A friend who is relatively new to tea and is, like me, developing an interest in pu'erh paid me a visit recently and I took the opportunity to share a tea I hadn't yet tried: Cloudwalker Teas' 1995 Tuo Cha Pu'erh. Much like my aged oolong from the same company, I don't know a whole lot about this tea's origins, but also much like my aged oolong, I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing this set of leaves.
Due to the loose compression, a large portion of my sample is now in looseleaf form.
A typically shengpu woodsy smell of earth spills out of my teapot, filling my nasal cavities. I can feel the heavily yin nature of this tea's energy already just from the smell. This effect continues from the sniffing cup after the tea is subjected to a (remarkably clear) rinse followed by the first infusion. The aroma from the liquor takes on a slightly spicy character which leaves my face tingling pleasantly from the airborne chaqi.
As the first infusion is drunk the spices that were already evident in the tea's aroma reveal themselves to be the "slightly biting [character] due to it's relative youth" of which the description on this pu'erh's page on the Cloudwalker Teas website speaks. The overall impression is of a smooth roundness due to the broad, woodsy undertones punctuated by sharp upper notes which add complexity without detracting from the aforementioned smoothness of the tea.
It takes me a while to sort out a basic characteristic of this tea due to the interesting dichotomy between how it feels in the mouth and in the throat; I can't seem to determine whether the tea is warming or cooling in nature. Initially in the aftertaste, the mouth is subjected to a pleasant cooling feeling, but then the throat begins to exhibit a warmth which then spreads down and throughout my chest. In later infusions the source of the cooling sensation reveals itself to be a subtle bitterness, which, while thoroughly enjoyable, lacks the endurance of the warming chaqi, giving away this tea's character.
The session continues in much the same way, with yin characteristics becoming more and more prominent until waiting half an hour for a steep becomes merely a pleasant pause for thoughtful conversation.