It can’t be tamed, it must be accepted as it is : dark, rough, thick, powerful, fermented, really changed by its processing.
It is a veteran, a survivor. He survived all the training steps, especially the so delicate fermentation time, that can be a real catastrophe if not properly mastered.
It is a one-of-a-kind, unclassifiable, fiercely independent, tea. One loves it or ones loathes it. There are puerh tea lovers, and there are people who feel nausea just by hearing « puerh tea ». « You love me ? Good for you. You don’t ? I don’t give a sh… »
It is the least consensual among all teas. It is a Navy SEAL, a Green Beret, a commando, a sniper, a guerillero. Meeting it is unforgettable, your guts will remember it forever. Whether you like it or not, is not the main question. Loudmouthed, muscular and strong, not afraid of anything. It saturates our taste buds and our olfactory cells.
Under its poor guise, dark leaves, with a light humus and earthy aroma of an autumn wood, dark leaves often pressed as cake, it hides a world that will be revealed in adversity only… in hot water, actually. Puerh tea does not need warm water. He loves hot water, otherwise it remains tasteless.
It is a warrior : a properly processed and stored puerh tea allows many brews, it can handle many hot rains.
It will show you what he is able to do only if you agree to walk a long way with it, and follow its own rhythm. Put your combat boots on.
But it is more subtle than what it shows, it requires time and attention to reveal its delicacy and refinement.
It is a patient tea, that can be kept for decades, in clay jars or paper wrapping.
It is the woods, the animal, the earth.
It is autumn.
It is a tea for those who have a good heart, who want thrills.
Not all teaware suit puerh tea : it must be strong, weathered by time and hardships ; a chipped, or even cracked bowl, is perfect ; and so is a cup with cracked enamel, where tea has infiltrated the slightest interstices. Anyway, it leaves its mark in all cups that will welcome it : gaiwans turn dark, teapots are seasoned. After drinking puerh tea, all other teas are nearly tasteless, and worse, they taste like puerh teas if brewed in a teapot previously used for puer tea !
A raku bowl, passed through fire and seasoned by tea…
Rough, wild, very manly. But delicate as well sometimes.
Intense, whole. It is hard, enduring, pugnacious, but an obstacle on its way provokes a disaster.
It does need freedom and air. Don’t try and lock it. It is a wandering man, able to walk or ride for hundreds of miles.
It shows its best in the wild, among forests, caves and rivers.
Puerh is all this.
It is a worn bowl that has been used for decades,
It is a Green Beret, a Vietnam war veteran, created by David Morrell. It is John Rambo, First Blood‘s main character. He is a man traumatized by what he saw and what he lived through, just like many veterans, unable to adapt to civil life again. Nowadays, he would be diagnosed with PTST, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Strong and hard in the outside, but very fragile, almost brittle, in the inside. A seemingly minor incident can drive him crazy, just like a hardly noticeable shock can shatter a cracked bowl. Just like a mistake in the fermentation process of puerh tea can turn a great tea in an undrinkable and even dangerous for one’s health.
I have never felt like watching the Rambo movies. Too much testosteron, too much muscles, and, mainly, Sylvester Stallone’s face. Nothing but muscles.
Until I discovered that Sly is not only an actor, but also a painter, and that he is fascinated by Oscar Wild…
Maybe I will go and watch Last Blood, with my puerh tea thermos, of course !!