Crimson Lotus Teas 2018 Intrigue raw puer is a lower-mid range priced cake that I picked up after reading some pretty glowing reviews on Reddit and on the Oolong Owl blog. I last tried it about a month ago and was really surprised at how complex this tea is compared to the lower price.
Breaking the cake
I think this is one of the loosest compressed cakes I have. It’s nice and easy to find a spot to get my pick into the cake and get off a little chunk, but lots of leaves come loose in the process. The dry leaves smell bright, sweet and like freshly turned earth. After a quick rinse the wet leaves smell absolutely beautiful – I get a very strong peach scent, with fainter honey and melon aromas.
The taste of this tea is a bit hard to pin down, as it goes through changes quickly. Not just cup to cup, but as the liquor cools each sip tastes different from the one before. When it’s hot and freshly poured from my gaiwan it leans toward the darker green vegetable side. The most forward note is green bean, followed by asparagus and maybe a little bit of spinach. As the liquor cools it turns a bit brighter and I get some of the peach taste that I was smelling off the wet leaves. Everything is very lively and fresh tasting. The aftertaste is quick but sweet and strong.
I am starting to get some bitterness in some of these infusions, but it is short lived and quickly turns sweet. The peachy taste is getting stronger but it’s a thick and sweet flavour that tastes more like the syrup from canned peaches rather than biting into a fresh one. Most of these infusions have a wet, fresh grassy taste on the back side. After swallowing the liquor you get a building astringency that hangs on for a good long while.
Like the last few chunks of infusions, this one is hard to pin down to just one thing as things move forward and back in the mix. All of the tasting notes from the first eight infusions are still there, and I’m getting a new copper taste. The sweetness is more or less fading away and a pleasant bitterness is moving in, but all the way through it’s still quite refreshing and pleasant. At the eleventh infusion all of the harsher metallic and bitter notes vanished and what remained was a soft, sweet, easy drinking tea with a strong honeydew taste and a new faint mossy taste that I haven’t noticed before. Over the next couple infusions the tea winds down and the moss flavour increases as everything else fades away until it all dropped off for the fourteenth infusion. I increased my brew time here to four and seven minutes to get two final infusions out, and this extended the life of the tea but nothing new or exciting came out.
At the time of writing, this 200 gram cake is $52.99 USD and comes with free shipping and I think it’s an absolute steal at that price. It’s complex and has a little bit of everything with nothing that I think anyone would ever find offensive.