|"A great find for someone who loves a vibrant, robust, cup."|
All pu'er is kin to green tea in that it is dried right after picking in order to "kill green," i.e., kill the enzymes that lead to oxidization. Unlike green tea though, the production of pu-erh allows a small amount of enzymes to live. Thus, pu'er tea undergoes a minor amount of oxidation. Some are pressed or packaged and sold at that point, and some are aged, like this three-year-old Mengku Zheng. (Ripe or "cooked" pu'er leaves undergoe a composting process, but that's another story.)
Appearance-wise, the leaves were flattened and colored a dull, gray-green. They smelled rather lemony in the package--an aroma that intensified when boiling water was added.
The flavor was as complex as any oolong, and satisfying as any black tea. It possessed fullness, fruity, muscatel notes, as well as dryness and astringency. Above all, it had all the smoothness and staying power associated with proper aging. The same leaves produced several hours of tea-drinking bliss.
Brewing pu'er, though, is for artists,(or gamblers.) If you don't want to invest in tiny clay tea wares, or pay careful attention to brew-times, you're taking your chances and most likely will over-brew this tea. Here is an excerpt of Canton's recommendations for brewing:
"A typical infusion sequence will be as follows: infusion number: 1 - 15 seconds, 2 - 12 seconds, 3 - 25 seconds, 4 - 40 seconds, 5 - 50 seconds and so on. A lot depends on the quality of your Puerh and the ratio of tea to water."
Serious tea aficionados would do well to read the full article on Canton's website by clicking the link below.
Sadly, Canton was sold out of the 2010 batch when I wrote this review. Like wine, though, pu-er gets better with age and the website had an array of older, (more expensive,) raw and cooked pu-ers to choose from. I recommend trying at least one. This one, in particular, was a 10.
— To purchase Canton Tea Co. 2010 Mengku Zheng Raw Pu’er, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.
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