When I began writing this blog I had a rough plan for how the different sections and tea varieties would be separated. In my mind there were three types of tea; black, green and white and my blog posts would be nicely divided between them.
I was wrong. There are two more types of tea which I knew next to nothing about. There’s Oolong, a tea I had heard of but never tasted, and Pu Erh, a tea I had never heard of and certainly never tasted. Even the pronunciation was a complete unknown, in the end I settled for a kind of Northern sounding statement of mock fanciness (think ooh err). I’m sure I’m wrong but I’m sticking with it!
So on to the tea. After a bit of reading I learned that Pu Erh is quite different to all the other types of tea. The tea leaves are fermented and aged to make what the Chinese call a black tea, (not the same as what Westerners call a black tea, confusing I know) which gives the tea a much richer and, fuller taste. It’s known for it’s earthiness or what I frequently describe as tea-y flavour, and has a deep red as its distinct, trademark colour.
The exact tea I was sampling was another from Adagio called Pu Erh Hazelberry. It had a base of Pu Erh but then had added flavours of hazelnut and top notes of strawberry. On opening the pack the scent that met me was an unexpected blend of rich earthiness and sweetness from the strawberry. It didn’t excite as much as some of the previous tea scents from my tea adventures but, undeterred, I pressed on.
Apart from being bamboozled by processes of oxidization and fermentation, my frankly far too brief research into the best practice for drinking Pu Erh tea proved fruitless. So, undeterred, I steeped the leaves for four or five minutes and added my default spot of milk. I know that brewing times are meant to be slightly more precise but my cat, Alfie, was in play mode and I got a little distracted.
On first taste, I quite enjoyed it. The rich base notes had a warm, woodiness to them with the sweet strawberry finish taking the edge off it slightly. As I continued to drink though, the sweetness seemed to almost dominate and became much more the primary flavour. I found it a slightly confusing taste experience, not having sampled anything with this complex flavour combination before. Not entirely unlikeable, but not the most pleasant either. I couldn’t help but think that maybe a fruit tea fan would enjoy this a lot more than I was doing.
Simply put, I don’t think this is the tea for me. This hasn’t put me off ordering more of the previously unknown Pu Erh tea group though as it was the inclusion of the strawberry that brought on my indifference to it. Maybe it’s my uncultured tea palette which is lacking the necessary tasting skills, or maybe I should have paid more attention to making my tea right instead of playing with my cat. Whatever the reason though, next time I think it’ll be a plain, unadulterated Pu Erh tea on the sampling menu.
Have you tried Pu Erh? Do you have any advice or recommendations for me? Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.