Sunday, January 22, 2006

Michael Plant on Wenshan Super Premium Looseleaf Puer, from Yunnan Sourcing LLC

[from an email to corax. posted by permission.]

Wenshan Super Premium Loose leaf Pu'erh

Harvest: 2005

195 degrees, 6 grams of dry tea, 5 ounces of water. Steeps after rinse in seconds: 10, 20, 30, 40, on up to 600. (Brewed in a gaiwan.)

Deep in the woods the clapboard house burned down, charred to a crisp in the dead of a cold winter’s night, snow on the ground and mist in the air. The scene smells of destruction, but for the most part it’s the clean smell of charcoal, not quite tarry, chastened by the snow.

Now you’ve got a good idea what to expect from this tea: A wood charcoal aroma, almost tarry, from the gaiwan lid and from the liquor, a bit of vegetal from the leaves. Taste is of a charred wood fruit. There is astringency. It’s balanced and consistent from steep to steep. Aftertaste clean, bright, open, expansive, fruit and astringency predominating and even recurring minutes later in the back of the throat, especially in later steeps. There is a touch of the bitter (sour?) here too, not to be confused with astringency, which it complements. I took the tea to eight steeps. It had lightened toward the end, although I petered out before it did.

Minor Issues, and recommendations:
The loose leaves are big and on long stems that soften in the water. Liquor color ranged from straw to deep yellow. Experiment around with parameters, but expect more finish and aftertaste in a pushed steep, one brewed longer and/or hotter. I let the temperature rise and fall within limits, and found this tea giving and easy.

General Impressions:
This is a tasty and pretty tea, a surprising combination of tastes and aromas, not cigar-like, not smokey beyond clean charcoal. It’s a tea for right now, as loose leaf Pu’erhs are poor candidates for aging. I’m impressed. I’m very impressed.


Joe Kubera said...


What a coincidence; I just happened to brew this up this morning, and make my first notes. Your notes are far more extensive than mine, however.

I used about 8g of tea to 8 oz. water at 175-180F. I used a yixing pot reserved for puerh.

Smoky, yes, certainly. I get astringency and must, too. What is notable for me is HOW CLEAN the taste of this tea is. To quote Lipton's ad agency, "the brisk tea." It's clear and bracing. None of the "murk" of much puerh, not that that's a bad thing, but you sure do see the contrast in this tea.

I got at least five steeps, but the first and second were 45 seconds, and the brewing times just went up from there.

I like this tea a lot! I need to see what happens when water is around 200.

With a tea like this I appreciate this el cheapo yixing with the extremely wide mouth. The long leaves slip in with no breakage, and it's good for ungainly puerh chunks as well.

Anonymous said...

I have been drinking this tea as an "everyday" tea for a while now, with a few leaves in the bottom of a tea cup (no fancy brewing at work). It has a clean taste, with some unusual notes that I've never seen in any other tea. A few leaves will last most of the day with water poured on top.

A tea that goes a long way with a taste that seems quite different from other pu-erhs I've tasted. More-ish.