Bitterleaf Teas Year of the Monkey 2016 Spring Yiwu Raw Puer

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: varied greens and browns, somewhat tightly compressed
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 5 seconds (increasing by 5 seconds with each infusion)
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: gold

When Bitterleaf Teas first burst onto the scene, I definitely remember them turning heads with the unusual artwork on the wrapper for this tea. A monkey smoking a cigarette is a unique way of celebrating the Year of the Monkey but then, I think anything featuring the art of Kelly Puissegur would be.

As per usual, they had me at Yiwu. My generously sized sample had been broken off  from the cake but was still fairly well held together. I wouldn’t call it an iron cake the compression was solid. Although my chunks didn’t contain it, can I just say how much I love that they use an actual leaf as a nei fei? It’s the little things that make a tea nerd happy.

My usual puerh brewing method is a bit of a “go hard or go home” style but I took their advice for the first go around. After a five-second rinse . The initial sips were gentle but no means lacking in strength. Yiwu is known for it’s sweeter teas and this one is a great example of that. A honey-like aftertaste lingered long after each sip. There was also a nice minerality that reminded me a bit of white wine. After the first four infusions or so the sweetness started the fade, giving way to a bolder and more vegetal profile.

Overall I’d say that this is a very user-friendly tea. Those who want a puerh powered punch in the face can achieve that with tea but it can also be wonderfully delicate and light. Just dial up or down your leaf volume and brewing time appropriately. At less than $40 for a 357g cake, this tea ranks as pretty darned affordable in my book, especially for the quality. I finished up the last of this sample while suffering through the beginnings of a cold. It did wonders for my sore throat!

Year of the Monkey 2016 Spring Yiwu Raw Puer sample provided for review by Bitterleaf Teas.

Nicole has been writing about her love of the leaf since 2008. Her work has been featured on World Tea News, The Daily Tea, Tea Journey, and other publications. She is the winner of the 2018 World Tea Award for Best Tea Blog.