Silver Bowl is a 2007 “found tea” sold by Bitterleaf Teas, meaning it’s one of the few puerhs on their site that they haven’t pressed themselves, but bought off a private collector to resell. While this is an aged cake, the tuo (nest) shape ages much more slowly than a beeng (disc), so you shouldn’t expect a fully matured puerh, but it still has a good start to the aging process.
Breaking the cake
The tuo is very compressed and difficult to break into. I know that lots of people dislike bricks but to me they are way nicer and easier to work with compared to a tuo. The dry leaves smell of caramel, dry wood and wet earth. The wet leaves smell much of the same and it reminds me of a summer garden smell.
I am using 3.75 grams of tea in my 55ml gaiwan, with a 100°C rinse before dropping to 95°C for the rest of the session. First infusion is 5 seconds and the remainder increase by 5 each time.
My past notes say that the first couple of infusions are pretty nondescript and that holds true today. You can probably double rinse this tea without missing out on anything. The third infusion is where the tea comes alive and things begin to get good. Toast, burnt caramel, and sour apple are the main tasting notes. It’s not smokey in taste to begin with, but it has a strong campfire aroma. Silver Bowl is smooth but it also has a bitter kick on the back end. It’s never over the top, but it is there.
The tea has begun to soften from the fifth infusion on. Still strong and full of flavour, but the rough edges have been smoothed out. The caramel note is becoming clearer and the apple is fading away. There is a bitter chocolatey flavour that is reminiscent of unsweetened bakers chocolate around the sixth infusion. As you drink the tea it’s smooth and soft but after swallowing you get hit by a blast of smokiness that holds on right at the back of your throat. I don’t mind astringency and in many cases enjoy it but if you’re not a fan then this would probably be off-putting for you.
Again, this batch of infusions is seeing a more mellow and soft tea. The smokiness fades starting around the 9th infusion and I am starting to see a return of some fruitiness. Instead of the sour apple taste from earlier it’s more of a stone fruit, plum type of frutiness. There is still the general camp fire and toast flavours but the acrid smoky notes are gone. Flavour starts dropping off at the 11th infusion but due to the lack of any off notes you can really push it until the bitter end. I lost track after a while but I think it was around the 16th that I called it quits on Silver Bowl.
At $12 for a 100 gram tuo I think this tea is a great value. It could probably stand a few more years to smoothen out just a little bit more but it’s already a satisfying drink that I have no issue recommending to people who like a bit of a smokier sheng. At the price I think it’s definitely worth picking up a couple of tuos so you can drink one now and save a couple for the future.
Silver Bowl shares many of the same notes as White2Tea’s Boat Captain, but is all around more gentle and smooth. It never gets as full or as interesting but due to this it’s an all around easier and more pleasant session. If you’ve tried Boat Captain and like the general profile but want something softer then this is a good logical next buy.