This is the first loose-leaf pu-erh I am writing about. Shu pu-erh has a relatively shorter history as the accelerated fermentation technique was only invented in 1970ies. Shu pu-erhs made pu-erh drinking more affordable to many and they are not as collectable as sheng pu-erhs that are naturally fermented against time.
Although pu-erh tea is mostly available in a compressed form (such as cake or brick), sometimes it is also possible to find loose-leaf pu-erh. On some occasions, pu-erh tea is aged in loose-leaf form for years before they are compressed into forms that are easier to transport. Perhaps the advantages of loose-leaf pu-erh are that 1) the fermentation is faster if stored correctly (more leaves get in touch with air); 2) the observation of the quality of leaves is more possible.
While I did not have much information about this tea I bought, I came to think that it could be Gong Ting pu-erh due to its appearance, including the loose-form. However, taste-wise despite its age this tea did not offer delicate flavours. I tasted a lot of earthiness but no bitterness. Considering the previous pu-erhs I wrote about (such as this gong ting or this Yiwu shu pu-erh) which were younger, I did expect a more mature flavour but it was not there.
This tea was not sold in a package hence I have no way to verify its age. I have to go with the seller’s description. It is a 15-year-old shu pu-erh which is a decent tea. Perhaps not aged in perfect conditions.
Enjoy your cuppa!
Type: Dark tea
Harvest time: 2005
Leave colour: Dark brown/red
Liquor colour: Bright dark red
Tea aroma: Earthy
Tea taste: Full-bodied, earthy and malt
Steeping/brewing: Unlike other pu-erhs, you should not use boiling water which may scorch the tender leaves. Try to wait a couple of minutes after boiling water and even so try not to pour the water directly on the leaves. Steep for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. 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: 30 years or more, if stored correctly (to improve shelf life store the sealed tea leaves in a dry, dark place with low temperatures)