Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Teavivre: Fengqing Arbor Tree Ripened Puerh Cake Tea 2010, A Tea Review

I had quite the spider related adventure yesterday, sitting at my desk I noticed a leggy specimen scuttling up the curtain, so I snagged a jar and popped it in. Turns out I had no idea what this spider was, it had legs like a crab spider and the body of a baby fishing spider and the coloring of a fishing spider. I was stumped so I posted photos on facebook which made my mom and grandmother worried it was a brown recluse (I live in the Brown Recluse Belt apparently, yikes) and I was pretty sure it wasn't (what with it being black and gray and not matching in other aspects) but to be sure I posted photos of it on Bug Guide, a great place to get mystery buggies and arachnids identified. They were able to ID him as the Running Crab Spider (I knew those legs looked crabby!) from the family Philodromidae. I think that my basement lair will be seeing a lot more spiders as it warms up.

Today's tea only has one thing in common with spiders, they both are found in trees. Fengqing Arbor Tree Ripened Puerh Cake Tea 2010 is made from the leaves of arbor trees that are 50-100 years old, I find that pretty awesome. Hailing from the Puerh home of Yunnan, China, this tea was picked in 2008 and given a nice dry storage for two years. The aroma of these compressed leaves has a great blend of loam, wet pine wood, and leather. There is a sweetness about the leaves that resembles sap, specifically pine sap, and a touch of caramelized sugar. I think my favorite thing about Puerh tea is how they seem to frequently remind me of forests, this one has a forest floor quality.

Once the tea is given a double rinse (first time I have ever done that) and steeped the aroma is much sweeter with notes of caramelized sugar and molasses with warm woody quality and a finish of loam. The liquid also has a sweet quality with notes of cocoa and molasses, and finishes on a warm loam and earthy notes.

The first steeping starts off quite strong with a mix of earthiness and loam. The midtaste is like leather and a hint of pine wood. The finish is molasses like and has a sweet aftertaste. This tea has a very smooth start and is quite tasty.

The aroma of the leaves for the second steeping is sweet and loamy, there is a tiny hint of mushroom at the finish really tying in the forest floor imagery in my head. The liquid also is quite loamy but it also has notes of pine wood and leather. The taste is quite strong, rich leather and loam with a warm finish of pine sap that leaves a lingering sweetness in the mouth.

For the third steep the aroma of the leaves is all loam all the time, it is very foresty and quite nice. The liquid however is mostly pine themed, with a blend of wet pine wood and pine needles. The taste of this steep has a bit of bitterness, a bitter earthiness to be exact, but it fades to loam pretty quickly. The aftertaste is sweet and piney.

I should apologize, according to Teavivre's website this tea can be steeped up to eleven times, but I only got to four because yours truly decided to leave the tea lair for a snack and then promptly got distracted and then fell asleep. I was going to start all over and redo the steepings today, but with my throat being so sore I worry I could not do it justice. The aroma of the leaves is much the same as the previous steeping, as is the aroma of the liquid. The taste however has much stronger pine qualites giving it a woody sweetness that is fantastic. I have become rather enamored of Puerh tea that tastes like a pine forest and strongly recommend this tea if you are a fan of all things pine. I can certainly see this tea lasting for much longer.

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