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tea desire pu’erh

January 8, 2010

I am a little hesitant to try this one. I have so many great, delicious teas in my stash that to pull out the one that smells like dirt and brew it is difficult. But I have heard so many great things about this tea. I have also heard that they can be really, really bad for some people. Regardless, I am going to explore the world of pu’erh a little bit more.

Pu’erh is an aged tea from China. It is often formed into cakes and aged in a cellar for years and years. As time goes by, the tea gets darker and the flavor more subtle and complex. Like wine, tea’s natural tannins soften with age, leaving most good quality pu’erh a smooth drinking tea, though an acquired taste it may be.

There are many health benefits attributed to drinking pu’erh. It is said to lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss, detoxify the liver, aid digestion and like other teas, is loaded with antioxidants.

The loose leaf pu’erh is a very deep green-brown. The leaves are hard and curly, you can definitely tell that this is an aged tea. It is a very intriguing tea. The initial nose is very earthy, a little bit of dirt, dust, and maybe dead wood. There is a green component to the fragrance, but you really have to be looking for it.

As I pour the boiling water over the leaves, I am surprised at how fast the water turns dark brown. The sweet, earthy, sea-weedy perfume is very apparent at this point. The aroma is not unpleasant, but not wholly appetizing. Still, though, I am very interested and wait patiently for the brew to steep.

The tea liquor is a deep amber brown. The first sip is surprising. Mostly the aromas tell you what the tea is going to taste like. Not so much in this case. I find it tastes like a strong green tea, but with more complexity. There is an earthy aspect to this tea, to be sure. And hints of leather and wood. This tea has a quick finish, and I detect somewhat of a salty sensation. But there is so much more going on in this cup. The flavor isn’t subtle, but it is not offensive in the least. There is no bitterness or tannins. I can see why this tea is often cited to be a “coffee-lover’s tea”, it is deep and rich on the palate.

Now, after tonight, I can finally say: “Bring on the pu’erh!” without any hesitation.

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