|"This definitely didn't need any more time than three minutes. It colored a dark brown in no time at all."|
When I think of pu-erh - particularly shou (or cooked) pu-erh - "sunshine" doesn't automatically spring to mind. The post-fermented, earthy, mud-colored tea gives one a feeling of damp soil, not frolicking on a nice day. That's not to say I was pre-judging this blend - far from it - it was just an unusual dichotomy, especially given the ingredients.
Rounding out the soot-like pu-erh base were orange peel, freeze-dried raspberries, cornflower blossoms, and natural flavors. The orange peels were obvious, resembling curled wood shavings. Cornflowers were obvious in their blues. Raspberry pieces were small-cut clumps of off-brown in the mix; difficult to discern from the pu-erh leaves. As for aroma...well...like Joy's Shnozberry blend, I couldn't make heads or tales of it - equal parts fruity, minty, and mystery.
Joy's Teaspoon's brewing instructions had a broad range - a steep temperature of 176-194, and a time of two-to-three minutes. I had no idea what end of the spectrum to choose, so I middle-fenced it at 180F for two-and-a-half minutes, 1 rounded teaspoon of leaves in an 8oz cup.
This definitely didn't need any more than three minutes. It colored a dark brown in no time at all. The aroma was usual pu-erh earthiness, but with the added citrus-berry botanicals, the scent transitioned to something chocolaty. And - of course - the flavor. What to say...
I remember seeing a little Jim Carrey movie called "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". I was skeptical at first that Carrey could do a turn in a serious, if still whimsical mind-"fudge" of a movie. It surpassed expectations. Same with this pu-erh. It was earthy but somehow developed wings to surpass my preconceived notions. And, yet, I still have no clue how to identify said taste. My cup runneth over.
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