Blind Tasting with Shinzo Shiratori--Sample A 1980's Xia Guan Ripe Pu-Erh

Blind tasting -- Sample A 1980's Xia Guan Ripe Pu-Erh 

      On Tuesday, Calgary was around -20, and I felt extremely cold. My body, mood, everything was starting to drop, and I felt the necessity to have a session of a hot, dark Pu Erh tea. Well I looked through my stash, and thought it was maybe a good idea to try Sample A, since it looked like a Ripened Pu Erh, and was in my list of trying recently, I gave it a shot. In Chinese tradition, everything that we consume has either a cold energy, warm energy or neutral energy. Ripe Pu Erh belongs in the warm section, so that is why I wanted to have a Ripe Pu Erh Tea.

      I used 7g of tea for a 100 ml yixing hongni teapot, so that the tea will really reveal itself with the yixing. In addition, I also used 97 degrees water, and gave 3 seconds for my first and second infusion. In the beginning, I got a very sharp but smooth flavor of cocoa beans, and a light camphor type of fragrance with the tea. It is very unique, and I thought I have never tasted this much of a strong punch in a Ripe Pu Erh before, as it was like a shot of a very dark, aged stew. It is very different from a regular Ripe Pu Erh, because I expected to be a very soft and mild brew, but was very strong and powerful in the taste. Usually in a Ripened Tea, it will be soft and creamy, however this one was sharp and strong in texture and taste. From the third infusion, I started to taste dates, dark nuts and ginseng.  The incredible thing was also the feeling of warmth inside, I felt so toasted I stopped brewing at the fifth infusion. I think this is from the age and also the quality of the Pu Erh. I suspect this Pu Erh, is not very young, probably around 15 years of age. Now the only I have to say that was a little disappointing was that the tea didn’t last the infusions I wanted it to last. The only good infusions I had was around 9 infusions, I was expecting around 15 or 16 at least. That was a little off, but I really enjoyed the tea. I would definitely recommend this tea to others, and have a Happy New Year to all of the viewers!

   I tried again to brew this tea, because I thought maybe how I brewed it was wrong, and I indeed was in the end. Keira gave me 15g of this tea, and I used 7g for each time.  I used 7g of tea for 110ml of water, and brewed for the first one to four infusions at 3 seconds.  I used a brand new porcelain gaiwan. The taste was incredible. It was sharp, yet smooth, and was very sophisticated. From the fifth to seventh infusions, I brewed it for 7 seconds, and from the eighth to twelfth infusions, I extend the infusion time to 12 seconds. I had this time up till 20 infusions of this tea, and every sip was delicious. I paired it with some Kukuna cookies from T&T supermarket, and it was very very delicous. It is a thinly baked cookie with chocolate cream inside, and the aged feeling from this Ripe tea made a huge combo and hit in my mouth. I will recommend something sweet and crispy but not flaky with this tea. It matched excellently. Once again, Thank you Keira for this tea, and I hope all of you will get some insight from my words, and happy cupping.

Shinzo Shiratori

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