Sunday, August 10, 2014

Teavivre, Fengqing Ancient Tree Raw Pu-erh Cake 2014

Raw Pu-erh Sample
Teavivre Description:
A TeaVivre brand raw pu-erh cake – older than 300 years, authentic pu-erh tea tree in Yunnan, high quality, and desirable taste – the Fengqing Ancient Tree Raw Pu-erh Cake 2014 deserves to be in your collection.

Original Place: Alihou Village, Desili, Mengyou, Fengqing, Yunnan.
Harvest Time: April 20 – May 15, 2014.

Sample provided by Teavivre

My Review:
I grabbed this one out of the box of teas to be reviewed for a few reasons. I have been battling a rather lengthy lung infection and raw puerh seems to have antihistamine qualities that open up my lungs. That seems like a good thing. The medicine the doctors have me taking has messed with my immune system and puerh seems to replenish the good bacteria in my system. Just as important, it is raining and dreary today and that just says puerh to me. So away we go.

Dry Leaf
I have a sample of this tea in one of the little silver wrappers. The tea is sold in a 357 g cake. My sample was loosely compressed and came apart very easily. It is green and fresh looking, appearing little different from a green tea. This is a very young sheng only a few months old so that shouldn't really surprise me. The aroma is pleasantly grassy. There are no off notes.

I have decided to brew this like the cool kids today and used the entire sample. My normal habit is to use much less, say 2 - 3 grams (1 tsp) per cup. For me this is breaking all the rules by using the entire 10 g sample. In traditional gong fu brewing more leaf and less water is used. I am compromising a bit by using a massive 5 oz of water per pot. Traditionally, more like 3 oz (100ml) is used. I am such a rebel.

The First Steep
I also compromised on the first water temperature I used - 205 F. I knew this was a young raw puerh and they can be very astringent. My hope was the lower temperature from the recommended full boil would help lessen the sharpness of the tea. My first steep in the Yixing pot was 15 seconds.

The resulting brew is apricot in color. I did not use a filter and only a few small pieces of leaf made their way into my cup.

The wet leaf is beginning to come to life. It has a pleasant seaweed like aroma. Once again, I see nothing out of place or harsh in the aroma. I am afraid the picture does not do the leaf justice but with my limited equipment, and more importantly my limited skills, it is the best I could get with the leaf still in the clay teapot. You can see the leaf remains nicely green.

Wet Leaf In The Yixing 
Now taking the first sip, I am pleasantly surprised how nice this tastes. I was expecting a bitter astringent cup. Maybe it is partially due to my cooler starting temperature, or maybe not.

Yes, it is a little bitter, and a little astringent but not in an overwhelming or annoying way. Behind the cheek tingle I am tasting a fruitiness that makes me think apricot, along with a nutty or woodsy element. It also tastes mineral, like one gets when licking a rock. Finally, I notice a grassiness in the aftertaste.

I seem to be on a roll here. This is about the fourth tea I have sampled in a row that I had no desire to add sweetener. I normally do so anyway just to see how the taste responds. Here, I just didn't care. I was happy with it the way it tasted. I do think if the astringency is a bit much for your taste, a little sweetener would calm it right down.

In this first cup I already feel the cooling camphor affect on my breath and in my lungs. I love that. It has not given me the sought after tummy rumble yet, but I do feel a heightened sense of tranquility. Wonderful Cha Chi.

For the second cup, I chose to up the temperature to 212 F (100 C) and shortened the steep to 12 seconds. The cup is a slightly darker apricot than before. The leaf has nearly doubled in volume inside the pot. This is more astringent with some pucker power. I still don't want to tame it with additions. Strangely it seems highly salty. I have been noticing that a lot lately and am convinced it must be the medicine. Others reported this growing sweet but maybe that will come in later steeps.

On the third cup I returned to 205 F and a 10 second steep. That helped a lot with the erupting astringency of the previous cup. Mineral, salt, and a little mushroom, with a lot of green tea under the bite. It feels slightly sticky at this point and is getting a little sweeter.

I am going to continue steeping this throughout tomorrow. From other reviews it will go many more times.

Wrapping up my thoughts, this is a neat raw puerh. Will it age well? I have no idea, but it certainly is drinkable even in its extreme youth.

You can find Fengqing Ancient Tree Raw Pu-erh Cake 2014 here.

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