Harvest year: 2003
Appellation: Yiwu, Yunnan, China
Price: USD$145 per 500gr beeng
Source: Stéphane Erler of Tea Masters
Dry leaves: Visually already quite aged for a 3-year old tea. Dark brown color generally, with black leaves here and there. Silvery, hairy buds visible throughout. A very nice waft of sweet, menthol-y smell.
Wet leaves: Smells sweet and menthol-y. Salty sweet aroma.
Stéphane’s Method: less leaves, longer infusion time
In his email to me, Stéphane wrote: “The best way to brew [this tea] is light: fewer leaves and long brewing time (roughly 1 minute, 2 minutes...).” So I followed his advice and found that the resulting brew by his method was excellent! I learned a new thing.
Parameter: “small” amount of leaves in a 4oz gaiwan (not weighed, but about 1/3 of my usual habit with sheng pu-erh), flash rinse, wait 1m, and then infuse for 1m, 1m, 1.5m, 2m, 3m, 3m, 4m, 5m, 10m, 20m, 30m.
Impeccable clarity! Medium brown-reddish color, almost luminous. Subtle, mellow aromas and not bitter, even though it received a long infusion time. The menthol-y or minty characteristic of this tea really shines…it gives a pleasant cooling and tingling feeling inside the mouth and throat. Medium bodied. The texture of this tea is very smooth with sateen-like tannin. Elegant. By the third infusion, I felt sufficiently buzzed and my body warm. Good overall cha qi. Best from the 2nd to 5th infusion, after which the tea goes on to give a pleasant sweet pu-erh taste until my last 9th brew, which I gave a 30-minute infusion.
5 stars (outstanding!)
So far, it is the best young pu-erh I’ve ever tasted, regardless of price.
My Method: more leaves, shorter infusion time
Exceptional clarity! When brewed with the more-leaves-shorter-infusion method, this tea had a fruitier profile and salty ocean breeze aroma. It retained its minty and cooling traits, but somehow I felt it less than when I brewed it by Stéphane’s way. Tannin is quite pucker-y and mouth drying. Of salty sweet, plums, apricot, green apple, with a slight vegetal bitterness. Fuller bodied. Best from 3rd to 6th brew. Robust cha-qi.
4+ stars (vg – outstanding!)