Recently I had the pleasure to order a pile of tea from Yunnan Sourcing, a company I’ve admired for a long while but from whom I had never ordered. This chronicles my first tea from that order, a 2005 Bo Wen “Yue Chen Yue Xiang” Ripe Pu-erh.
This is a 12 year-old Ripe (Shou) Puer, and as such my expectations are that it would have an earthy sweet flavor with dark liquor and ideally a pleasant mouth-feel. That said, 12 years is still barely middle-aged for a tea like this and while I don’t expect as much nuance from a Shou as I would a Raw (Sheng) Puer, this should only improve in the coming decade.
I used 8 grams of leaf for my pot. The cake was very easy to break apart, which is satisfying to me. Having to chisel into a cake with a jack-hammer is never a fun experience. In the pot, the aroma of the warmed leaves was astoundingly sweet, but not at all overwhelming. It was tempered by a gentle scent of old parchment and mushrooms. Overall a good sign.
For each infusion I steeped the leaves approximately 45-50 seconds. That’s a little longer than I normally would infuse a Puer like this, but any less time and the broth looked much too thin. While an inky blackness isn’t always desirable, I like my Puer to have some color to it, and with the extra wait I was not disappointed.
The dusky red liquor was quite malty and creamy on the tongue. The texture and flavor reminded me of nothing less than marshmallows, yet with a subtle hint of old parchment aroma following behind.
After a few similar infusions, I’d characterize this tea as comfortable. Its notes are not overly dramatic, and the flavor is mostly sweet rather than old tasting, but the thickness is undeniable. It’s neither cloying nor dusty, and I think it will be a delightful sipping Puer.
Sometimes when I describe buying a brick or cake (Bing) of Puer, people are surprised at the cost. This one was not expensive, and moreover, you’re getting quite a lot of tea! Just some quick math: a 350 gram Bing for $35 USD, at 8 grams of leaf per pot, is about $0.85 USD per pot. One pot makes maybe an average of 8 infusions, so that’s about $0.10 USD per cup. And this is for a 12 year-old tea! A good deal if I ever drank one. So go out there, fellow tea lover, and get yourself some old Puer (but leave some for me!).