09 July 2008

An Experiment with Pu'er Flowers, Part Two: 2006 7562 Zhuan (Yunnan Sourcing)

7562 with and without pu'er flower - setupDavin invited me over to join him and a friend to smoke a brisket, grill some chicken, and watch Auntie Mame. I brought the tasting sets and decided to finish our look at tea flowers and pu'er as the food was cooking. Thankfully, barbeque and smoking cooks with little attention, so we could pay attention to the tea.

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.
7562 with and without pu'er flower - dry comparison
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.

7562 with and without pu'er flower - dry leaf with flower

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.

7562 with and without pu'er flower - liquor comparison
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.

7562 with and without pu'er flower - without flower, wet
Without flowers

7562 with and without pu'er flower - with flower, wet
With flowers

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.


Tea Escapade said...

What a great experiment! Where do you purchase Puer Flowers? What prompted this experiment?

I have several Puer's and would like to try the experiment as well.

Thanks for any assistance you can give!

Jason Fasi said...

Hou De sells pu'er flowers pressed into a small cake ($7 or so). Rishi Tea and Palais des Thes sell them loose, for around $22-25 for 4 oz. The flowers we used were from Palais. Here's a previous post with a link to the product page and some more info on the flowers.

The flowers go really well with Yunnan green tea, I'm finding...