Bitterleaf Teas’ 2018 Core raw puer is made from spring Mengku material and is intended to be a higher quality budget friendly cake. Recently I reviewed their huang pian version of this tea, so I wanted to try the regular version with it still fresh in my mind.
Breaking the cake
The cake has a medium compression and not too much of an aroma. Both the dry and wet leaves have an earthy and floral scent, but you need to get right in to smell them. I am using 4.25 grams in my 50ml gaiwan and 85°C water. After a quick rinse and ten minute rest I will start with a ten second infusion, five for the second, then increase by five for the rest of the session.
This tea has a very strong sweetness in the midrange and there is a high note of sour, tart lemon in the forefront. It seems to jump very quickly back and forth between the two, both as you hold the liquor in your mouth and in the aftertaste. It’s fairly vegetal and has some green tea qualities to it but not nearly as bright and fresh. There is also a nice melon taste that reminds me of cantaloupe. It’s pretty astringent but not enough to be upsetting.
The tea is starting to transform at the beginning of this section moving from green vegetal to a darker fruit taste. Apricot and raisin notes are becoming prominent and more of the cantaloupe taste is coming through. Still nicely bitter on the back side but the astringency has faded by the end of these infusions.
All the green tea characteristics are now gone as well as most of the bitterness and astringency. What you’re left with is a smooth, easy drinking, dark fruity tea. Occasionally I am surprised by a peppery note but these are rare, this is not currently a spicy tea. Flavour quickly fades away starting at the ninth infusion and is spent by the twelfth. I pushed it further with a couple very long infusions but its fair to say this tea has ten-twelve good ones in it.
I had tried this cake recently, in December and my main notes were that it was quite smooth and green tea like. I noted the sweet and bitter changes but nothing was mentioned of the later fruitiness. This cake was pressed in mid May of 2018 so it is still pretty fresh. Speaking with Jonah from Bitterleaf earlier he told me puerh changes so much in the first year or two that tastings even a couple months apart can be very different. I won’t be coming back to this tea in the next couple months, but I’ll check back in with it in another six months or so.
To compare it with the huang pian brick, I would say the brick is more approachable and all around more pleasant but this cake is more interesting, offering greater depth. They are both affordable puerhs and are different enough that I’d recommend buying, or at least trying, them both out.