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Who’s been eating holes in my tea leaves?

October 29, 2010

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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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