I’ve tried a few pu-erh teas to date and see its possibilities. So, when this tea arrived, the explorer and experimenter in me took over. Heh heh!
First, being true to the principles of The Little Yellow Teapot (our buddy and main steeper in these tea tastings), hubby and I checked the English Tea Store site for steeping instructions. Pretty simple: boiling water, steep 2-10 minutes.
Whoa…wait a minute. The steeping time ranges from 2 to 10 minutes? Hm…which one do we choose? Lots of options here. We finally decided on three trials:
- Trial 1– Several 2-minute infusions. We would infuse the same two spoonfuls of tea with several rounds of 2 cups of boiling water. Steep. Strain. Steep. Strain. Etc.
- Trial 2– Two or more 5-minute infusions. We would infuse the same one spoonful of tea with several rounds of 1 cup of boiling water.
- Trial 3 – Two or more 10-minute infusions. We would infuse the same one spoonful of tea with several rounds of 1 cup of boiling water.
According to the vendor’s Website, this young pu-erh is slightly aged black tea that was compressed into a big cake while the leaves were still moist and then allowed to dry. The big cake was then flaked apart to make the tea easier for tea drinkers to handle. We’re glad they did!
The Results – Trial 1
We did a total of four infusions. As you can see, the liquid color got only slightly lighter in the first 3 infusions. It was a full shade lighter in the 4th infusion and, while still aromatic, was too weak in taste.
The aroma in the cup maintained its loamy, sweet characteristics. The flavor, however, went through a progression. It started out mild and musty. The next one was a bit mushroomy, slightly musty, mild, and smoother. The 3rd was milder and smoother still. The final was unfortunately one infusion too many, with a weak, watery flavor.
The tea leaves dry and after the 4 infusions:
The cupful shown in the photo below is actually the combination of the remainder of all four 2-minute infusions:
The flavor of these infusions pales in comparison with the next trials we did.
The Results – Trial 2
Overall, Trial 2 and Trial 3 with this Pu-erh were far better than the first round of short infusions in Trial 1. It seems that this tea needs time for all of its flavors to infuse out into the hot water.
The first infusion had a loamy, rich aroma and a mild, smooth, caramelly taste that took on a nut-like character as it cooled. The second infusion had a rich aroma and a lighter flavor that was a tinge edgy but was overall good.
The Results – Trial 3
The first infusion was richly fragrant with a full-bodied flavor that was mild, smooth, loamy/nutty, with a slight tang. The second infusion while richly aromatic, was rather flat tasting, having lost most of its unique flavor characteristics.
We tried a cupful of that 10-minute first infusion with some milk and sweetener just to see what it would be like and were very pleasantly surprised. The character had undergone quite a change, becoming even smoother and full-bodied, yet the musty notes still came through. We noted that as we added tea to the cup (which already had milk in it), the color first turned a soft rosy pink, then a deeper rose, then mauve, and finally an almost cocoa-reddish-brown. Very appropriate, since one sip revealed the cocoa notes. Then, we each took in a large mouthful. Ah! Definitely cocoa notes, yet that musty taste was still there. Delightful!
We recommend the 10-minute infusion (one only) for the most complete taste experience, especially if you want to try it with milk and sweetener as we did.
More importantly, this tea is full of possibilities. You can steep it shorter times for that milder, mustier flavor, or go for the long haul and a richer, fuller flavor. The choice is yours!
Disclaimer: This tea was provided by the company named. However, the rating of the tea and any opinions concerning it are always strictly objective.
Check out Little Yellow Teapot Tea Reviews for more great info!