DavidsTea’s Golden Dragon Pu’erh

Golden Dragon Pu’erh by DavidsTea
Pu’erh Tea / Straight
$12.98 for 50g

First Impressions

Golden Dragon Pu’erh is a pu’erh that I picked up on a whim when I was throwing together an online order. I’m not sure what I’ve done with myself, but apparently I buy pu’erh teas now. What can I say? Pandemic isolation has resulted in me behaving very strangely.

Golden Dragon Pu’erh comes in regular silver pouch from DavidsTea. The ‘golden’ part is reflected by the golden paper wrappers around each individual ball of tea. 50g gets you 8 balls in a pouch, so each one is 6.25g (and makes it $1.62 per serving as each ball = 1 serving). DavidsTea describes this as being a shou pu’erh (‘cooked’ pu’erh) from Yunnan province, China. On the online product page, there’s further information from this tea being grown in Menghai and is described as one of the first regions of China to pu’erh tea (all the way back in 1500BC!).

The leaves themselves are tightly balled up – with varying shades of brown ranging from light caramel to deep chocolate browns. The aroma really reminds me of cooked down mushrooms – just very earthy, the smell of dirt after a good rainfall. It really isn’t the most appealing, but I’ve played this game with pu’erh before so… onto the tasting we go.

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Golden Dragon Pu’erh in 95°C (200°F) water for 4-5 minutes. I followed the steeping instructions and did an initial steep for 5 minutes.

First Taste

Golden Dragon Pu’erh steeps to a very deep brown with slight reddish tones. The aroma is very earthy and that is also reflected in the taste. It’s earthy, with just a hint of sweetness, and a really nice balanced flavour overall. There’s just something about Golden Dragon Pu’erh that makes me think of mushrooms, earthiness, post-rainfall freshness. There’s plenty of smooth umami qualities and it has a quality about it that reminds me a lot of the type of pu’erh that you might find served to you when you go out to eat at an authentic Chinese restaurant (especially during dimsum hours).

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Golden Dragon Pu’erh a total of seven times (eight steeps total) and it honestly got better with each steep until about the third resteep, then started to decrease in flavour (but was still worth drinking by the end). The tea takes on a more thickened liquor feel to it, lending itself to a pleasant mouthfeel experience. The flavour remains well-balanced and continued to remind me of a pu’erh that I might have been served at my favourite dimsum restaurant.

My Overall Impression

I loved DavidsTea’s Golden Dragon Pu’erh. There’s just something about this tea that gives me very strong nostalgia for memories of eating out with my family, which is honestly probably why I like it more than I feel like I should. It has a great flavour profile, is well-balanced, and resteeps incredibly well, so I wouldn’t mind recommending this (and continuing to drink it over and over again). Definitely worth the time to resteep it and have throughout the day (and night!).

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DavidsTea’s Sheng Pu’erh

Sheng Pu’erh by DavidsTea
Pu’erh Tea / Straight
$10.98 for 50g

First Impressions

Sheng Pu’erh is not a tea that I would have necessarily picked out for myself a few years ago, but 2020 is a year of confusion, mystery, and Michelle trying new things. Because why not? Sheng Pu’erh comes in a very familiar silver pouch from DavidsTea – sealed and resealable. It is a larger bag than you’ll usually find 50g of tea in, which lends me to believe that it’ll be an airy tea and just a very ‘light’ tea overall.

The leaves of Sheng Pu’erh are lightly twisted and have a range of colours from dark brown to a reddish brown colour to even a cream colour for the leaves that show some feathery bits to it. Sheng Pu’erh consists only of sheng pu’erh tea from Yunnan Province, China. The aroma is a mix of earthy and roasted nuttiness. I found out from the DavidsTea website that their Sheng Pu’erh is only a year old, so there’s still room for improvement on the tea itself if you allow it to age.

For those new to pu’erh, there’s two basic types: sheng and shou. Sheng is raw while shou is ripe – sheng is less processed and shou is more processed. I’m still not too familiar to the ins and outs of pu’erh tea and I don’t even remotely pretend to be an expert on it – but I’m in the process of learning! More on that later…

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Sheng Pu’erh in 95°C (200°F) water for 4 to 5 minutes. I opted to do a quick rinse of the leaves first with the same temperature water before doing a steep time of 4 minutes.

A quick rinse is just like it sounds: pour the heated water over the leaves in the tea pot, and immediately pour it out before it really gets a chance to steep. Then continue the steeping process as normal. Rinsing helps to ‘wake up’ pu’erh tea leaves a little bit, and is a common technique when starting a steep of pu’erh leaves.

First Taste

Sheng Pu’erh steeps to a light golden yellow. The aroma is slightly smoky, earthy, and something that reminds me of mushrooms. It has a nice slightly thickened texture, and is a smooth sip. The flavour stays the same throughout the sip, and it just has a bit of a gentle mouthfeel that allows the flavour to coat in the inside of your mouth without an lingering aftertaste.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Sheng Pu’erh four times (five steeps total), and added an additional 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. The leaves really opened up from the dried state and you can see the texture in the full leaves after they opened up after all the steeps. The flavour does deepen as you go and remains fairly faithful to the initial steep. It does get a bit more earthy and the smoky notes lessen with the subsequent steeps.

My Overall Impression

I loved DavidsTea’s Sheng Pu’erh. I found it to be a very pleasant cup of tea, and it really reminds me of a pu’erh that you might get with dimsum at a restaurant (I miss dimsum!). There’s a nice earthiness to it that isn’t overpoweringly robust, and the texture of the tea is just smooth. I would liken this to being a good introductory pu’erh because it’s not over the top in flavour, but it doesn’t lack in flavour either. There’s nothing particularly offensive about it, which I can sometimes find fault in for other pu’erh teas, but just makes for a decent, standard cup of pu’erh (which isn’t to say that as a bad thing, but it makes a nice introduction, and I kind of wish that this had been one of my introductory pu’erh teas myself when I first started branching out).

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The Chinese Tea Shop’s 1990’s Loose Leaf Pu’erh Tea (Ripe/Shou)

1990’s Loose Leaf Pu’erh Tea (Ripe/Shou) by The Chinese Tea Shop
Pu’erh Tea / Straight
$38.00 for 50g

First Impressions

This 1990’s Loose Leaf Pu’erh Tea (Ripe/Shou) was a 2020 Vancouver Tea Festival purchase (and March feels so long ago now, especially when I consider that the tea festival happened the weekend prior to a pandemic being declared – a lot has happened since that weekend). This was really an on-a-whim purchase after having a chat with The Chinese Tea Shop’s owner, Daniel. Every year, I end up talking to him about tea and he’s a wealth of information (so is his shop’s website!). The 1990’s Loose Leaf Pu’erh Tea was a recommendation made by him, and I was easily persuaded to give it a try.

1990’s Loose Leaf Pu’erh Tea (Ripe/Shou) is a straight pu’erh tea, from the Yunnan, Xishuang Banna Region of China. The ripe/shou vs raw/shang categories of pu’erh will be discussed another day. The loose leaf tea comes in a plastic resealable pouch that has a clear front and white back and a simple label with not a lot of information – the product page on The Chinese Tea Shop’s website definitely has more. The leaves themselves are a dark reddish brown colour and there’s an aroma to the leaves that reminds me of figs and apricots.

Preparation

No steeping instructions on the packaging, but as per the website, The Chinese Tea Shop recommends 95-100°C (203-212°F) water for steeping pu’erh, and also the gongfu method of steeping. I’m still unpacking from my move, so I used a western style tea pot instead and steeped for 90 seconds using 100°C water.

First Taste

1990’s Loose Leaf Pu’erh Tea (Ripe/Shou) steeps to a deep, deep reddish brown colour. The aroma of the steeped tea mimics the flavour of the tea really well – I get a lot of earthy and malty notes, sweet fig and apricot flavours, and there’s a thickened mouthfeel to the tea itself. It’s very smooth though, with no bitterness detected.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped 1990’s Loose Leaf Pu’erh Tea (Ripe/Shou) six times (seven steeps total with the same leaves), and added an additional 15 seconds for each subsequent steep. The flavour remained consistent throughout, I found that the sweet fig and apricot flavours began to wane a bit by the third resteep, but was still detectable by the sixth resteep.

My Overall Impression

I loved The Chinese Tea Shop’s 1990’s Loose Leaf Pu’erh Tea (Ripe/Shou). The balance of flavours in this tea make for a tasty cup of tea, and I’m happy that the leaves resteep so well, especially since it’s not a particularly inexpensive tea. My best pro-tip to share when you’ve got an expensive tea is to always resteep it (unless you didn’t like it) and get all that flavour out of the leaves before green binning it. I found this pu’erh to be really easy to drink and I found the malty part balanced really well against the sweet fig and apricot flavours that I found in there.

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