We had already decided our opinions of tea flower with adolescent pu'er: I couldn't decide which I liked better, and Davin preferred the tea unadulterated. I wondered if shu pu'er might benefit from the addition of tea flowers the way it can benefit from the inclusion of chrysanthemum buds.
Parameters: 5.3g of tea in each cup, 1.2g of tea flower in one. We used mineralized filtered water (with bamboo charcoal and meifan stones) boiled with bamboo charcoal in a glazed clay kettle. Brewed each infusion for 10 seconds after a 10 second wash, the final infusion 30 seconds.
Davin made the poetic observation: "With the flowers, it smells like the forest floor in Spring. Without, like the forest floor in winter." I found hot cream in the smell of the leaves without pu'er flowers, and honey in the aroma of the tea with flowers. Davin found honey not as a flavor in the fleured pu'er, but in the viscosity of its brew.
7562 is a recipe I came to love at Scott's (Yunnan Sourcing) recommendation. It's a blend of different fermentations, from light to very dark, giving it a more complex aroma and flavor than other more fermented blends. It's not as rich as most, but it's very forgiving with brewing errors. The leaves offer notes that vary from coffee, earth, bark, and butter, with most flavors centered on the tongue. Decent energy, but little aftertaste. Already liking it so much, I should have predicted that I would prefer it plain before I thought of doctoring it with flowers.
Coffee vs. caramel, drying vs. thirst-quenching, woody vs. earthy, the plain 7562 and the 7562 with flowers different greatly. The flowers lended texture and a different aroma and flavor to the tea, but Davin and I didn't prefer it. Our third, a friend of Davin's, seemed to prefer the pu'er-plus-flowers.
Without flowers on left, with flowers on right
The flowers did not alter the aftertaste of the tea, as they had with the 1999 cake, nor did they stretch the flavors or make the tea more tenacious. In fact, at the final infusion the unadulterated tea ended better.
I still reserve judgment about the inclusion of flowers. I'd like to play around with them more, using less of them, and with different teas. On a related note, I brought the sample to work and tried them with some Yunnan green tea with coworkers, and all of us preferred the tea with the addition of a few flowers.