Teapro Subscription Box: ‘Cake Day Pu-erh’ February 2020

Pu-erh (also spelled puerh or puer) is my weakest link in the tea world. I’ve dabbled in oolongs and I’ve whisked up my fair share of matcha, but raw and ripe pu-erh is a whole other world that I’ve barely glimpsed at.

That’s why I was relieved when Teapro added the pu-erh month to their calendar, as I desperately needed a little teaducation in this area.

If you don’t feel like subscribing for monthly tea boxes from Teapro, you can buy this pu-erh box as a one-off, but it will cost you a bit more than usual. There’s a link at the bottom of my review.

Quick Summary

A fantastic tea box that demystifies pu-erh tea and is suitable for tea drinkers at any stage in their discovery journey. I know that it will look intimidating in my review, but honestly, it’s so much fun exploring a new tea type and I’m certain that you’ll love it as much as I did.

I’d recommend it for: anyone who needs an intro to pu-erh tea.

Pros – great intro to pu-erh without scaring people off!

  • Simple pu-erh teas with familiar flavours
  • Pu-erh tea knife included in the box is an essential tool

Cons – an acquired taste.

  • Notes of decaying leaves, earth and mulch are not for everyone.
  • Cakes included might be too basic for more experienced tea drinkers.

What's in the Box?

teapro subscription puehr tea review

This Teapro box arrived a little earlier than expected, which is always a nice surprise. Note that the box size is way too big to fit through a letterbox, so our trusty postman has to knock on the door and wait for me to rush downstairs and open it for him.

In this month’s box:

  • 30g 2009 Yunnan Pu-erh Chenpi
  • 50g Dome Shaped Sheng Tuo Cha
  • 23g 2012 Jasmine Mini Tuo Cha Raw Pu-erh
  • 20g 1999 Golden Nuggets Supreme Pu-erh
  • Sandalwood Pu-erh Knife
  • 1x sticker for February subscription
  • Pu-erh tea booklet with details about the 4 specific teas included

If this is your first Teapro box, you’ll also receive a tasting wheel, sticker booklet and 3-piece glass infuser included. Read my review for those in the June 2019 teapro subscription review.

Pu-erh Tea Booklet

There are 3 things that you need to know about pu-erh. The first is the difference between raw and ripe pu-erh. The second is how to brew it, as you’re really lost otherwise. And finally, you need to know what their long and unusual names mean.

The Teapro leaflet covers all of this, with a picture guide to the different types of pu-erh cakes, a detailed guide to brewing it, and a simple explanation of how pu-erh (both ripe and raw) is made.

I am 100% certain that I will be keeping this booklet for future reference. It’s incredibly useful for when you want to buy pu-erh from an authentic seller and can’t decipher what all the terminology means.

Sandalwood Pu-erh Knife

sandalwood tea pick

Teapro gifts can be hit and miss. The fruit cooler box and chaiwala box both came with useless gifts. Fortunately, the pu-erh tea box is much better.

The sandalwood pu-erh knife, or pick as it’s also called, is an essential tool to dissecting your pu-erh cakes. Without it, you’ll be hacking away at the tea and struggling to pull apart enough leaf to brew. It’s an essential part of your tea toolkit and I’m glad that Teapro has provided a high-quality tool. The feel of the sandalwood is lovely!

Teapro Pu-erh Tea Reviews

You have various amounts of each tea in this box, as the cakes come in different sizes and weights. You certainly have enough for many cups, however. If you choose the gong-fu method of brewing (instructions in the booklet) then you’ll find there’s ample tea for multiple tea sessions.

I did discover that storing these teas was a little harder than normal. Usually Teapro give you biodegradable locking bags to store your tea in, but several of the pu-erhs arrive in just paper wrappers. Luckily there’s an empty pouch in the box but I still needed my own plastic baggie to store the chenpi in.

2009 Yunnan Pu-erh “Chenpi”

Izzy's Rating
4.3/5
  • Amount: 30g
  • Origin: Yunnan Province, China
  • Flavour notes: Smooth, smoky, slight mineral notes
  • Brewing instructions: 100°C, rinse, 30 second gong-fu brewing, 6-10 steeps
  • Quality: Excellent

This was the first pu-erh I tried from the box and I loved it. Facing a whole tangerine stuffed with tea is a little daunting, so take a deep breath and just go for it, chipping away at it with your tea knife.

Dry, the tea has an earthy scent with tangerine sweetness that’s infused into the leaves. Once brewed, it has a smooth, smoky and slightly mineral-like flavour that reminds me of a lapsang souchong combined with a Wuyi rock tea.

It’s extremely pleasant and gentle on your palate while introducing you to the earthy notes typical of pu-erh.

Just make sure you add a few chips of the tangerine peel to your tea – it really lifts it.

2009 Dome Shaped Sheng Tuo Cha

dome sheng tuo cha
Izzy's Rating
4.3/5
  • Amount: 50g
  • Origin: Yunnan Province, China
  • Flavour notes: Bitter chocolate, earthy, slightly medicinal
  • Brewing instructions: 95°C, rinse, 30 second gong-fu brewing, 6-10 steeps
  • Quality: Excellent

This was an interesting one! Dry, the tea cake smells of honey and chalk with a slightly musty aroma, but once brewed it shows off its vitality with notes of rich earth and brightness.

The flavour reminds me of bitter chocolate and earth. But don’t mistake this for a coffee-like flavour. Instead, it’s slightly medicinal and while it’s certainly not unpleasant to drink, it’s not a casual tea to consume either. I have to be in the mood to brew this tea and truly enjoy it.

I also found this pu-erh the hardest one to break apart, so my advice is to be persistent and keep on chipping away.

2012 Jasmine Mini Tuo Cha Raw Pu-erh

jasmine mini tuo cha pu-erh
Izzy's Rating
4.2/5
  • Amount: 23g
  • Origin: Yunnan Province, China
  • Flavour notes: Smooth and bright with a drying, earthy and bitter aftertaste
  • Brewing instructions: 95°C, rinse, 30 second gong-fu brewing, 6-10 steeps
  • Quality: Excellent

Anyone who’s visited my blog before knows that jasmine tea is my weak spot. I just can’t resist a lovely cup of jasmine tea, whether it’s green, white or oolong. But jasmine pu-erh is a first.

The dry aroma of the mini tuo cha is earthy and dry, but lifted with fragrant notes of jasmine and green tea. Perhaps I imagine the green tea – I can’t be sure. I’m just so accustomed to associating jasmine notes with green tea!

It brews into a fragrant tea that’s smooth with notes of bark and earth. The jasmine is more of an aroma than a flavour, I found. It also has a slight bitterness in the aftertaste which makes it a tad drying.

1999 Golden Nuggets Supreme Pu-erh

golden nuggets supreme pu-erh
Izzy's Rating
4/5
  • Amount: 20g
  • Origin: Yunnan Province, China
  • Flavour notes: Earth, autumn air, decaying leaves
  • Brewing instructions: 100°C, rinse, 30 second gong-fu brewing, 6-10 steeps
  • Quality: Excellent

Finally, we come to the golden nuggets and the oldest pu-erh. The older the better, is typically the rule for pu-erh (explanation is in the booklet) so I was excited about this one in particular.

It has a dark, earthy aroma that reminds me of mulchy mud that sticks to your boots on long walks. It’s not an unpleasant aroma, but it’s not one that I’d usually associate with a pleasant drink either. Once brewed, it is actually a very light tea with a quality that I can only describe as autumnal.

Decaying leaves, cool air outdoors, warm air by the fire… that’s what this tea is like to me.

I’d be interested to know what a more experienced pu-erh drinker thinks of it, as I’m really struggling to find the right words to describe the flavour!

Is This Teapro Box Worth the Cost?

Yes, I’m sure it is. First, there’s the educational value of this box, which is huge considering that many people (me included) find pu-erh more than a little intimidating as a beginner.

The amount of tea you get seems on-par with the price, so I’d say that was ok but not a real bargain.

The gift, however, is great value. A well-made sandalwood tea knife that will last you a lifetime is fantastic value and if it wasn’t included in the box, you would need to buy one separately to brew pu-erh tea efficiently.

Final Verdict

I highly recommend this tea box as it’s just what a beginner needs to understand a lesser known tea type. I’ve found other Teapro boxes in the past to be too basic, but this one has just the right level of simplicity with expert knowledge to make you feel reassured that you know what you’re doing.

This would make a great gift for tea lovers or just a treat for yourself.

Check out this box on Teapro or search for pu-erh teas on Amazon to find them yourself.

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