Floating Free with Menghai 2006 First Grade Ripe Loose Leaf Pu-erh

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by Little Yellow Teapot (a tea steeping marvel and occasional contributing author to this e-zine)

Those tea leaves are floating free here in my humans’ kitchen. No hard-as-rocks disc-shaped cakes (aka “bings” or bricks or tuos) that you need a special knife to chip a piece off of to steep. The convenience of loose leaf tea and the goodness of pu-erh combined. After all, you’re rushing to and fro with work, kids, and holiday activities. Or even just busy with your daily routine. This little teapot knows the kind of schedule you humans keep, at least if you’re like my humans (they seem to run around like those proverbial headless chickens). It’s a good thing that more and more tea makers in China are keeping their pu-erh loose instead of pressing it into bricks. Good for you humans and a bit easier on your teapots, to be sure.

Here is the second of five of these loose leaf teas we tried recently, and it also got us into the holiday mood!


The dry tea has a stronger earthy quality in the aroma and flavor. In fact, the flavor has a quality similar to a rich black tea or a breakfast blend, so if you are inclined to those types of teas, this pu-erh would be a good option. There is also a hint of anise (the spice that gives licorice its flavor). You can steep the same leaves 5, 6, or even more times, making this tea’s cost per cup very low. You also don’t need any fancy or unusual teawares such as gaiwans (little lidded bowls used in many Asian countries). You can steep this tea in a pretty popular style of teapot like me. TOOOOT!

Some things to note about ripe pu-erhs:

  • They go through a process after the basic leaf processing that ages them faster than normal.
  • These teas are known for their lack of bitterness, even if you oversteep them (which, of course, I never do).
  • The aroma and flavor can be an acquired taste, often described as earthy, like rotting leaves, or like raw mushrooms.
  • When properly made, they can be aged further and get even mellower and richer in flavor.

Disclaimer: all items were furnished by the vendor but all opinions expressed here are totally unbiased.

© 2014 A.C. Cargill photos and text


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