Monday, August 2, 2010

Gong Ting Pu-er, New Century Tea Gallery

Gong Ting Pu-er, purchased from New Century Tea Gallery
loose leaf pu-er
no information on age or origin of production

Quite a change of pace after the more delicate Bana pu'erhs I've been trying. I've read that Gong Ting pu'erh is a very strong brew and that certainly holds true with this one. It'd be interesting to try some others to compare this one to.

This is a loose leaf pu'erh. The first pu'erh I ever bought or tasted, in fact. It was purchased from the New Century Tea Gallery in Seattle a few months ago when I didn't know to ask about the age or production details. I've brewed this several times now and no matter how short I infuse the leaves it inevitably makes an extremely dark brew. A very dark brown color, nearly black. So dark, in fact, that it hardly allows light through when I hold it up to the window in one of my double-walled glass cups.

The first aroma of the wet leaves is the strongest I've ever smelled from a pu'erh. I'm tempted to say that the first whiff is overwhelming musty, though I know that's not a good thing. I'm afraid I don't have enough experience with pu'erhs to know for sure if I'm smelling mustiness and old clothes, or if it's just what really super dark pu'erh smells like. But whatever that first big musty-like smell is, it goes away after a couple of infusions. Still, the aroma remains dark and earthy, infusion after infusion. My notes are full of words like strong coffee, tobacco, smoke, charcoal, woodsy, humus, cigarettes. After several infusions the aroma settled into what could best be described as very well-decomposed rich warm wet dark wood. Very slightly resinous, too.

And the taste? Just what you'd expect from the smell. It's like drinking liquid earth. Not dusty clay earth, but humus-y fertile black earth, with smoke and charcoal. Very smooth, though. Not bitter at all. Occasionally slightly resinous in flavor. The taste of later infusions could be described as earthy malty tobacco. Occasionally I'd get overtones of prune. And it doesn't give up quickly at all. The strength of this tea stays a long time though many infusions.


  1. hello!
    just stumbled upon your blog post. if you can't get past the 'mustiness' i suggest getting your hands on a well-aged variety of this kind of tea - often referred to as "white-needles golden-lotus" tea... with more exposure to good-quality puer, you've likely learned to appreciate it's earthy quality if you've continued to experiment with this kind of puer, though i'm not sure the quality of the gong ting tea that make it to the states. if you ever find yourself in taiwan, or if you'd like to import some mind-blowing tea, look me up :)

    neil swanson
    taipei, taiwan

  2. neil :) You've spoken those three words that make a tea-lover swoon -- "mind-blowing tea" :) Thank you for the tip about the white-needles golden lotus tea. I hadn't known that but will definitely keep an eye out for it. You'll be hearing from me, for sure :D