Imperial Golden Pu Er (Shu): Tao Tea Leaf

Imperial Golden Pu Er

Imperial Golden Pu Er (Shu) by Tao Tea Leaf

A few years ago, my father kept a few goldfish. In a large tank in the dining room, there were several large fish with big round eyes and beautiful feathery fins in bright red, white, orange, and black. One had a ‘question mark’ mark on its side. They were gorgeous! I could watch them for hours. There’s something so relaxing about watching fish… the shiny flash of scales and the round ‘O’ of fish kisses… it’s mesmerizing!

Why am I talking about fish?

This tea smells like fish food.  It’s that very distinct smell of ground fish-meal that you find in the back of pet stores.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing. As much as I LOVE watching fish, I HATE the smell of fish, and for the same reason, cannot stand to eat fish! How am I going to drink this tea?

I don’t know how to brew Pu-erh, and this is my first experience with it, so I need to do a quick search online. I’m instructed to use boiling water, rinse the tea and discard the first infusion, and steep for 3-4 minutes. Wow! That seems too long for me. I don’t want it too strong or bitter. I rinse the tea and steep for 1-2 minutes. It still comes up very dark and opaque, and it still smells like fish! Really?? Fish??  I can hardly get it past my nose! Is Pu-erh supposed to smell like fish?

Since it’s brewed, I might as well taste it. Never judge a tea until you’ve tasted it! Smell and taste don’t always match. Here goes….

First sip tastes like a cardboard box. Woody, fibrous, musty… and very faintly fishy. I can’t do it. I can’t drink it. I don’t know if I’ve done something wrong with the tea… but cardboard and fish is not a combination I’m in a hurry to finish.

Sorry, Tao Tea Leaf. I’m usually a BIG fan, but I don’t get this one at all! I’m going back to the cupboard for some “Fantasy Island“.  Anybody wants the rest of this sample, let me know and I’ll get it right out to you!


Update: June 6, 2014: I tried this tea again, thinking it might come across differently the second time. I just couldn’t do it. That smell!! It’s the first tea I’ve had to throw in the garbage.

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