Recently I had an online tea friend coming through town, so we decided to meet up and do a tea swap. As I was looking at their list of teas, I saw they had some Whispering Pines shou puerh – specifically, the loose leaf version of Ontario 1357. I have previously had a couple of teas from Whispering Pines and was very impressed with them, so I asked if they could bring along some of Ontario 1357 for our trade.
Upon opening up my sample pack I get a strong earthy aroma with a little bit of sweetness. After a quick rinse the leaves have an overpowering wet mushroom aroma.
For this session I am using 3.5 grams of tea in my 55ml gaiwan, 100C water, and infusions starting at 5 seconds and increasing by 5 seconds each steeping.
Infusion one has a lot of top end, with a bitter bite and a strong fruitiness. The second infusion adds in a brown sugar-like sweetness and a note of something vaguely nutty. For the third infusion no new notes are added in, but the taste becomes more developed. So far this is a lighter tasting shou. It’s full flavoured, but missing the deep woody shou tastes.
The fourth infusion sees the tea move to a bit of a heavier place, with a new molasses note, and the colour is starting to become deeper. The aftertaste is strong but not too long lived – it hits you with a powerful sweetness that quickly fades out, leaving behind just a subtle vanilla flavour. The molasses note gets stronger through infusions five and six, but it retains its brighter tones and an all around light taste.
Flavour has reached it’s peak at the seventh infusion then faded out fairly rapidly. I ended the session with the tenth steeping. These last couple infusions became much earthier than it had been, with a strong mushroom and damp wood taste.
When it comes to shou I tend to gravitate more towards a more robust tea with deep, earthy flavours. As Ontario is on the more lightly fermented side it doesn’t quite line up with my personal preferences, but I still think it’s a good quality puerh, and I wouldn’t have trouble recommending it to people who are into a lighter tasting tea.