Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, tightly packed in green rind
Steep time: 10 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: reddish amber to almost black
I love finding weird and wacky teas to try. It's part of why writing this blog has never gotten boring. The first and last time that I tried a tea like this was from Chicago Tea Garden way back in 2010. Just as I did then, I find myself simultaneously intrigued and slightly weirded out by the shrunken head-like appearance. If you would like to see how Chen Pi like this one are made, White2Tea wrote an excellent blog post a few years ago that shows the process. This offering from Teavivre definitely has the greenest rind of any that I have seen. The description on their website states that green mandarins are unripe and have a sour fragrance whereas ripened ones are sweeter.
I poked holes through the skin using a thin puerh needle so that the water would be able to get through to the tea. It reminded me a bit of making pomander balls with oranges when I was younger. Anyone else read too many American Girl books growing up? The mandarin floated at first but stayed at the bottom of my gaiwan once it came waterlogged. I was surprised at how light the liquor was. It brewed up a reddish amber for the first several infusions. The taste was very mild and sweet with slight hints of citrus. Although earthy, it was refreshing with a cooling aftertaste.
After the third infusion, I decided to pull the leaves out of the mandarin rind but left the cap in my gaiwan in order to keep the citrus aroma that I had so enjoyed. The liquor brewed up a dark, inky black once the leaves were able to stretch their legs. Although the taste was earthier than before it was still surprisingly clean. There was no bitterness at all, even with extended infusion times. This isn't the kind of tea that I would drink on a regular basis but it is fun to have something different once in a while. Teavivre has a white tea that is also stuffed into a mandarin and I definitely feel like I need to try that one soon.
Have you ever tried a tea like this one? Tell me all about it in the comments below!
Teavivre Xinhui Green Mandarin Orange Ripened Pu-erh Tea sample provided for review by Teavivre.