Crimson Lotus Tea CPTR 2010 Puerh Education Tasting Set - Sheng / Raw

So I finally decided to try the Sheng Puerh Education Tasting set I bought from Crimson Lotus Tea; it’s been sitting amongst my tea horde, I definitely wasn’t using the box to stop the massive pile from falling over. I decided to buy this because I don’t think I have ever encountered any tea store selling multiple grades of the same tea and was curious to taste the differences between the four samples. I was originally planning on tasting these blind, but I decided against it.

I never heard of the China Puer Tea Research Institute (CPTR), otherwise known as China Puer Tea Research institute Tea Seed Multiplication Farm of Simao/Puer Yunnan (CPTRTSMF), before, but I have desperately searching the internet for a puerh seller who has more tea from them (sadly I haven’t found any).  Before I go on I should mention that I tend to prefer young prettier cakes; by this I mean cakes with more golds, yellows and silvers rather than greens and blues so I was biased for the grade 1 and 2 samples. I wonder will my preconceived notions be challenged with these. Or will my prejudices against the more homely teas be justified? Generally I don’t pay much attention to appearance with greens and oolongs, although I never said no to comely Long Jing or LiShan, and instead focus on aroma and taste.

Grade: 4, 1 bud 4 leaves

Dry Leaves: I had a relatively large sample that I broke a good size chunk off of. This had a very pungent scent that I couldn’t quite identify. It is a little reminiscent of Menthol and sort of reminds me of Listerine, although there is an almost medicinal smell to it. The brewed aroma is the same as the dry leaves

Temperature: 175oF
Brewing Time: Thirty Seconds (+5)N+1
Aroma: Menthol/Listerine and Medicinal
Flavor: Vanilla, Menthol, Medicinal, Kuwei and Lavender
Tasting Notes: I decided to list medicinal as a flavor because there was something in there that taste pure, a little like spirits. I got very tea drunk off of this, at first it was a little overpowering, all I was getting the menthol that went straight to my head and made me a little dizzy. After a couple seconds I started to taste a nice bitterness and very light lavender taste.

I was reminded of an herbal tea crossed with a very young sheng, in the early infusions I kept thinking I was drinking some herbal tea, but in the later ones it feels more like a puerh. The liquor was the darkest of the four samples, I was planning on doing at least two side by side comparisons, but I don’t have enough tea left over to do so. Otherwise a very nice sheng, I definitely want to find a cake or two of this. Maybe Crimson Lotus Tea will be nice enough to part with one (please!)?

Grade: 3 1 bud 3 leaves

Dry Leaves: The aroma was much weaker than the grade four. Otherwise the leaves are pretty similar to grade 4's, but there are a couple fuzzy (ish) silvers mixed in which I didn’t notice on the image on Crimson Lotus Tea’s blog.

Temperature: 175oF
Brewing Time: Thirty Seconds (+5)N+1
Aroma: Vanilla, Menthol/Listerine and Medicinal
Flavor: Menthol, Vanilla, Kuwei, Medicinal and Lavender.
Tasting Notes: The vanilla was a little weaker this time, the menthol became the star of the tea. Otherwise it is nearly identical (in taste) to grade four, but the liquor is lighter and something is missing from it. I don’t why, but this made me think of Vanilla Coke, even though it doesn’t taste that similar to it (I should note it’s been nearly a decade since I had vanilla coke).

I already mentioned that this tea is lacking something that the grade 4 had, but I am not sure what. I did get tea drunk off of this as well, but nowhere near as intense. If I had a chance to buy this cake, I could certainly see myself doing so, although I’d prefer the grade 4 if I had the opportunity.

Grade: 1 bud 2 leaves

Dry Leaves: I didn’t have a big chunk of tea, my sample sort of looked like loose leaf puerh. There wasn’t much an aroma to the tea, but the leafs look fuzzier and more vibrant then the grade 3 and grade 4.

Temperature: 175oF
Brewing Time: Thirty Seconds (+5)N+1
Aroma: Vanilla and Mint
Flavor: Meaty, Mint and Bitter
Tasting Notes: This was rather disappointing. The weird Menthol/Listerine and Medicinal aroma was gone; it became a very distinctively mint. And there was a new meaty flavor that was nauseating. I got at least ten infusions out of the grade 4 and grade 3, but I only got to my third with this one before I gave up.

I don’t know what went wrong with this one, I brewed it the same way in the same gaiwan as the others, but it taste very different from the other samples. If I had a chance I wouldn’t pick this up again.

Grade: 1 bud 1 leaf

Dry Leaves: Pretty similar to Grade 4 and 3, less pungent though. 

Temperature: 175oF
Brewing Time: Thirty Seconds (+5)N+1
Aroma: Vanilla and Menthol
Flavor: Spearmint, Vanilla, Bitter and Floral
Tasting Notes: This was the grade I was most looking forward to, I originally thought it was going to be the best in some way, but it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong it was rather nice, but it was too clean tasting. It felt a little soulless compared to the others, although I still prefer this to grade 2.

I prefer grade 4 to this, but it is slightly better than grade 3. While grade 3 & 4 feel like daily drinkers, I don’t think I could drink this that often. If given the chance I’d gladly buy a cake of this. Otherwise I think grade 4 was the best of the sampler, followed by this while grade 3 comes in a close third and grade 2 gets the dreaded participation trophy.

I am a little disappointed I feel in love with grade 4 and was fond of grade 1 & 3 and would love to buy a cake or two of them, but Crimson Lotus is only selling the sampler. Can’t help, but think Glen of a Crimson Lotus Tea is a bit of sadist. Now I don’t go around throwing libelous statements around, but this statement in the Sheng Puerh Education Set description leads me to think that he is a sadist:

I’d be glad to experiment with the uniqueness of each grade (with the exception of grade 2), just sell me the cakes! I suppose I’ll have to check out Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2011 CPTR Award Winning "Paka" 200g Mini Bing Cake once Crimson Lotus is open again. 


Just a guy who likes tea.