What am I drinking?
Pu-erh with chocolate (as in a blend of tea with cacao, not with a Dairy Milk on the side).
Where am I drinking it?
House of Tea on Main St of beautiful Blackrock. It’s a wonderfully bright café with all the requisites of a good tea house: a sleek but comfortable East-inspired decor, friendly but not overbearing staff, one wall of tea canisters and another of teapots, and a simple food menu to match the larger one of tea.
What does it taste like?
This is very strange, but very good. When served there’s an almost overwhelming aroma of dark chocolate, however the flavour is far more subtle. The addition of the cacao and other spices is very gentle, even if their scent is not. It’s not overly sweet either, but the little bit of sweetness it does add is just the right amount to temper the strong fermented flavour of pu-erh.
What does it look like?
House of Tea serve their teas in white pots and cups, with the fantastic addition of a simple tealight burner to keep it hot. The tea itself is a fantastic dark red/brown colour: much darker indeed than normal black teas.
Where does it come from?
Pu-erh is a Chinese tea, known there as black tea (what we call black teas are called ‘red teas’ in China). It goes through a complicated process, but what gives it its flavour is fermentation, as most teas go through a different oxidising process. You’ll often see it compressed and packed into balls or cakes.
What effect does it have?
There’s a fair whack of caffeine in pu-erh, but mostly it’s known for aiding digestion. In China, it's often drunk with heavy meals.
Where can I get it?
You can find pu-erh in most specialty tea shops, but its strong flavour means it’s not as common as green or black teas, so there is often not a very wide variety of blends. Try Joy of Cha or Oolong Flower Power if you’re not near Blackrock.
Is it worth the try?
Even if you don’t need any digestive assistance, this tea is worth a try but only if you like strong dark tea. This blend with chocolate and orange is a good starter for pu-erh, because it’s a little sweeter.