Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Of Personal Notes and 2004 Willow Grove Shu

Today I received a much anticipated delivery from Verdant Tea.  About two weeks ago I've ordered my very first pu'erh tea.  Never had it before, never tasted it, I couldn't wait to try it out.  I've read so many different reviews of various pu'erhs, the good and the bad and the more I read the more I wanted to get in the club.  You know, the club of people who know what pu'erh is all about.

For those of you who don't know what pu'erh tea is, there is an awesome Wikipedia article on pu'erh tea with all the details one can handle.

Verdant Tea's selection was not the largest at the moment. I don't know all the ins and outs of the pu'erh tea but apparently they are waiting for the new stock to come in.  Never the less, I've ordered Tea Trail 2004: Willow Grove Shu 50g, and a sample of Mt. Banzgang Farmer's Cooperative '03 Sheng.  I also received a complimentary sample of Flowering Green Jasmine tea.  I have never brewed flowers before and I just can't wait to do it.  Thank you Verdant Team!

The box was neatly packaged and included a personal note from the staff.  I thought that was such a nice touch! :)

I waited until after dinner to open the shu and steep a pot of it.  I didn't want to be rushed.  I wanted to savor and enjoy the moment.

The aroma of the tea was very delicate, mild, a bit musky and sweet.  The leaves were clumped in chunks and very dark in appearance.  Definitely did not look like any other tea that I've seen.

I wanted to make sure I steep this one correctly so I followed the Western brewing instructions from Verdant Tea website.  I rinsed the leaves first at 208F and then steeped the tea at 205F for 3 minutes.  I steeped in the glass teapot because I don't have a dedicated yixing teapot yet.

While brewing, this pu'erh was almost trying to tell a story.

The aroma of the steeped tea was very woody.  Actually, the moment I smelled this pu'erh and took a sip, I was thrown back in memory lane to the mushroom picking trips I used to take with my grandpa when I was little.  Every time I took a sip I had this flashback.  All of a sudden I was seeing myself in the deep forest, picking mushrooms and being surrounded by pine trees.  That was quite a time travel! :D

Back to the tea.  The liquid color was gorgeous deep reddish brown and it was crystal clear.  The taste was full bodied, mild, delicate and pleasant.  I could smell and taste the woods and the pine and there was this ever slight astringency that started developing towards the end of every sip but which disappeared before the sip was over.  I can say with confidence that I very much enjoyed this delicious and special tea.

You might think, this is it but this shu wasn't done with me yet.  As I was sitting and sipping my tea, all of a sudden I was hit by a head rush.  I heard about this before but totally forgot and it took me by a surprise.  It was not bothersome but I definitely felt different.  This is some tea!

I gave the tea two steeps, second time I brewed it for 3 minutes as well.  To my surprise, after the second steep, the tea was darker and stronger.  Still very earthy, woody and full body.  I have never seen a tea getting stronger with subsequent steeps, this was the first.  Unfortunately, it was getting late in the evening and I couldn't continue with steeps.  Next time I will steep it earlier in the day and continue steeping until the flavor is gone.  This is definitely a lot of tea... It packs a punch.

Steeping temperature: 205F

Steeping time: 3 min

Steeped in: glass teapot



  1. This sounds like a wonderful tea to enjoy on a rainy afternoon, XOXO