Puerh #2 from Hou De â€“ this is the 1995 8582 cake they sell. They actually charge more for this than the 7542. Letâ€™s see how this goes.
Looks like Rosetta Stone
Dry leaves: very solid, hard pressed. You can tell by the way it looks that itâ€™s quite compressed, which would mean, among other things, that it ages slowly. Compared with the 7542 yesterday, which was very loose, this oneâ€™s hard. I had to break this piece apart using a good bit of force in order to get the right amount for my pot. Yesterdayâ€™s tea just peeled off.
Because of the hardness of the piece, and the way it has been broken for me, I couldnâ€™t peel off layers before it put it in the pot because I couldnâ€™t get a good handle on it. So I dumped it in, gave it a rinse, then peeled off layers. Not surprisingly, even after the rinse, the inside of the piece was completely dry. If I didnâ€™t do this, Iâ€™ll be drinking successive, weak brews instead of using all the leaves for one brew. I really need to buy a good puerh knife.
Ah, after the second rinse I can clearly smell the ubiquitous camphor when I opened the pot.
First infusion: The teaâ€™s still warming up, so itâ€™s a bit weak. I can already tell this is obviously less aged than the 7542 yesterday, not surprisingly. Comparatively, it is more sweet than bitter. A bit of the raw flavour in the back.
Second infusion: Hmmm, much stronger. After drinking a few sips… The first noticeable sign of cha qi is showing up, with me sweating down my back. The smell is of sweetness. I think I might’ve put in a tad too much tea and left it in too long, because it came out slightly astringent. Less time next steep.
Third infusion: The sweetness is more pronounced, and has an earlier onset than the 7542 one which only shows when youâ€™re done drinking. Itâ€™s very strong, and itâ€™s sweeter without the bitterness. The flavours taste… like… Hmmm, I don’t know how to describe this. Paper? Paper tastes a little like this, I think. There’s that smell of camphor, but not a lot of the taste of camphor. Iâ€™m done with the 3rd infusion, and I am still tasting the sweet aftertaste in the back of my mouth. Itâ€™s quite strong.
Fourth infusion: It’s gotten a little more medicinal, and in my first cup, a slight hint of acidity. Thereâ€™s a camphor-like aftertaste. The sweetness is more subdued, taken over by a more woody aroma.
Fifth infusion: Colour wise is similar to the fourth. The camphor taste is showing up stronger, and I think the sweetness has definitely faded now. Still a slight sourness if I swirl it around.
Sixth infusion: Tastes similar to the fifth. There seems to be something else that showed up, but Iâ€™m not sure what it is.
Seventh infusion: I think I added a little more leaves than I thought I was â€“ the compression (I guess especially since itâ€™s in the center?) made it harder to gauge how much I was using.
Eighth and beyond: similar to before, but I’m letting it steep longer. It has lasting power, and lingers on. Actually, I’m still drinking it right now, infusion #11. Steeping time is now into the 10 minute zone, but it’s still coming out nicely.
I like this much better than the one I had yesterday. Is it solely due to the fact that I added a bit more leaves? I don’t think it is. The aroma and tastes are more complex. While I don’t exactly find the fruity flavours that their website claims (perhaps the slight acidity is what some call “guosuan” or fruit acidity), it is more complex and more changing than what I had yesterday. Will I pay $39 more for a cake of this over the 7542 from yesterday? Yes, no doubt about it. Will I pay $160 for a cake of this? Hard to say. I think I am too poor as a student, arg.