Bitterleaf Teas’ Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao Ancient Tree Raw Puer and Grizzly Brown 2006 Meng Hai Tu Si Ripe Puer | Tea Review

by Tea in Spoons

Tea received at a discount for review

Bitterleaf Teas Puer Tea Two Spoons

In the past, I’ve reviewed teas from Bitterleaf Teas before. However, I never really spoke about the company. I came across Bitterleaf Teas a year ago because I saw a picture of their pretty packaging (I’m a sucker for packaging).

When I emailed Bitterleaf Teas about buying sample sizes, I spoke with Jonah, one of the owners, who offered a discount to try their teas. Even though I grew up with drinking pu’ers at dim sum, I am still most familiar with western style brewing, so I jumped at the chance.

In two lines, Bitterleaf Teas describe themselves with the following: “The heart and brain of Bitterleaf is Coomi Xuan Liu and Jonah Snyder. We’re based out of Coomi’s hometown of Kunming, Yunnan, China.” Their main focus is pu’er. They also sell beautiful teaware (I bought an easy pour gaiwan and cups set from them).

In this post, I will be trying two teas from Bitterleaf Teas: a raw and a ripe pu’er.

Linda Gaylard, a tea sommelier, succinctly explains what raw and ripe pu’er are in her book, The Tea Book. She writes: “There are two kinds of pu’er: Sheng (raw), which is allowed to develop and age naturally, and Shou (ripe), which undergoes an accelerated fermentation process.”

If you want to read more about pu’er (and other teas), Gaylard has written a lovely visual book. It has information about tea types, history, and tea producing regions, and even tea recipes!

Now that we have gone through a short introduction about Bitterleaf Teas and the basic underlying definition of raw and ripe pu’er, let’s try the teas!

Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao Ancient Tree Raw Puer

Bitterleaf Teas Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao Ancient Tree Raw Puer Dishes

Description: “This exceptionally smooth and drinkable tea has a strong taste of honey from the moment it hits your lips until well after you’ve finished drinking, not to mention an extremely sweet scent that remains in your cup.”

Review: On the information card that came with the tea, it recommended that the tea could be steeped up to 12 times. So far, of all the teas I’ve tried, this is the highest number of resteeps. The ratio for this tea is 1 gram of leaves for 20 ml of water, so I used 2 grams of leaves. Lastly, the card also noted that the tea ‘pairs well with light or plain cookies or crackers.’

The dry blend had a very faint grassy aroma. When wet, the leaves were more earth-like, and the liquor was amber yellow and stayed fairly constant colour. The fragrance of the liquor was grassy with hints of seaweed.

Steep 1 – The liquor was rich and earthy

Steep 2 and 3 – These two steeps were more herbal. However, Steep 3 was the milder of the two

Steep 4 – This steep took on more floral notes

Steep 5 – I was a bit surprised, but this was similar to Steep 1, and was more earthy

Steep 6 and 7 – The liquor tasted earthy and slightly medicinal and charcoal

Steep 8 – A lighter version of Steep 6 and 7

Steep 9 – Liquor tasted malty, with a hint of earthy-ness

Steep 10 – This steep was more earthy and slightly floral

Steep 11 – There was a decrease in flavour in this steep

Steep 12 – This was the last recommended steep and was fairly thin, but still had some flavour

Overall, I enjoyed this tea. The card noted some profile notes about the tea: “golden, high fragrance, smooth, and honey.” I think what I considered as ‘earthy’ may have been what Bitterleaf Teas considered ‘golden.’ This was a lovely tea to mellow out to and tasted mostly earthy (3/5 rating).

  • Type: Pu’er tea
  • Origin: China
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: Raw pu’er
  • Company: Bitterleaf Teas

Grizzly Brown 2006 Meng Hai Tu Si Ripe Puer

Bitterleaf Teas Grizzly Brown 2006 Meng Hai Tu Si Ripe Puer Dishes

Description: “Our Grizzly Brown ripe Puer [has] a smooth, thick body, a mouth-filling feeling and overall clean taste.”

Review: The information card for this tea mentioned that it could be brewed up to 10 times and that the tea paired well with whole grain baked goods. The ratio for this tea is 1 gram of leaves for 20 ml of water, so I used 2 grams of leaves.

While the dry leaves did not have a strong aroma, the wet leaves instantly brought me back to having dim sum and drinking tea. It had a very classic, rich, and warm pu’er aroma.

Steep 1 – When I poured water into the cup after the rinse, it was nice to see a burst of dark reddish amber colour flood into the cup from the leaves. Since it was a first steep, it was fairly mild tasting

Steep 2 – The flavour slowly developed and became more earthy and rich

Steep 3 and 4 – Really nice earthy notes which were almost malty and sweet

Steep 5 and 6 – The flavours started to change and become slightly fruity

Steep 7, 8, and 9 – I really enjoyed the tea during these steeps. They had a deep rich flavour that lingered in the mouth. There was mild astringency during the tail end of the sip. I found it very comforting.

Steep 10 – The flavour mellowed out, but I enjoyed it to the end. I debated about resteeping it one more time, but I didn’t think that I would have gotten much flavour.

I think for me, this was very nostalgic, in a good way. I could see this as a late afternoon or something to drink early in the night (4/5 rating).

  • Type: Pu’er tea
  • Origin: China
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: Ripe pu’er
  • Company: Bitterleaf Teas

Final Thoughts

I have to say, I have enjoyed both the customer service (Jonah is always quick to answer any questions) and the items that I’ve bought from Bitterleaf Teas. I would definitely continue to buy from them in the future! Hopefully, this was a useful comparison of raw and ripe pu’er.

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northernteaist May 20, 2017 - 1:32 am

I’ve read a lot of good things about Bitterleaf – they’re definitely on my list of vendors to try when the cash flow situation permits… that Bing Dao certainly looks interesting… 🙂

teainspoons May 20, 2017 - 3:38 pm

Thanks for reading my review! I really have enjoyed Bitterleaf Teas. I think they have great customer service, and so far, of all the teas I’ve tried, there isn’t one I don’t like. Can’t wait to see what you think of their teas!

northernteaist May 20, 2017 - 5:17 pm

Thanks yourself for the interesting reviews – it’s always good to see what other people think about things before you hit that “buy” button… 🙂

Hehe…you might have to be a bit patient…I’ve just put in three fairly large orders, so the tea budget has taken quite a hammering, but I’ll certainly get around to sampling Bitterleaf’s wares sooner rather than later… 🙂

teainspoons May 21, 2017 - 5:58 pm

Well, either way, I’m glad my review was useful.

Where did you put your three big orders?

northernteaist May 22, 2017 - 12:33 pm

White2Tea, What-cha, and my go-to shop here in Sweden, House of Tea.

Not big compared to some of the big hitters on the scene, but large enough to empty the coffers for the next couple of months… 🙂

teainspoons May 22, 2017 - 3:27 pm

I got some stuff from What-cha too! I may not be able to get around it until later. White2Tea is something I have also been eying as well! Will be looking out for your thoughts on both. 🙂


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Tea in Spoons is where I share my love of teas through tea reviews, tea travel, tea tips, information, and more. New tea adventure every Thursday!