I anticipated that Puerh Special Grade, a loose leaf pu’er from TeaSource, would brew into a nice liquor after I smelled the intense sweet aroma of the dry leaf. I was not disappointed. In general, but especially in the initial steep, it was very malty, almost like graham crackers or Ovaltine. It opened up more through the third infusion, exhibiting a briny, seaweed-like character along with the sweet maltiness, but it was not at all salty. The character was something like a bonfire on the beach, with charcoal and burning caramel.
One of the notable aspects of this tea was its beautiful, rich color. The first time I made it I was not aware of quite how striking the color was because I used a serving pitcher that was made of yixing clay. It was pretty in the white porcelain lined cups, but in a subsequent brewing I used a glass pitcher, and was impressed with its bright reddish orange hue and sparkle. It was a sunny afternoon, and the tea shone nicely with the sun coming through the window and into the liquor.
Like many pu’er teas, this pu’er can stand up to very long steeps, which affects the number of flavorful steeps one can get from it. In each tasting that I did, I found the third steeping to be the most interesting and flavorful, and by the fifth it had dropped off considerably in its intensity.
The steeped cup has a lovely deep black/red color with a wonderful dark aroma. The liquor is very smooth and thick (almost brothlike), with great depth and richness to the flavor. It also has a slight sweet note, with no harshness or astringency.”