Saturday, August 22, 2015

3 Leaf Tea, Aged Tangerine Pu'erh

3 Leaf Tea Description:
2009 pu'erh packed into a tangerine, imported from China.

Steep 1 tsp in boiling water for 3 minutes.

Sample provided by 3 Leaf Tea

My Review:
The wife and I went to town this morning to have breakfast. Met up with a couple old friends and enjoyed some good food and good conversation. When we arrived home and checked the mail, there was the usual pile of bills and an envelope of samples from 3 Leaf Tea. This is a new company launched in 2014. The owner, Luciana, has developed several flavored matcha. She also has hot chocolate, and a small collection of loose leaf teas. In the envelope was one sample of each category (matcha, hot chocolate, and loose tea).

Normally, when I receive samples they go to the back of the box. I do try to mix things up so you don't read only reviews of one company through several posts. 3 Leaf Tea arrived at the most opportune time. I have been craving pu'erh for a few days but haven't been home long enough to enjoy it. Today is finally the day and I have never tried a pu'erh aged in a tangerine before.

The sample arrived in a clear plastic ziplock bag. As you can see the label tells you what you are drinking and how they recommend you prepare it. I appreciate the steeping instructions being on the label - no web searching required.

The dry leaf has a very fresh scent. It is fresh hay with just a touch of fruit from the tangerine. There are no off aromas.

The leaf is loose and dark twists. Pieces of the tangerine are clearly evident. Based on the picture on the website, I assume when you order this, it includes an entire tangerine packed with leaf. I really should check on this and update.

The sample was about 2 tsp of leaf. The directions call for 1 tsp per cup with boiling water. The steep time is 3 minutes. This is not how I normally prepare pu'erh but I am going with the directions and we will see what happens.

The resulting liquor is at first glance 'tea' colored. Actually, it has a slightly more ruby tint than the normal orange/brown cup. The however is that it is not the deep inky black sip I was expecting with a long steep.

The wet leaf is black and has an aroma far more characteristic of shu. It is strongly barnyard in scent. This seldom translates into the cup so don't smell the leaf if you don't want to know.

Upon first sip, I am again surprised. I am not sure exactly what I was expecting. I guess I was thinking this would be a heavily fruit flavored cup. It is not.

The taste is a dusty dry spiciness that is neither astringent nor bitter. It has a deep but gentle earthiness that lets you know it is pu'erh. There is also a background note of tangerine/orange zest.

This first cup isn't particularly sweet on its own so I added sweetener to see what happens. It does not bring out any new flavors but it does make more space for what is present. Just take it easy. It gets very sweet very quickly. At this point I think this would make a great iced tea. I did not attempt it.

The second cup was a nearly four minutes. At first, while the cup was really hot, I thought the dry spiciness had disappeared. Once the cup cooled to a comfortable to me temperature the taste had returned to nearly identical to the first.

This is not a pu'erh of great complexity and depth but at the price, I don't think it is trying to be. What you are getting is an interesting everyday sipper. I think this would be a fun one to play with by adding various homegrown herbs and see if you could com up with an interesting blend. I have some chocolate mint and some lemongrass and one or the other just might find their way into the rest of this sample.

You can find 3 Leaf Tea Aged Tangerine Pu'erh here.

I contacted 3 Leaf Tea and asked about this tea. When you order, you do indeed get an entire tangerine filled with pu'erh. That makes this an even sweeter deal at the current $2.50 price.

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