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365 Challenge > Day 183 - Mystery Sheng Pu-erh from 1990s

With this review, the first half of the 365 teas challenge has been completed, and the second part has started. I don’t know how the time flew or how I managed to continue this challenge under some difficulties.

I started this challenge on the 2nd of February 2020. Although, I was on holiday then in Cambodia I wanted to remember the date when this started, and I opted for the 02/02/2020. I had no idea what was expecting me then. It was the beginning of Covid-19, and it was not declared a pandemic yet. During my holidays, we found out that we could not go back to Beijing, where we are based. We did not know how long the ‘waiting’ game would be, so we took a taxi (to avoid a flight) to Bangkok from Siem Reap with the idea that we would receive a health care in case we are infected. We ended up staying in Bangkok for a month, and we still were not given the green light to go back to China. We decided to go to Turkey, my home country. Again, when we arrived in Istanbul, I like anyone had no clue about the scale of the pandemic crisis. I was unable to estimate how long I would need to stay there before I could go back home.

Luckily both in Thailand and Turkey, I was able to source local artisanal teas. I especially took advantage of the rich tisane culture in Turkey. Sourcing tea from elsewhere was a challenge. Not only because of Covid-19 but due to strict customs regulations in Turkey imposed on exported teas. However, I managed to receive packages from Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Poland. I was also expecting a package from Georgia, but it arrived after I left. I also had tremendous contributions from guest bloggers who reviewed teas that I’d not have any access to under the circumstances. I appreciate their support, and I love being part of an online tea community on Instagram.

I had no clue that I was going to stay in Istanbul for 4 months and a half. I was hoping to get back to China sooner so that I’d not have issues with sourcing tea samples. But only last week, we could make it here in Beijing which came with its own challenges. We are under quarantine in a hotel room and not being able to go out and taste teas outdoors, enjoy the summer is quite dull. However, I think that I was lucky to have this challenging going as it kept me motivated and calm during these difficult times. Being in the discipline of tasting a new tea every day, searching about and reviewing it as well as taking photos of it gave me strength. I started this journey to push myself to learn, which proved an excellent idea, and I’m grateful that I have another 6 months to keep exploring.

Sorry to keep talking about me, but I thought that this milestone deserved some background. If I am to speak about this sheng pu-erh, there is not much to say as I don’t know where it comes from, which year it was harvested precisely, where was it stored etc. As for its taste, I can tell you that it has aged well. It was very mellow and absent of strong bitter notes of a sheng pu-erh. It lingered on my tongue quite a bit, leaving behind a slight astringency, but this was a good thing. While the prevailing notes were unsurprisingly earthy and woody, there is something delicate about this tea. I almost inhaled a subtle aroma of meadow flowers coming from the depth of its beautiful dark amber liquor. I wish I could know more about this sheng!

Tea Profile:

Type: Pu-erh (Dark Tea)

Origin: Yunnan, China

Harvest time: 1990ies

Leave colour: Shades of dark brown with some visible fuzz

Liquor colour: Dark amber

Tea aroma: Earthy and woody

Tea taste: Medium-bodied with mellow start, slightly astringent finish and delicate aroma of meadow flowers

Steeping/brewing: Steep about 7 gr of leaves in 100 ml hot water (as close as you can get to 100°C) for about 10 seconds. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.

Shelf life: Up to 40 years or more.

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