Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Puer Tasting with Guang Lee

Over the last few years I have purchased some wonderful puer cakes, a few tea books and subscribed to the Art of Tea magazine through Guang Lee's online tea company, Hou De Asian Arts. This company is an excellent source for Chinese and Taiwanese teas. So when I heard that Mr. Lee would be hosting a focused puer tasting at this year's World Tea Expo, I knew I had to attend.

The tasting drew about 30 guests, some of whom were very new to puer tea. Before the tasting I met a cool lady named Karen from Ontario, Canada who is also an experienced tea taster and educator. I chose a table with Karen and a great mix of other tea lovers.

Guang Lee started the presentation by showing slides of puer tea production and giving us lots of great information on its history. Then we began to drink the five selected puer teas.

Here are my tasting notes:

1. 2007 5th International Aged Puer Party Memorial Cake, uncooked
(I actually own one cake of this tea which I purchased from Hou De at the 2007 World Tea Expo in Atlanta, GA. Here is a photo of it.)

Aroma and taste = This is a lively and herbaceous tea with a lingering sweet smokiness. It warms up your throat and it is at once rosy, spicy and fruity. At one point apple cider came to mind.

2. 2007 Jing Mei Tang “Si De” Cake, cooked
Aroma and taste = walnut, chicory, wood.
Body and mouth-feel = Although it was brewed a little light for my taste in cooked puer, I could tell it is a great tea with a very smooth and pleasant liquor.

3. 2004 Chan Tai Yi-Chang-Hao “Ji FengYuan” Cake, uncooked
Color = Surprisingly dark with a rich reddish hue.
Aroma = Lightly grassy, with a hint of coffee and wet earth.
Taste, body and mouth-feel = Great sweetness with a delicate buttery note. Less crisp and pointy... more round and mellow (which I loved.)

4. 2001 Ming Yuan Hao “YehShengChiaoMu” Cake, uncooked
Color = Orange-red (lighter than tea #3)
Aroma and Taste = Peppery and lively. Karen detected a hint of nutmeg and I would agree. Also, a delicate apricot-like fruitiness.

5. 1993 Nan Jian “Phoenix” Tuo-cha uncooked
Mouth-feel = Starts soft then yields a sweet "peak" in the middle of my palate, but that sadly does not linger.
Aroma and Taste = Cassia, ginseng.

I learned a lot at Mr. Lee's focused puer tasting, and I was exposed to some awesome new teas and flavors. I left this tasting with a great puer high. My body felt light and tingly and this comfortable buzz lasted most of the day!

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