Back in June 2015, the White2tea club included 3 ripe pu’er balls with a challenge of drinking one ripe ball now, and the rest 3 months later. I tasted the first ball with my White2Tea club June 2015 review and then set my calendar to alert me 3 months and 6 months later.
As far as I know, you cannot get these ripe pu’er balls unless you were in the White2Tea club back in June, so this is more of a educational tasting. Maybe they are material in another pu’er cake?
Anyways, read the tasting I did on the fresh shou balls before reading these later tastings. For all tastings I used the same procedure, even down to the same gaiwan. I used boiling water, 1 shou ball and 2 rinses. I steeped starting at 15 seconds.
Shou Pu’er Balls Round 2 -Three Months
In strange, 3 months ago the balls were 6 grams each. When I approached the shou ball at the 3 month mark I had a problem – the shou ball got fat! It grew to 7.3 grams and got stuck in the jar that held it. The jar was some freebie that came with some teaware I bought on Aliexpress. The lid fits loosely, so there was some airing out happening.
I had to pry it out with a pu’er pick and I was lucky it came out! It is September and it was quite humid here with the A/C being toast for a big chunk of the summer.
First Infusion: Steeped up, the tea is still cloudy. It has a dark woodsy scent and not fermented smelling anymore. The flavor is too light, so I dumped it and considered this another rinse.
Second and Third Infusion: Much better and the colour is dark but a little cloudy. The taste is of dark earth, wood and roasted chestnut skin, getting stronger with each infusion. The finish is creamy finish with a bit of chocolate, chestnuts and sour. The tea isn’t as sour as I remember and is only present in the aftertaste.
Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Ball looks broken up. Very strong unlike last session. 5 cleared up the cloudy. The sour note has faded on the fourth infusion, and the flavor is quite intense, peaking at the sixth infusion. The notes are abrasive nut, wood and earth.
Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: The shou’s intensity cleared up and I’m happy pu flavor country. It’s sweet, earthy, nutty, chocolate. without being too light. It is missing that cherry wood note that I got in the session 3 months ago, likely due to lack of sour notes. Each steeping is getting sweeter and better, though a bit of dryness is starting to creep in in the back of throat.
Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Infusion: Big flavor shift as now the pu’er ball is sweet strong mineral, light caramel, butter thick texture, with a woodsy finish. Long steeps here to keep the party going.
Fourteenth Infusion: A 20 minute infusion and pretty light tasting. I tried.
Shou Pu’er Ball Round Three – 7 Months
So the calendar alert went off in December, but I was so busy with Christmas stuff I put off drinking the shou ball until January. I changed storage as I was worried the ball was going to get stuck.
Interestingly, the shou ball clocked in at 6.8grams when it used to be above 7 grams. The pu’er bulked in the summer and cut in the winter.
First Infusion: Still a little cloudy appearance, but with a sweet scent. The taste is light, sweet creamy vanilla.
Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Well the shou ball fell apart, it melted after the 2nd steep.
The flavor is clean, sweet, creamy, earthy, smooth, with dark chocolate finish. Absolutely no sour flavor, nor as intense as it was 4 months ago. On the third steeping the tea was clear. The shou ball certainly calmed down after 7 months.
Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: Each steeping is getting sweeter and the shou ball is very smooth and clean in taste. There’s a bit of a spice note with smooth chocolate rich notes.
Eleventh and Twelfth Infusion: Long steeps here and the tea is super sweet! Notes of vanilla and sweet mineral. With an oily texture on the lips. Glup this one down!
Thirteenth Infusion: 30 minute infusion. Not much left here just sweet mineral notes.
Interestingly I didn’t get as many steeps with the final shou ball, but I did get a much better tasting shou. I think the session was shorter as the ball fell apart faster, so the inside leaves got steeped sooner rather than later on.
What I also found neat was how the tea chilled out with the second shou ball, and even more with the third. The shou lost the strong abrasive quality and sour notes. For all three, there was no fishy fermentation funk tasted, that is often seen in bad shou pu’er. Maybe if you got a tempermental shou pu’er that is young, you certainly can leave it for months for it to chill out, as well as save money buying new shou to save for later. Though, I imagine the shou balls chilled out faster due to their small size.
As a tea reviewer, and it is something that is always on my mind when I review or read other’s reviews, is how long did the writer have the tea for. This pu’er certainly changed a lot in 7 months, thus tasting notes can drastically differ depending how they stored their young shou pu’er and how long they’ve had it.