Receiving gifts as a tea drinker is an odd experience. Sometimes people buy you tea that’s questionable, and other times you end up with real gems. I was hoping that Cuttea Sark Puerh would be one of those gems!
I must start with a disclaimer – I know nothing about this tea. It didn’t come with a leaflet and as you can see from my photos, the label on the packet is less than helpful. I have reached out to Cuttea Sark through their Facebook page (they don’t have a website) but it’s been a few months and they still haven’t replied.
I would guess that the owners aren’t very technically minded. If you want to try this tea or learn more about it, be prepared for a trip to Edinburgh!
Cuttea Sark Puerh at a Glance
- Tea: Puerh, buried tea – unknown type, variety, age, and origin
- Flavour: Earthy bark and a hint of sweetness
I’ve tried only a handful of different puerh teas in my time. This is one puerh that I’m still not sure of. It has an earthy, thick and slightly furry texture on the roof of your mouth, with notes of damp roots and tree bark. It’s definitely for die-hard puerh drinkers.
Full Review – Buried Puerh Tea
- Type: Loose leaf
- Tea: Puerh
- Origin: Unknown
- Flavour Notes: Earth, bark, intense, sweet
- Aroma: Earth, dung, wood chips, oak, smoke, liquorice, rotting plant roots
- Milk or Lemon: Neither
- Where to Buy: Cuttea Sark, 26 Victoria Street, Edinburgh
The paper bag this tea comes in has an extra lining, which does a good job at keeping it sealed airtight. When you open it up for the first time, you get that unmistakable earthy puerh aroma. I also found a slightly woody note about this puerh, like woodchips. And, unfortunately, there’s a very strong “dung” aroma. Combined with the woodchips, I feel like I’m at the goat and llama encloser at the zoo.
Thankfully, when it brews into a rich mahogany brown tea, the dung scent disappears completely. It’s earthy with rich oak notes, slightly smoky, and also slightly sweet in a freshly dug liquorice root kind of way. It’s not over the top in the slightest.
As for the flavour, it’s very intense. Earthy, notes of minerals, stone fruits and rocks, with a slightly sweet and long-lasting aftertaste. These particular flavour notes are not my favourites, but I can stomach them.
What I really didn’t appreciate was the very thick texture of this tea. It was almost fibrous and furry against the roof of my mouth and it clings to all your taste buds a while after you swallow.
This tea wasn’t for me, so I’m wrapping it back up and waiting until my palette changes and I become a more experienced puerh tea drinker. I’m grateful for this Cuttea Sark Puerh nonetheless!
How to Brew Puerh Tea
The method you should use to brew puerh tea depends on the type of puerh. As I had no idea which this was, I tried several methods.
For young, raw puerh (sheng) you should use water that’s around 85°C because hotter water temperatures will make it bitter. It’s just like a green tea in this respect. But I didn’t find any bitterness in this tea, even at boiling temperatures, so I’m fairly certain it’s shou rather than sheng.
Ripe puerh tea can handle hotter temperatures. Some ripe puerh need boiling water to draw out the flavours, while some aged raw puerh need water around 90°C.
I found that using water at 90°C was best for this puerh. At 100°C the flavours were too intense for me, so lowering the water temperature made it drinkable.
I used a western style of brewing, but I’ve also experimented with eastern methods. Usually doing lots of small, short steeps allows you to appreciate the full balance of flavours in stages. However, I couldn’t detect much before the earthiness, so this was lost on me.
However you decide to brew this puerh, I definitely recommend giving it a rinse for a few seconds. This opens up the leaves and creates a fuller cup from the start.
Why Cuttea Sark?
I have never visited the tea store myself, having received this Cuttea Sark Puerh as a gift instead. It comes in a 125g paper packet that’s sealed with Sellotape. I can’t say whether this is standard or not.
Looking at the loose leaf, I’d say this was a decent quality puerh. Although, as mentioned, I’m pretty new to the world of fermented teas. I’m judging on the leaves being whole and fairly uniform in size. My experience with puerh before this tea was only with packed cakes.
Beyond that, I don’t have much to tell you! I wish Cuttea Sark would put more informative labels on their teas.
I recommend trying this tea, at least. Maybe Cuttea Sark can give you a small sample in their store? I would caution against buying a full bag of this tea unless you’re a true puerh lover. Cuttea Sark Puerh was a little too much for me.
If learning about puerh tea is high up on your agenda, then I recommend the much more beginner-friendly puerh tea box. The Teapro Puerh box contains several small samples of puerh along with a guide that will help you understand what makes this type of tea so different and special. It makes a great gift for tea lovers too.