaves have been forced down in the the open end of the aromatic bamboo section, then bamboo sections are barbecued in a wood fire. As the bamboo dries in the fire the special aroma intermingles with the Pu-erh inside. A tasty and intoxicatingly aromatic Pu-erh! Unforgettable!"
Unique? I think not. I honestly didn't detect any special fragrance from the bamboo itself (inside and out) or from the compressed tea leaves. Also, when brewed, neither the wet leaves nor the tea liquor give any "incense like smell" of the bamboo. In fact, this tea is of low quality (as expected), young, astringent, throat-scratching coarse, and unpleasant to drink in general. I've drunk quite a number of pu-erh to know what a good young pu-erh should taste like...and this is not one of them. To make things worse, it was very difficult to split the bamboo open to get into the leaves. I had to use a hammer, a screwdriver, and a lot of willpower. Unforgettable (in the worst sense)!
zero / 5 (yuck!)
Note: This is the same as item # D in my post dated 5/10/2006 below.