Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teavivre, Lotus Leaf Raw Pu-erh Mini Tuocha

Raw Lotus Pu-erh
Teavivre Description:
Unlike many other teas which should be consumed shortly after production, such as green and white teas, Pu-erh tea can either be brewed immediately or it can be stored and aged for many years, much like a fine wine. Most Pu-erh teas are classified by the year they were produced and the region they were grown in, much like many wine vintages. In fact, when it comes to Pu-erh tea, the longer it is stored and aged properly, the more complex the flavor and the more valuable the tea gets.

My Review:
I picked up 50 g of this during Teavivre's 3rd anniversary sale. These were not on sale the day I bought them, but you know how it is when you are close to getting free shipping... 50 g gets you 10 mini touchas ($0.59 each). I like the convenience of not having to measure. 1 toucha per session. I realize many serious gong fu drinkers report using 10 g at a time. Personally, if I measure, I am more likely to use 3 g, so this is a good compromise.

Green And Mostly Intact After 1st Steep
When I removed these from the sealed aluminum bag, the scent was incredible. It is intensely a bread aroma. I put one of the little bird nests into my yixing teapot and added 5 oz of boiling water. I did not do a rinse - I figure why bother, I'm just going to drink it anyway. My first steep was around 40 seconds.

The toucha has barely begun to dissolve. It has turned very green. The loose leaf bits in the pot remind me of chopped celery leaves.

I didn't think to strain as I poured, so I did get some bits of leaf in my cup. Not so many as to be annoying, and they did sink to the bottom and stay there. The first steep is very light in color with a honey tint. The shot on Teavivre's website is much lighter and almost creamy colored, so they must have used a much shorter steep time. The label for western brewing says 3 to 5 minutes.

Honey Colored Liquor
The taste of the first cup makes me think hazelnut. I did not expect it. Raw pu-erh usually has a strong astringent bite that comes off as metallic to my tastes. This one has near zero astringency and no metallic taste. I was not really expecting a lotus flavor as I detected no floral in their ripe rose toucha. The flower addition seems to really soften the more harsh notes of pu-erh. This does have a crisp mineral taste like fresh spring water that rises up towards the end of the sip.

For round two, I steeped 30 seconds. The tea is now darker and more apricot colored leaning towards orange. The toucha is shedding layers of green pieces of leaf but remains largely intact.

The hazelnut note seems to be gone when hot but comes back once the cup cools. This now tastes more like a young raw pu-erh without the harshness or bitterness that is typical. It feels thick and syrupy. I am getting some sticky lip feel from it. I also notice the astringency has risen some but remains manageable. There is a fruit flavor, possibly apricot, towards the end of the sip. The aftertaste is sweet and green tea tasting.

Third cup, also at 30 seconds, is slightly darker than the last. The toucha is stubbornly holding together but much more loosely now. I can see the leaf is much larger and far more intact than the early shedding suggested.

This cup is stronger. There is more edge. It is not harsh but has a bitterness that I like. I feel the astringency on the inside of my cheeks. When it was hot I momentarily thought I caught brief leather notes. After it begins to cool it develops a mineral and almost cave like flavor. The cooler it got the more I again catch the hazelnut at the end of the sip.

This is a really interesting and complex toucha. I know it has several steeps left in it and I will get to them later. Based on what I have already tasted, I give this two thumbs up. This is a tasty young raw pu-erh.

You can find Lotus Leaf Raw Pu-erh Mini Tuocha here.

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