I buy samples sized things a lot because it’s fun, and because it exposes me to different kinds of tastes. Oftentimes they are educational in one way or another, while other times they’re just…. bland and boring. That, and all the things people end up sending me, means a lot of oddities and small bags of tea that are left around to drink. It’s part of the fun.
Today’s another one of those “leftover bag of samples” day. This is a tea that is sold at an old tea store in Hong Kong, labelled simply as “Zhengshan”. It’s basically a very (and I do mean very) wet stored cake that was supposedly raw puerh when it was first made. It’s hard to tell for sure given the way the leaves are
These are some pretty hard little nuggets of tea. They’re not cha tou though.
I used up the remaining bag, maybe about 10g or so. The first infusion was particularly interesting — it had a very strong taste of Chinese almonds (which are apparently apricot seeds). I don’t know how a tea can acquire the taste of almonds… but here it is in unadulterated form. That in itself is quite interesting.
The tea, however, will probably scare any novice tea drinker by the way it looks
Yum. Some of you are probably thinking “you sure this is not cooked tea?”. I’m not 100% sure, to be honest, but the owner has no good reason to lie to me, since it’s not expensive at all. Other stuff that is priced higher he tells me are cooked, so it would be odd for him to try to lie to me about this particular tea. I do think, however, that this is tea so wet stored that it is effectively cooked over the years that it’s been in the storage (I think he said 10+).
After the almonds went away in 2 infusions, the rest of the tea tastes like very sweet, mellow, and rich puerh, but not really like a cooked tea. It doesn’t have that nasty cooked taste, and it also lasts much longer — this is what it looks like in maybe 12 infusions
It’s not a particularly lively tea. It doesn’t have a lot of qi. It doesn’t have that exciting factor that a well stored raw tea will have. But as a drink, I’d take this over any regular cooked puerh any day.
There are better offerings at that store, such as the broken Jiangcheng bricks, so there’s no good reason to buy this tea again. But for what it’s worth… it’s kinda fun. I think I’ll drink some more tomorrow morning when I get up, since I definitely haven’t exhausted it yet, so it’s being left alone in the pot for now.