I was very apprehensive to try this tea. I have tried Pu-Erh tea in the past – and yes, I know that not all teas are created equal – however, the experience I’ve had with Pu-Erh has not been favorable, so I hesitated when the opportunity presented itself to try it again. Pu-Erh possess a very earthy quality that many love; however, I am not among that number. The earthiness is far too overwhelming for my palate, preferring something more delicate like an Oolong, green or white tea.
So, what finally convinced me to try this Pu-Erh? Well, there are two things, actually. The first is that this is a “white” Pu-Erh, so I thought that maybe, just maybe I might find this tea more appealing. Second, this tea is produced by Norbu, and up until this point, all of the Norbu teas that I’ve been fortunate enough to try have been of stellar quality, so, I was hoping that the excellence of Norbu would shine through and my palate would approve.
And I’m actually really glad that I did try it. Yes, this Pu-Erh is earthy. But the earthy quality is considerably milder than other Pu-Erh teas I’ve tried, much the same way that white tea is milder than a black tea. It is a very well-rounded combination of smoky and earthy notes – both are gently present on the palate, but neither is overwhelming or off-putting. There is a muskiness to the earthy characteristics that reminds me vaguely of a Darjeeling (make no mistake, this is not a Darjeeling, nor does it taste like one, but the musky tone is similar to the muscatel of Darjeeling), while the ever-so-slight peppery quality is reminiscent to a golden Yunnan tea. The peppery note lingers very satisfactorily in the finish.
Norbu Tea describes this tea as:
This beautiful White Bud Pu-Erh Bing Cha is the first private production for Norbu Tea, and I am very proud to be able to offer it! It is composed entirely of pure white buds that were hand harvested from cultivated Yunnan varietal tea plants grown in Yong De county of Lincang Prefecture near China’s border with Myanmar. It was harvested in the Spring of 2007 and was processed at a small facility in this rather remote area of Yunnan.
One thing to keep in mind about this tea is that it is not a conventional white tea. White teas are simply picked and dried, while this was processed just like other Pu-Erh teas. It was picked, withered, pan fired, and sun dried, creating a flavor profile that is different and more assertive than conventional white tea. It has a bit of a sweet malty flavor with very little of the bitterness common to other young Sheng Pu-Erh. This is an excellent starting point for people who are new to Pu-Erh in general because of its mildness, but it is also an excellent change of pace for people who are lovers of the many different forms that Pu-Erh can take.
-Producer: Norbu Enterprises Private Production
-Vintage: Spring 2007
-Compression Date: 11/08
-Growing Region: Yong De County, Lincang
I did not utilize the “Gong Fu” preparation technique when brewing this Pu-Erh; I used my good ol’ smart tea brewer, brought the tea to a hearty simmer (but not quite boiling), and allowed it to steep for 3 minutes. This resulted in a lovely tasting cup of tea. Perhaps next time with this tea, I shall get out my Gaiwan and go for the gusto. What I’m trying to say, though, is that you needn’t any different equipment than you would normally use for loose leaf brewing.
Now, I’m not going to suggest that this is the best tea from Norbu that I’ve tried, because it isn’t (if you want to know my favorite – so far – check out this review) However, it is the best Pu-Erh I’ve tried. Granted, I’ve not tried a lot of Pu-Erh, and I’m by no means an expert when it comes to Pu-Erh. But I know what I like – and I like this tea.
That being said, this is an exceptional Pu-Erh. If you are a Pu-Erh skeptic, I recommend trying this tea – you might just find it as enjoyable as I did.