Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m still working on getting my camera fixed so I share a post with you from last summer. Enjoy!
I sit here quietly and sip my tea, the sounds of summer all around me – the faint buzzing of a lawn mower, the electric sound of the cicadas in the trees, the caw-caw of one crow to another as they fly over my house. As we enter the warm, hazy days of late summer, the fuschia impatiens dress my garden in their rich color.
In my cup this morning is a very dark tea, a China tea called Organic Pu-Erh 2nd Grade. Back in June, I wrote about the 1st grade here.
I steeped the leaves for 8 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water and, as you can see, the water quickly gets very murky on its way to becoming as black as night. Pu-Erh goes through a “composting” step during its processing. The leaves are piled into heaps, much like a compost pile, creating a heat in its core and transforming the leaves into this very unique tea.
Everything about this tea is so dark – the dry leaf, the wet leaf and the tea liquor after steeping. A rich, sweet, earthy aroma rises from my glass teapot as I remove the infuser basket.
I find that if I gaze at the tea liquor long enough, I can see a mulberry tinge around its edges. Can you see it?
The flavor is mellow and quite smooth, not as strong as its aroma. Characteristic notes of autumn leaf and forest floor mingle with a sweet molasses syrup flavor. I find myself enjoying it more and more with each sip.
While I was visiting my family in Michigan last month, we visited a quaint little village called Saugatuck, located on a river very near Lake Michigan. As we were strolling the shops, I came upon a pottery shop and purchased a few teabowls there. The artist’s name is Jeff Blandford and his business is called Volmod Ceramics. Voluptuous. Modern. Ceramic. He had some really cool pieces. As he was ringing my purchase, he told me that the teabowls I chose were created during a very creative time at the end of his student days at Michigan State University, over 3 years ago. So, I’d like to think that these lovely teabowls were sitting on the shelf patiently waiting for me to come along and bring them home to Massachusetts with me so I could enjoy many tea moments with them.
Until next week, dear tea friends…
“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.” ~Ivy Baker Priest
I love pu-erh teas. I’ve been drinking Upton’s “Wang” and “Celestial Tribute” for years now and just tried the Ancient Forest sheng pu-erh for the first time a few weeks ago.
I notice you use a very long steeping time. I used to do this with shou style pu-erh as well, but over the years I’ve reduced my steep time more and more to the point that I’m now doing a sort of modified “gongfu” style steeping — more or less instantaneous after an initial rinse — and this way I can get 6, 10, 15, 20 steepings from the same leaves depending on the exact variety.
You still get those “dark as night” cups on the second and third steeps, but the first steep and then the later steeps open a whole other set of more subtle flavors.
If you haven’t tired shorter steeps and multiple steeps, I would highly recommend it!
Another lovely post Karen, but I have to say Upton should buy you a new camera because your weekly posts are the best imaginable “advertising” imaginable! You could make a tea lover out of anyone.
Thanks for visiting and sharing your experience with Pu-Erhs, Jim. I’ll have to give that a try!
Thanks so much for your kind words, Kevin! Hmmm, now there’s a thought….;)