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Who’s been eating holes in my tea leaves?

October 29, 2010


There are times when it’s better to simply dive into something and then do the research after the fact…

Several days ago I was looking for some pu’er to drink and wanted to have one I hadn’t tried yet. I remembered the small sample of 1997 wet-stored 8582 pu’er which I’d gotten from Will of Tea Drunk Forum a couple of months ago. That seemed like just the thing, so I sat down to the tea table and brewed some.

This particular pu’er is one of the earthiest, mustiest pu’er teas I’ve ever had. It was a little jarring in the first couple of infusions, but mellowed out into a more pleasant brew in the third through fifth infusions.

After the fifth infusion the tea did not seem like it had fully expressed its full capabilities, so I decided to try an experiment with drying the leaves completely. I laid them out on a strainer where they’d get plenty of air and left them there. Then a couple of days later I put them into a glass tea thermos and took it with me to work, where I infused several infusions of it. The tea was still considerably musty in flavor, but it was a nice pu’er to drink.

I didn’t know anything about the original source of this tea before I tried it the first time, but figured I’d be able to find it from the Menghai Factory code, and I was. On Bearsblog, Jason Fasi wrote about this tea when it first came to him – prior to the vacuum storage that killed any evidence of bugs in the tea itself.

Finding out that the tea had previously shown a lot of evidence of insects leaves me to wonder whether I would have had a different tasting experience with it if I’d been picturing little bug larvae crunching around in the leaf before it got to me. I’ll never know.

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