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Tea Review: Rishi Tea: Organic Ancient Pu-erh Classic

February 22, 2009

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Rishi’s Organic Ancient Pu-erh Classic is a very nice, somewhat mild pu-erh. I would hazard a guess that even people who dislike most pu-erhs due to their earthiness would find it pleasant. At the same time people who are accustomed to drinking pu-erhs are likely to find it perfectly respectable as well.

It’s a flexible tea, able to taste consistently good using different brewing methods. I put it through three different trials. First I tried it in a Chinese yixing thermos on the go with hot water replenished throughout the day. Then I brewed it traditional gongfu style in a yixing pot. And finally I tried making it in a more typical American method, using a fairly large teapot and infuser (as shown in the accompanying photograph). It worked quite nicely with any of these methods, yielding a consistently enjoyable liquor for at least five infusions.

Since it’s loose rather than caked it is a little more accessible to the typical tea drinker than caked or brick pu-erh teas, since most people in this country do not have a pu-erh knife and tray on hand. It produces the rich red liquor typical of good pu-erh teas and tastes best in the second and third infusions.

One thing to note when brewing this tea is that unlike most cake and brick pu-erh teas it does not need an initial rinsing infusion. The first infusion will taste perfectly fine, although the most robust flavors will be released in subsequent brewings.

As an aside, if you’re looking for a way to introduce the fine art of tea to your cats this pu-erh is probably not a good choice. The cat shown in this picture didn’t like the smell of it at all. (My cats don’t actually drink tea, but they always investigate to make sure that it isn’t something that they want to taste.)

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