Monday, March 24, 2014

Teavivre, Fengqing Ripened Tribute Pu-erh Cake Tea 2013

Teavivre Description:
This Ripe Pu-erh Cake Teavivre choose is from the representative Pu-erh production area Fengqing. Fengqing is the original place of the world-wide famous Dian Hong Tea. And it is also a classic place of Yunnan Pu-erh. It is a place in Lingcang which is one of the four famous Pu-erh production areas. The taste of Fengqing Pu-erh is mellow and sweet, deeper than Pu-erh in other production area. And it usually has the flowery flavor of Dian Hong Tea. The tea leaves used to make this Ripened Tribute Pu-erh Cake Tea are all pure leaves hand-picked from 50 to 100 years old Large-leaf Arbor Tea Trees.

Sample provided by Teavivre

My Review:
Today I will be reviewing this puerh tea from Teavivre. It is a shu or ripened puerh, also sometimes called cooked. This is a recent production method invented in 1973. Ripe Puerh is made from Green maocha with an additional step of wet piling.

One thing of note from the Teavivre website that is not mentioned in the description above is that the leaves for this tea were picked in 2006 though the production date is 2013. Another item that caught my interest was the price. A cake of this is $42. I initially thought that is a lot but then I realized that is for a 400 g cake. That is about $10.50 for a 100 g or roughly 3 1/2 oz. That is pretty good if this is a tasty tea. You can also get a 20 g sample for $3. I always recommend trying a sample first to judge for yourself.

I opened my sample and took a whiff. It did not reveal much. It sort of has the aroma of Chinese black tea. The sample was mostly one chunk with some smaller pieces that had broken off. The label did not mention a rinse so I placed the entire 10 g sample into my press and added 12 oz of boiling water. The steep time was around 4 minutes while my computer booted up.

The brew is very dark and looking of molasses. I wish I hadn't let the computer distract me as around 2 minutes was probably more than sufficient. The wet leaf has some barnyard aroma with sort of a cinnamon note.

The sip has a lot of a rough edges to it because I oversteeped. It is not bitter or astringent just rough. The taste is leather and wood. I added sweetener trying to calm it down. It helped but this is still way more intense than intended and it is all my fault. Wow, I'll do better on the second cup, I hope.

Second cup at 30 seconds! It is still very dark. I wanted to go with even a shorter steep but my the press did not want to pour. Sometimes the screen gets tea resin built up on it and it creates sort of a tea vacuum. I pushed the plunger and broke the vacuum but 15 seconds would have been more what I was shooting for. While it looks like this review is plagued or something, it is really me being an amateur.

The tea is much more drinkable now. It is leather and wood with some cinnamon notes. It is still more potent than I intended. This is all my fault since I was not taking proper care of my tea brewing equipment.

Day 2. Same leaf. For my third steep I began by thoroughly scrubbing the screen and plunger assembly of my press. It still needs an overnight soak but it will work for today. I heated 16 oz of water to boiling and steeped for 15 seconds. This leaf has already produced 24 oz and been through 4 1/2 minutes of steeping abuse, yet the brew is now a beautiful burgundy wine color. I finally got it right.

The wet leaf still has a barnyard scent but there is nothing like that present in the cup. Instead I am getting a strong sweet note of honey. In addition it has a nice leather like taste. I am also still detecting what I would call wood. When properly prepared this has no rough edges. There is no bitterness or astringency. I have two highly drinkable cups from this steep and I am sure it will go more, possibly many more.

I am glad I survived my incompetence and stuck with this one until I got it right. Turns out this is a very nice puerh.

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