What do you get when you mix a passionate tea lover, mad scientist, and an absolute disregard for anything traditional about what we think about tea? You get Andrew Richardson, owner of Liquid Proust Teas. Liquid Proust is a relatively new vendor in the tea scene that specializes in blended tea using high quality bases. Some of their teas include a high quality jin xuan milk oolong that was home roasted with green coffee beans. There is also a sun moon lake tea and black bi luo chun blended with homemade caramel, aptly named Swann’s Way, an ode to Marcel Proust. Liquid Proust recently created a shou puerh tea that was aged in rum barrels to create Rummy Pu. Yes, Rummy Pu. The name itself shows how Liquid Proust tries to make tea something fun and not something to be fussed over.
I invited my friend Mitch over to enjoy the Rummy Pu with me. Mitch likes both puerh and liquor, so I was curious to see what he would think of a combination of the two. Upon opening the package, we immediately thought we opened a bottle of rum. The aroma of the dry leaf was strong! It hit us like opening a bottle of rum. I decided to brew 5 grams in my 100ml gaiwan with boiling water. I gave the tea a quick rinse, and normally I would discard the rinse of any puerh, but I was curious to try it. The rinse tasted like straight rum! The puerh hadn’t become apparent yet, I actually got a bit of that alcohol burn! The next few infusions I brewed for about 15 seconds to let the puerh get a bit stronger. The tea definitely had a rum kick to it, but the puerh gave it a nice chocolatey note to it. The best description I can come up with is that the tea tasted like chocolate rum balls. A nice strong rum taste but with a heavy chocolate note to it. What I kept remarking on during the session was what high quality the base puerh tea was. It was a golden needle loose shou puerh that had excellent flavor. I would drink the tea alone even without the barrel. Liquid Proust does not use lower quality bases and hide its flaws with flavor, everything about this base tea was excellent.
This was not the first barrel age tea I’ve had, but I must say this is the best one I’ve tried so far. Many barrel aged teas lose the flavor of the spirits, and only keep the flavor of the wood barrel. Liquid Proust used a barrel that was freshly emptied, and still had the aroma of the rum. This made a huge difference in the overall flavor of the tea.
I asked Mitch to give me his thoughts on the tea as well: “This shou is a rum drinker’s puerh. You almost have to enjoy rum to enjoy this because the flavor has seeped into the barrel aged leaves and it only tones down toward the end of a lengthy steeping session. Those who aren’t used to barrel aged teas, or barrel aged anything, may not enjoy this, but those adventurous enough in their puerh tasting to give this a try will be rewarded with a fine earthy backbone accompanied by some extra sweetness from the rum once the flavor bomb dissipates. I would not recommend drinking this in a work environment simply because of its boozy characteristics. Rummy Pu is a fine choice for those who are bold in tea experimenting or prefer booze in almost anything they consume”
Rummy Pu lasted us about 15 infusions. By the end, the alcohol flavor had dissipated, and we had a very sweet shou puerh that was very pleasant to drink. This tea would also be a great candidate for a long western style steep. There is no hint of bitterness, it can definitely be experimented with. Rummy Pu may be purchased at Liquid Proust Tea’s website