Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Verdant Tea, Master Han's Shu Pu'er 2002
The liquor is perfectly light and clear, with the green plantain and olive oil flavor distinctive to Master Han’s Black Tea and his Qianjiazhai shu pu’er. The tart notes in the tea are reminiscent of a blend of hibiscus, elderberry and rose. Herbaceous hints of coriander and fennel sneak into the aftertaste.
The musty and aged quality of this tea is so refined that it moves away from earthy and more towards the satisfying smell of old libraries. The more you sip, the more a camphor-like aftertaste and cooling sensation build up in the back of the throat. The aftertaste continues to build and get sweeter and juicier the more steepings you enjoy. It is exciting to see Master Han innovating and trying new things even when he has an established tradition of sheng pu’er. May future years bring more of this precious pu’er.
Today I am having a go at a 2002 puerh. It is out of stock, which means it is gone forever but reviewing this one will give some indication of what to expect from new cakes from Master Han.
The portion I have to sample is very dark and tightly compressed. The dry scent is a bit fishy to my nose but Verdant calls it sweet raisin aromatics with mossy forest undertones. I placed it in my press and added boiling water for a 30 second steep.
The brew comes out ruby red and grows darker in the cup. The wet leaf still has some fishy aroma to me, call it raisin all you want. But there is now darker notes like cocoa and brown sugar mixed with musty old book leather. This is starting to interest me.
The sip is like sniffing book leather along with wheat notes. Late in the sip it turns, not exactly brisk and not bitter, maybe more pronounced is the word I am thinking. As it cools I am getting what I will agree to be raisin notes. The aftertaste is kind of nutty and fruity. This is not fishy, or barnyard (beyond the leather). It is harsh but not completely mellow either.
Verdant is very specific and colorful in their description. If they get all those notes out of this then God bless them. Maybe with more steeps I'll come up with a few of them myself. My opinion is this is a much better puerh than the initial leaf aroma suggests but it is not one of my favorites.
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