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Crimson Lotus 2014 "Iron Forge" Puerh

August 27, 2018

Quick Tea Stats

Leaf10g
Temperature210°F
Water150-200ml
Time10sec
Infusions7

2014 Yiwu “Iron Forge” Huang Pian Shou Puerh

Iron Forge Packaging 1Iron Forge Packaging 2
Iron Forge is a Shou Puerh by Crimson Lotus. A unique aspect of this 
specific puerh is that it is made using Huang Pian. For a much better 
explanation of what this is, see Crimson Lotus’ post about it here. A 
quick and dirty explanation is that these are the larger, older, and 
usually slightly uglier (after processing) leaves that are usually kept 
by farmers instead of being sold to customers. As a result, when sold, 
the tea produced from these teas tends to be a bit cheaper than other 
similar teas. I was drinking a sample of this, but you can get a 250g 
brick of this for only $29!

Since this is a shou/ripe puerh, it has gone through a fermentation 
process that typically gives it a smooth and thicker body. It’s worth 
noting that the aging/fermenting process for shou puerh involves “wet 
piling” that speeds up the process and changes the flavors 
significantly. At some point I may do a post specifically on the 
differences between shou and sheng puerh, but at this point… I’m 
probably not versed enough in the differences to speak with any great 
accuracy!

Crimson Lotus describe this tea as “mellow and smooth” which I would 
tend to agree with, but I had some other very specific notes that I 
think are worth mentioning.

Dry Leaf

I didn’t get any specific scents from the dry leaf, and since I only 
bought the 20g sample, I didn’t have to break it apart from a brick. I 
did use my puerh spike to split apart the 10g piece I had (I already 
tried 10g a few days earlier), and it required basically no pressure to 
split. The piece of cake flaked apart, and didn’t seem to be compressed 
very tightly. I’m not certain if the full brick would be this flaky, but
I imagine it wouldn’t be that much different. I really like this, since 
some of the super compressed teas take FOREVER to come apart, and early 
infusions aren’t as good (in my opinion).
dry leaves

Wash and First Infusion

I did a quick 10sec wash before doing any infusions. Since the leaf had 
already flaked apart so easily, it fully separated in the first wash. 
This was really nice and made me feel like I’d be getting a nice and 
strong first infusion. After this wash, I did take a nice smell of the 
wet leaf. It had a strong smell of fresh paper with some hints of bread 
and maybe some chocolate. The paper smell was definitely the strongest. 
There are obvious scents that come with every puerh I’ve had (wet leaf 
has a very particular scent in my opinion). The chocolate was more of 
an “afterscent” if you could call it that… basically something that I 
didn’t smell in my initial inhale; but as I kind of took the scent in, 
there were chocolatey notes to it.
sharing cup with tea
The overall color was a red-brown and pretty dark. The darkness stayed 
until later infusions; but the redness became much duller, even with the
first infusion. I think this color is very typical for a shou puerh, 
although, maybe a bit darker?
cup with teacup with less tea
The first infusion was another 10sec or so, and was very similar in 
appearance to the first wash. The taste was not at all what I was 
expecting. The first thing that immediately hit me were notes of black 
pepper. It was this slight spiced flavor, and maybe a bit of astringency
felt towards the middle of my tongue, that left a very lasting 
impression of this tea in my mind. In my initial taste of the tea a few 
days prior, I immediately noticed the same peppery notes; but had left a
few days between that (and a few other teas) to kind of revisit it and 
make sure that I was actually tasting it correctly and it wasn’t 
something else that I had eaten that day. This peppery taste was very 
good, but definitely not the only thing I tasted and not the flavor 
that stuck around. After the notes of pepper, I began to notice the more
typical woodsy and wet forest flavors. There were definitely woody and 
smokey notes, but they were not super strong. There was also a sweetness
that I would compare to chocolate or burnt campfire marshmallows. It 
wasn’t overly sweet, but noticeable towards the end and in the 
aftertaste.

There was only a bit of a kind of “lasting” mouthfeel, but overall it 
was more of a clean/crisp feeling left after drinking. While the tea 
was definitely smooth and thick like I would expect from a shou, it 
didn’t leave the typical “coating” I get from some shou.
Second to Fourth Infusions

I did 10-15sec infusions for the second to fourth infusions. I typically
increase time by ~5sec each infusion, then stick at ~30sec infusions for
late infusions. By my fourth infusion, I was at about 15sec. Overall, 
the taste was very woody and smokey with a slight chocolatey aftertaste.
It wasn’t overly sweet, or bitter like super dark chocolate; but 
definitely not the same “burnt marshmallow” sweetness from the first 
infusion. This was closer to the typical shou flavor, with a very woodsy
camping feeling to it. It was a bit more mellow with less of the peppery
taste that I had in the first infusion. The peppery taste was still 
there, but definitely not as strong.

Overall, I felt like the color seemed darker, but that was likely due to
the leaves opening fully and the slightly longer infusions. It had a 
very dark brown color, with less of the redness that I saw in the first 
infusion.
dark cup of teaspent tea leaves
The wet and woodsy flavors were a bit more intense in the third and 
fourth infusions, and some of the smokey and peppery flavor went away. 
It also seemed like the sweetness increased by the fourth infusion 
(maybe just due to the other flavors becoming more muted). I would also 
say that by the fourth infusion, nearly all smokiness was gone and it 
had an overall slightly thinner mouthfeel. There was also a bit of a 
slight bitterness/astringency in the back of the mouth.

Second Half of Fourth Infusion

Partially because I started doing something else, and partially because 
this is something I typically do with tea, I let the second half of my 
fourth infusion cool down to room temperature. I personally have no 
reason for this (scientific, based on a specific way to taste tea), its 
just something I’ve typically done. It *does* tend to give you a 
different taste of the tea. For me, it kind of seemed to bring back the 
more chocolatey notes. A good bready, oaty taste. It was actually very 
good and refreshing. Sometimes when I do this, I fall back to the more 
smokey flavors, and its not that great. This one was very good.

Fifth and Later Infusions

By these later infusions, I was steeping 20-30sec. These longer steeps 
seemed to bring back some of the more peppery notes, and a longer 
lasting clean paper taste. The wet and woodsy taste definitely became 
more muted and was barely noticeable. By the sixth and seventh 
infusions, there was an overall weakening of the flavor. I expected 
this, and this is part of the reason I only got to seven infusions (but 
also partially because I was drinking at 11pm!).

The color was much lighter, and I could start to see the bottom of my 
cup much more easily; even with a full cup. The darkness had faded with 
the flavor.

Summary

Overall, I would highly recommend this tea. The peppery notes are nice, 
and would be REALLY nice on a cold Fall/Winter night. Even though its 
slightly cheaper than some tea, the Huang Pian is very good. This would 
be a great daily drinker in the colder months!

References