Review of Fengqing Old Tree Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2013

8 of 104 of 53 of 573 of 100

This tea is the youngest raw Pu-erh that I've consumed to date. Like I'd expect, it is potent, but it's smoother and more drinkable than even some Pu-erh I've tried that has been aged by a few more years.

The dry leaf smells strongly vegetal, with tones of honey and camphor.

Brews a strong-flavored cup with a light color and clear liquor. Aroma is slightly smoky, suggestive of camphor and cinnamon, but also vegetal, especially suggesting celery and black mushrooms, with a hint of black pepper and clove. There's also a fleeting fruitiness, especially in the finish. Flavor bold, slightly bitter and also tangy and savory (umami). Medium-bodied, very smooth up front, but with a rather astringent finish, and causing somewhat of a peppery sensation in my mouth.

Smooth enough to drink as-is, but only if brewing it rather gently. I can see it aging well. I particularly would be hopeful that the camphor and astringency would diminish with age, as I found these factors were what limited me from brewing it more strongly.

Brewed a second cup that was nearly identical in character and strength to the first, perhaps even slightly stronger with a similar steeping time. I noticed the cinnamon tones a bit more in this cup. Leaves a pleasant but not overwhelming tingly sensation on the palate.

A third cup is beginning to get a little weaker, and required a much longer infusion. This cup had a nice aroma, but, using TeaVivre's recommendation of brewing the first cup for 5 minutes, was thin-bodied and watery. I made the first two cups shorter, and the third cup was much more flavor, and a fourth cup was even possible.

I found TeaVivre's brewing recommendations odd--this tea is very strong and I think the recommendations produced a cup far too strong for me, and then made the flavor give out too fast. I used much less leaf, significantly shorter steepings (starting with 2-3 min.), and had good results. Out of curiosity I tried experimenting a bit with brewing temperature, and I agree with TeaVivre that boiling water is the way to go. If the temp. is too low, not much flavor comes out.

This cake is excellent, and I'm impressed with how drinkable it is as-is, without aging. But it's on the expensive side for a cake that is not aged. It impressed me with its flavor and quality, but my intuition is that I could probably find cakes that I liked as much as this, for cheaper, so I would not be inclined to buy it at this price.

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