Dark and Exquisite Leaves

October 21, 2019

 

Hello hello!

 

      A little over a few months ago, I began airing out dark tea from Exquisite Leaves — a kind of puer tea from the Hunan province of China. Dark tea is usually fermented (or aged) and when made, is heavily smoked over locally chopped pinewood. While there are other factors that drive the process of this kind of tea, let’s just dive-in to three samples of the tea that Exquisite Leaves are fans of. However, upon opening each sample, the strong smell of smoke led me to air each tea out for several months. After airing out this tea, and giving it a chance to calm, let's dive right in!

 

2015 Gaoma Bailing

 

Brewing Temperature: Boil

Number of Infusions: 12 

 

      This tea started with a light tip-of-tongue tart sweetness that turned into the flavor profile of Kansas City barbecue. As the tea opened up, the mouth-filling expansion of smoke took ahold of the tomato-like sweetness, along with old basement-stored books and light forest moss. When this tea's session was full-on , it held a velvet-like texture that, although had a wide variety of odd fermented tasting notes, somehow managed to pull it all together and make it work. Towards the end, the tomato-like sweetness turned into a melon-like sweetness that still swam in the smokey background. Towards the end, and to my surprise, this tea began to resemble more and more of a black tea.

 

2015 Big Leaves Dark Brick

 

Brewing Temperature: Boil

Boiling Number of Infusions: 12 

 

      Upon the first infusion, the notes of smoke immediately took control of all five senses (yes, including sound). However, this tea seemed to stay on this light-smokiness for over four infusions because of this tea’s concrete-tight compression. However, once it opened up, the notes of green- grass and damp basement humidness became more prominent. However, once this tea opened up, it hit the tongue over the head and was so overtly strong, it brought on a trace of bitterness and astringency. After around fourteen infusions, this tea mellowed out and left me on the couch drunk. Out of the three samples, this one’s odor ranked the strongest odor and left me the most tea drunk. 

 

 

 

2017 Qianliang Little Cubes

 

Brewing Temperature: Boil

Number of Infusions: 12 

 

      Upon this tea’s first infusion, a light leathery texture brushed over the tongue with a fluffy smokiness that was calming. With a few infusions. this tea’s texture became so soft that it made me question if it was still a liquid or not. With the softness came the balanced sweetness of an autumn’s leaf pile, smoke, and light forest moss. However, despite being several years old, you could get the sense that this tea was already making an effort to come out with an older note of fermentation. Despite this, this tea’s texture was the most balanced out of the three and left me more relaxed and meditative than I was before the session started.

 

Conclusion 

 

      After airing out three samples of dark tea from of Exquisite Leaves for several months, I dove right into trying two teas from 2015, and one from 2017. One thing I noticed with these dark tea samples as to how they were all noticeably smoky to a degree with humid-like notes of a basement, a forest, and a stack of books. With these notes, each tea managed to turn an oddity into pleasantness. 

 

      Overall, each tea from the samples held strong on its own merit. Each one was unique and tasted like no other tea that’s come across my tray. These kinds of teas were a treat, and depending on who you are, it could be an everyday experience. While I still have a few grams of each tea left, I can 100% guarantee you that this won't be the last time I’ll make an effort to enjoy dark tea from Exquisite Leaves….

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