[from an email to corax. posted by permission.]
Wenshan Super Premium Loose leaf Pu'erh
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.
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.