From time to time I like to relax by browsing tea on eBay and looking for anything unique, imported or cheap. A few months ago I found a company called Royal Tea Bay situated in China that sells a large variety of different teas at a reasonable price. I was lucky enough to win a Yunnan Aged Puer Tea Cake 100g from the company for less than £3 shipped (RRP is £6.18).
A little time passed before receiving the cake but it finally arrived in perfect condition. I had a Pu Erh day yesterday and enjoyed it so much that I might have one today too. Makes it the perfect time to review this cake.
Here is a link to the item for sale on eBay – http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Yunnan-Aged-Puer-Tea-Blending-Cooked-Tea-Cake-P076-3-5oz-100g-Super-Mellow-/170873592341?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item27c8dc1a15
This is the information given by the company for this particular cake:
This kind of tea is made of sun dried green tealeaves of Yunnan big leaves species treated by fermenting process of Menghai tea region. They are mixed 2006 year aged tea with 2009 year aged tea and stored in Clean Kunming dry warehouse.
Once the package is opened and the cake fully revealed I can note it contains a mixture of dark brown leaves, medium brown leaves and golden tipped leaves. The combination gives the cake a shiny, reflective appearance in places. The leaves have an earthen, musky wood and smoky scent albeit on the subtle side for a Shu (Ripe) Pu Erh.
I have pried 10g of tea using my cake awl/knife and placed it into my Yixing teapot which is currently being seasoned with Shu Pu Erh. My Yixing teapot holds roughly 370ml, for the purpose of this steep I shall be using approximately 170ml-200ml.
Brew Guide – Fill teapot 1/4 to 1/3 full with tea leaves. Steep tea leaves in hot water at 100°c for 1 minute for the first and second brewing. – Taken from the items sale page.
I shall use this guide for the sake of this review and my first time preparing this tea.
First Steep – 1 minute
Mahogany in colour with a smoky, musky yet sweet wooden aroma. Flavour is very smoky and rich like velvet with notes of wood, clay, damp earth, musk and sweet straw. The smoke is definitely the most dominant factor in terms of scent and flavour.
Second Steep – 1 minute
Flavour is still very smoky but the sweetness has also increased. Still of medium strength overall and the wood, clay, damp earth and musk are still present.
Third Steep – 2 minutes
A little darker in colour now and it resembles soy sauce. The smoke is still dominant but the sweetness is toned down from the previous steep. Now the second dominant flavour is the damp earth and it remains very rich and also a little dry.
Fourth Steep – 2 minutes 30 seconds
Holding it’s flavour nicely so far, remaining heavily smoky, damply earthen and rich. The sweetness however is almost now non existent and the after taste is becoming increasingly dry.
Fifth Steep – 3 minutes 30 seconds
This is still holding up very nicely, rich and strongly smoky but the sweetness, clay and damp earth have been lightened quite drastically. The musk and dryness remains at equal strength which gives the Pu Erh enough flavour to be pleasant.
Sixth Steep – 4 Minutes
Much lighter in colour now than the third steep. The flavour is very mild now even in comparison to the previous steep. The smoke is still present but toned down from what it initially was and any other flavours are hard to detect.
Seventh Steep – 5 minutes
Extremely mild with subtle hints of smoke and wood. There is also a slight sour astringency which was not present with any previous steep.
This was a nice smoky shu that remained consistent throughout most of the steeps. For the retail price this is a nice every day Pu Erh and suits the Autumn months very well due to it’s smoky nature. This cake has been blended and stored very well and may be one that I will re-purchase in the future.