Readers will know that I drink less raw pu erh compared to ripe pu. Reason being my stash of raw are relatively new about 5+yr old on the average. I found that new raw pu erh cakes though, perfectly fine to drink when new, does taste much better with aging and the taste is less harsh on the tongue (some people says it caused an upset tummy if they drank too much newer raw pu).
It was an article in a tea magazine, "Tea Art Magazine" (see blog 20 May 2011) that a review of some pu erh tea had the review panel confused over the oolong-like taste of the pu erh being sampled. In one of my tea purchases with Yunnan Sourcing, the proprietor Scott had included some samples of his in-house cakes and one of the samples was a 2009 "Ai Lao Jue Se". This was a 100% Ai Lao mountain pu erh tea. I made a brew of this tea and the results was, to me, a floral like scent with a nice flowery sweet finish. The brew had a light oolong tea characteristic. Most importantly, it did not had the harsh finish on my tongue which I had associated with new raw pu. Nice.
I did some homework and these are my findings. Most of the new raw pu erh that has a slightly harsher finish are those raw pu erh that is a blend of pu erh leaves. Pu erh tea that is not a blend but comes and harvested from a single area or region is called single estate pu erh. The taste of this brew tend to be more drinkable, more floral like in the aroma and more pleasant in terms of mouth feel. I would like to qualify the previous statement as I have only tasted less than 6 single estate teas so far, in my findings for this blog. Popular pu erh recipes 7542 and 8582 are examples of pu erh that is a blend of pu from different regions of Yunnan. My teafriend, auhckw in Malaysia told me that single estate pu erh can be more expensive compared to the popular blends and there is a following of tea drinkers that drink and store single estate tea in Malaysia.
When you buy your tea, whether single estate or blend - new or aged.......sample the tea and make a decision based on your preference. Will single estate or blends age better.....I cannot tell you which tea would be better but can assure you with proper storage your pu erh will develop its own unique aged taste and aroma.
I found this 2005 cake at a local tea shop and from the wrapper, this stone pressed cake is from Ai Lao mountains. This tea has the same tea aroma and taste characteristics as the Ai Lao sample I mentioned earlier but it is more mellow overall - aftertaste stayed longer in the mouth. The tea did however gave me a sweaty sensation which lasted about a minute after drinking 2 teapots of this tea. A very interesting tea....quite refreshing actually.
Hi Wilson, I have an Ai Lao Shan cake that had an additional processing step called "yao qing" - basically shaking the withered leaves to bruise them before frying into maocha. This step comes from oolong tea production process and is not usually used in puer production. On top of that, the fried leaves are dried at night instead of under direct sunlight, making for an interesting puer with oolong influences. I will share a sample with you!
Scott's 2002 Ai Lao mini-cake is also good...if you let it air out (very smoky for such an old tea). I haven't tried the one you mentioned, but I will now :) Mr. Urchin, oolongized puer...interesting. I would love a taste of that, as well ;)
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