Adventures In Tea Tasting, Part One

This is going to be an occasional series, now that I’m getting back into my gongfu teas. For this one, I’m tasting puerh for the first time in a long while.

I’ve been hesitant to try puerh tea again, as previous experiences have been less than positive: I’ve either used too much tea, or the water was too hot, or I’ve let it steep for too long. However, someone on a gongfu group I’m a member of caught one of my posts and messaged me, offering me some samples to try. Naturally, I had to say yes! I mean, it’s tea!

Tea Encounter Puerh
This is an aged puerh from my friend at Tea Encounter. Feel free to browse the site, and let Tiago know that I sent you!

This is easily the oldest tea I’ve ever had the honour of brewing. As with most puerhs, this sample has been picked out of a large cake, so it needed breaking up a little.

Weighing Puerh
This is the strongest I tend to go with puerh. Other people will want more leaves than this. Weighing your tea is important – going by eye can make or break a tea experience (usually the latter)

Notes on the dry leaves:


There’s a good mix of leaves and buds here. On the nose I could detect aromas of wet, dark wood and autumn bonfires, with a slight note of the ocean. Right away, I knew I was going to enjoy this tea.

Wet smell:

The tea rinse brought out more woody tones, and more saltiness when I tested it for aroma. Even the rinse was a beautiful, rich gold in colour.


Puerh Liquor

This hit my senses like a freight train! If I closed my eyes I could easily picture myself on a beach in autumn, smelling an evening bonfire whilst tasting the salt air coming in from the ocean. This is in no way the heavy, overly smoky puerh experience that I was dreading; it’s light, refreshing and even wakes up the appetite. I would happily pair this with a light lunch: perhaps lightly grilled mackerel and a salad.

Tea experience:

I feel completely energised. This is good, as I suffer from ME and have been inordinately drowsy (and not in a good way) all this week. My mind feels clearer, and by the third infusion I couldn’t stop smiling – truly the mark of a good tea. I might even be a little tea tipsy.

Will I be saving my pennies for a cake of this tea? Absolutely. I can’t think of a nicer tea for the occasional treat!

So, that’s my take on the delicious, light, yet earthy 2003 Yuanjuitang Ban Zhang puerh tea. In future I shall be videoing my reviews for my Youtube channel. In the meantime, credit must go to the following people:

Tiago Costa, the proprietor of Tea Encounter.

Kate Dicey, for sharing my enthusiasm for gongfu cha.

Paul Rene Nichols, for sharing videos and showing me how to brew puerh and Get It Right.

Thanks for reading!

6 thoughts on “Adventures In Tea Tasting, Part One

  1. Oh wow. I’ve been wanting to try puerh tea and this post makes me want to run out and find some right now. What I find here may not be as good as this one, but still!

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