Menghai Pu-erh (2003)
Pu-erhs (poo-EHRs) are the old/new kids on the tea block. Originating in Yunnan, China by the ethnic Dai people, they use a large leaf cultivar that grows on the largest version of tea bushes. they are processed and aged in a way that causes microbial fermentation. often they are then shaped into the famous round, flat cakes called “bings” you may have seen. Menghai Pu-erh is a loose leaf “sheng” (raw) that comes from trees hundreds of years old. aged for 17 years, it has a smooth syrupy liquor of old, thick, stone fruit orchards in the rain. earthy, with a surprising sweetness. it is said that if you love a pu-erh, buy all you can afford because they only come once and this 2003 aged beauty is almost gone.
METHOD: pu-erhs stand up to heat, so i boil fresh filtered water and heat a wood-fired teapot made by Dai potters — the same ethnicity that pu-erhs originated with — and clay from the same province. i like mine rich so use a ratio of 3 grams to 100ml. i rinse the tea for 20 seconds to clear broken leaves and help the tea breathe, then brew for 1 minute, increasing 20-25 seconds each round for as many as 8-10 rounds.