I drank some of the Jabbok loose puerh today. The claim, when I bought it, was that it is 30 years. It didn’t really look 30 years, nor did it really taste like what I normally thought of as a 30 years tea, but since it was cheap, and it was the last little bit they had left, I snapped it up anyway.
Last time I tried it, I thought the aroma was quite impressive, even though the tea itself was not particularly stunning. This time though, I noticed something else, namely bitterness. The tea has a bitter base to it in the taste that I couldn’t quite explain and I couldn’t really get rid of despite the many infusions I had of the tea. I probably drank a total of 15-20 infusions of this thing, and the bitterness persisted to the end. It wasn’t a nasty, overwhelming bitterness, but it was there and it was obvious. At some points, I wondered if I were tasting red tea (aka black in English usage). Something in the taste and the aftertaste reminded me of that. Mostly, it tasted like puerh, but there are notes in the tea that makes me think twice.
The sheer number of infusions that the tea lasted would say that this is not a typical red tea, because otherwise it wouldn’t last so long. Then again, I did use a good amount of tea….
If you look at the wet leaves, the colour looks fine
And some of the leaves still exhibited a green tint
One possibility is that red tea was purposefully mixed in. The other is that maybe somehow the tea’s kill-green process wasn’t complete or thorough enough, and oxidation kept taking place (is this even possible?). If it were only stored poorly (say, next to a big bag of red tea) I don’t think the tea would’ve gotten the bitterness from that stuff, but it is rather bitter. Or, perhaps, the age is simply not nearly as high as claimed. I never did really believe the age anyway, especially given the light colour of the brew and the way the leaves look.
I’m not sure what to make of this tea. I still have a few samples worth of it, so I can give it a try again. Maybe next time I should brew it in a gaiwan and see what shows up. Better yet, I should probably drink a dianhong tomorrow to compare it against, and see what I can find in the taste….