Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Teavivre, Ripened Chrysanthemum Pu-erh Mini Tuocha

Teavivre Description:
Infused with a beautiful tiny Chrysanthemum flower in each tea cake, these Mini Pu-erh Tuocha (or tea cakes) are created with our premium ripened Yunnan Pu-erh tea, harvested in 2008.  The warm mellow and earthy flavored Pu-erh tea flakes are compressed into a beautiful bird's nest shape then individually wrapped for proper storage.  The light Chrysanthemum lends a light and aromatic floral tone to the more earthy flavor of the Pu-erh, and the tea cakes are a convenient way to brew your tea by dropping one tea cake into your cup or teapot.  When brewed, the Chrysanthemum flower is revealed, and the tea is infused with its flavor and aroma.

My Review:
It has been too long since I have reviewed a puerh. It has been even longer since I have reviewed a ripe one. Today's tea is from Teavivre.  I got it through a botched trade with a Steepster friend. I sent her the wrong tea. I realized it the day after putting it in the mail. She was more than gracious and sent this along with several surprises to be reviewed later.

So, toucha are just cool. Single serving size. No Fuss. No measuring. They are wrapped in thin paper as pu-erh needs to breathe. Removing the paper reveals a little nest made of dark post fermented leaf and chrysanthemum petals. I detect no real aroma from the dry toucha.

I decided to use my 90 ml gaiwan for today's session. Why? Because I can. Filtered water was heated to 100C (212F) and poured around the edges of the gaiwan. The lid put in place, I steeped for 12s. I did not do the recommended rinse first. The liquor is wine like burgundy as it pours, turning more of an orange/brown as it cools.

The wet toucha has only partially disintegrated. The aroma is like that of battered and deep fried fish and fries. I have not seen that description used anywhere in connection with this pu-erh (or any other), but I can only offer what I experience. It is a strange scent, that made me hungry.

The taste of the first cup is really very similar to the aroma. It is like fish and chips meets hazel nut. Very unusual yet somehow I like it. Again, I did not rinse the leaf.

The second cup at 10s is a completely different tea. The moment the water hit the leaf, it turned very dark, like silky dark chocolate. The aroma is a bit barnyard. That normally doesn't concern me, as it is seldom an indicator of the taste.

This time the aroma does match the taste. In addition, it is bitter, with a strong spiciness. I also detect cedar and some sense of old leather. About now I questioning if I should have used a western mug method instead of the gaiwan.

Third cup was steeped for 5s. The tea pours a beautiful red wine color. There is no off odor in this cup. It is rich, earthy, and cedar. Once again the taste coincides with the scent. The spice note seems more connected to the cedar in this cup and the leather is less noticeable. This cup is not bitter.

One thing is for sure, this tea is a roller coaster ride - frightening one moment, exhilarating the next. Holding my hands up high and preparing to scream real loud with a smile on my face, it's time for round four.

Steeped at 10s, this is the best cup yet. There is no bitterness or barnyard. This is rich spicy cedar, and much smoother than the previous cup. The leather is more prominent this time.

Can we ride the coaster again? Can we? Huh? Can we? Yes please!

Cup five @ abt 12s. The tea continues to pour burgundy but looks much darker in the cup. This is almost a mirror of the previous cup. The spicy cedar and the leather are now more equal. The leather revealing itself to be more of an old book leather. Another excellent cup.

My kidneys are now taking the role of mom and saying, "That's enough, let's go." Meanwhile my taste buds are the gang of friends I'm hanging out with. They are all like, "Pretend you didn't hear her and ride one more time." What to do? What to do? Yep, one more time! I'm a bad boy. I'll be grounded later, but it will be worth it.

Cup six @ abt 15s. The tea is slightly lighter in color. The cedar is now less intense and the spiciness now clings to the old book leather. Very nice.

Mom now has a firm hold on my arm and says I'm done. I'm trying not to cry in front of my friends. I do manage to mudder under my breath, "I never get to have any fun!" ;) Until next time.

 You can find Teavivre Ripened Chrysanthemum Pu-erh Mini Tuocha here.

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