Liu An Gua Pian

3.5 / 5

I’ve been drinking a lot of black tea lately so time to mix it up and go back from some greens. I forgot how much I like green tea for the afternoon. It’s a great pick-me-up but won’t keep you up all night either.

For a green tea, this had a lot of flavor. It was a good transition from all of the puerh I’ve been drinking. It is grassy and sweet with a woody backbone that makes it stand out to me. It had a lot of deep, almost vegetable-like flavor.

Not bitter, a good aftertaste, I really enjoyed this tea a lot.

Tea Leaves: long, twisted, light grassy smell
Region: Liu’an City, Anhui province, China
Brewing: 185 degrees for 3-5 minutes
Purchased: Teavivre–  $2.50 for 10 grams

Al Reef Ceylon Premium Cardamom

4/5

Last week I reviewed my last sample of Pu-erh, so switching it up again starting this week. I received this tea as a Christmas present and am really enjoying it. I’ve never had cardamom outside of chai tea before so I was excited to try this. This is a really high-quality Ceylan tea with a large amount of cardamom flavor. The cardamom is citrusy with a spicy hint, reminds me a little bit of bergamot maybe, but definitely, it’s own unique flavor. It smells amazing both as leaves and when brewed, it’s almost worth making just to smell it. The Ceylon tea is extremely balanced, sweet and earthy in a way that plays very nicely with the spice.

Side Note: I tried to find somewhere online you could purchase this from but didn’t have any luck, I found it at a local specialty grocery store, that’s probably your best bet.

Tea Leaves: Very strong cardamom scent
Region: Sri Lanka
Brewing: 212 degrees for 2-5 minutes
Purchased: Locally at Super green market–  $15 for 14oz*

Fengqing Golden Buds Ripened Pu-erh Cake Tea 2013

3 / 5

Another ripened puerh, this one with some lighter “golden bud” tea. Very strong aroma – I smelled it as soon as the water hit the dry leaves. Dark, but not quite as dark as last weeks. Taste is earthy, very peaty. It also lacks the sweet scent and undertone that I liked last week. Overall a fairly dark but surprisingly mild puerh, puts it in a weird “not bad but nothing special” category for me.

Tea Leaves: Dry cake piece with lighter yellow leaves
Region: Fengqing, Yunnan, China
Brewing: 212 degrees for 5-8 minutes
Purchased: Teavivre–  $2.50 for 20 grams*

Ripened Cube Toucha Pu-erh Mini Brick (2006)

3.5 / 5

Another fun little mini-cake of ripened Pu-erh. I’ve been having so much of the raw pu-erh that it’s been a while since I had fermented pu-erh, and this is definitely what I think of when I think of Pu-erh. It has a pretty pungent smell, though not too overpowering and almost a little sweet smelling. (More likely, I’ve just gotten used to it.) It has a strong dark full-bodied earthy flavor. The aging definitely gives it a more mellowness and pleasant aftertaste.

It is a lot darker and stronger than the other toucha I tried last month, which was much lighter than I expected. This one could give coffee a run for its money in terms of robust flavor, but without the bitterness. I think this is probably now taking the top spot for me for an unflavored ripened puerh.

Tea Leaves: Very hard, dry little brick
Region: Yunnan, China
Brewing: 212 degrees for 5-8 minutes
Purchased: Teavivre–  $10.90 for 3.5oz*

10-year aged Raw Pu Erh Brick

3 / 5

I was excited to see what tea that has been aged 10 years tasted like. I mean, I’ve had some tea that’s sat around for a long time in my cupboard before, but nothing even close to this old. This is a “raw” Pu-erh, so it was picked, packed into a cake and left to sit in a special warehouse. If I had to pick one thing that the aging process adds I think it would be a subtle complexity. It’s not like most tea I try where I can pin down exactly what I am tasting right away. There was not the smell I associate with Pu-erh tea, it smelled almost sweet. It has a mildly sweet flavor, but with a hint of a woody aftertaste. Its a really pleasant cup to drink, very light and delicate.

Tea Leaves: Very dry little tea cake, crumbly
Region: Fengqing, Lincang, China
Brewing: 212 degrees for 3-5 minutes
Purchased: Teavivre–  $2.00 for 16g*

Reindeer Fuel

3.5 / 5

Since we are in the midst of the Holidays, I thought that this week would be a good one to take a break from puerh and review this tea. This was a one-off giveaway from Adagio that I had missed, but some of my friends were nice enough to give me some. It’s a fun tea, with a nice mint and cocoa flavor added to a black tea. Definitely mintier than I was expecting, but in a good way. It reminds me of a more mellow (and better) cocomint tea. It has a hint of ginger, although nothing too strong. A great tea for the holidays, especially when you get it free!

Tea Leaves: Lots going on, smells like cocoa nibs
Region: North Pole?
Brewing: 212 degrees for 2-5 minutes
Purchased: Gifted, and not available form adagio anymore – sorry!

Fuding Shou Mei White – 2011

4 / 5

I’m reviewing in the afternoon because I prefer white tea around that time of day, this is a ripened puerh, but starting with “white” tea. The leaves are very flat and broken up, the same color as the raw puerh I had the other day, but definitely broken into smaller pieces. I expected the aging to give it more intensity than normal white tea but it tasted pretty similar. It was sweet, mellow, with just a hint of grassiness. It does have a really sweet aftertaste that was a bit unique and quite pleasant, probably my favorite thing about it.

Tea Leaves: Flat dry sweet smelling tea cakes
Region: Fuding, Fujian China
Brewing: 203 degrees for 2-5 minutes
Purchased: Teavivre–  $5.50 for 11 grams*

Fengqing Ancient Tree Raw Pu-erh

3 / 5

Prior to my stop at crimson teas a few weeks ago, I thought that all puerh tea was fermented. Turns out, there are two kinds, one fermented and one just packaged and aged. This is my first time trying the “raw” puerh and it was a lot different. It had been packaged in 2014 according to the bag it came in, so it had aged for a little over four years when I tried it. For one, the bad smell is gone, and it was less oxidized than I was expecting, more like a green or maybe Oolong tea than what I think of when I think of puerh. The leaves were an interesting texture, really large whole leaves that kind of unfurled as I drank the tea. the flavor was good, grassy, a little woody maybe like a really well-balanced cup of green tea.

Tea Leaves: Whole leaves visible, but some stuck together in clumps
Region: Fenqing, Yunnan China
Brewing: 203 degrees for 3-5 minutes
Purchased: Teavivre–  $2.50 for 16 grams (two samples)*

Ripened Aged Pu-Erh Mini Tuocha

3.5 / 5

I was really excited to try this one, it is the first time I have seen a puerh tea cake up close. It was firmer than I expected, with the tea leaves almost flaking off in dry little chunks. When breaking it apart it retained the cake shape more than the individual leaves breaking apart like I was expecting. Another thing I found interesting was is sank to the bottom of the brewing cup almost immediately, and the water remained clear except for at the very bottom where the tea leaves were while it steeped.

Once brewed it was lighter in color than I thought it would be, more a medium red than a darker black. It definitely had the puerh scent, but it wasn’t too overwhelming. The flavor was really good, mellower than I had expected, it was earthy and woody. Definitely better than the Pu-Erh Dante I tried a few weeks ago. I did let it steep a little longer to see what it would taste like and it didn’t get bitter, just a little bit stronger peaty flavors. I probably would have rated it a 3/5 based on the 

Tea Leaves: Odorless, dry little tea cake
Region: Simao Pu’er, Yunnan China
Brewing: 212 degrees for 2-5 minutes
Purchased: Teavivre–  $6.90 for 1.75oz*

This is the tea cake before I broke it apart to brew with


*Prices are at time of review and may have change