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Pu Ehr Tea : Also Puerh, Pu-erh, Puer. . .


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#31 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 11:10 AM

Today I am re-visiting a shu pu-erh tuo I got last year, didn't much care for and put away. This has been a confirmation for me of at least a couple of things about pu. I bought this shu as a tong of five 100 gram tuos, broke up one densely compressed tuo and stored it in a tea cannister for the past six to eight months.

Brewing the shu gongfu style today I found even the first infusion to be pleasant with no off-aromas or tastes. Dark bown-black hue, rich mouthfeel, pleasant slight earthiness, a very slight sweetness and a lingering after taste.

This in contrast to my less-than-pleasant experience when trying it immediately upon receiving it from China.

So why the difference? The obvious reason is that shu almost always benefits from aging six months to two years from the time of production, and as I recall this was an early 2008. Second, a good chance my gongfu brewing skill has gradually improved over the same period of time. And third is something that Greg Glancy mentioned to me a few weeks ago when he brewed a 1990's shu that tasted much, much better than when I brewed it last year: pu-erh benefits from resting for a couple of weeks after you get it before trying to brew it. Greg suggested that it may be due to acclimatizing to its new environment.

This is not a great shu and probably never will be, but it's a good shu and would make a decent one to drink more frequently. And it was inexpensive, something like $9 USD for the 500 gram tong, plus shipping. I'll look forward to seeing how it does over the next two or three years.

#32 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 03:54 PM

The recent pu-erh tasting and discussion has inspired me to try more of the pu samples I ordered last year. This one was from Scott at Yunnan Sourcing, but I don't see it in his eBay store today.

1998 Lin Cong CNNP Green Wrapper Sheng (Raw) Pu-erh

I brewed 6.3 g in a 110 ml Yixing pot. Rinse1: 5, rinse2: 20, rest: 60, 1: 5. 2: 15, 3: 30, (rest 2 hr), 4: 60, 5: 90, more to go.

The first infusion had a medium-thin amber hue. Slight astringency and a hint of mineral. On the second infusion, the hue was a bit darker, taste more astringent with fruity aspect. The third was smoother and had a slight buttery quality. By the fifth infusion a sweetness emerged. Typical sheng "green" quality throughout.

I think one short initial rinse would have been okay.

Interesting session. I'll have to do more pu-erh samples this week.

#33 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 11:16 PM

2007 Haiwan Lao Cha Tou Brick - Fermented Ripe Tea Nuggets
25 g sample from a 500 g brick
Source: Yunnan Sourcing on eBay, located in China

I ordered this last year from Scott at Yunnan Sourcing and brewed it once soon after receiving it. Liked it then and liked it again today.

That said, this is rather strange brewing, strange looking stuff. The nuggets (one, two and three years old in 2007), which are essentially by-products of pu-erh production do not leaf-up in brewing water. They become plump slime-balls. Unappetizing looking, but tasty. Just put the lid back on; you're not eating them after all.

Brewed in a 100 ml Yixing pot dedicated to shu pu-erh, with 6 grams of the nuggets at 212 F.

Rinse: 4, Rest: 60", 1:10, 2: 5, 3: 10, 4: 20, 5: 35, 6: 60. More infusions possible.

This tea liquor has a medium dark red-amber hue. No off-tastes and from the first infusion it thickly coated my tongue and had a hint of fruit. The second infusion was darker and richer with leather over wood. From the third infusion on there was more of a unified smoothness, with the flavors very gradually receding and continuing to be pleasant and drinkable. I stopped at the sixth infusion, and may continue tomorrow. But I estimate these tea nuggets could provide at least another 4 - 6 satisfying infusions.

I think I have a sample of a similar tea nugget made by another factory. I'll rummage around in my samples and see if I can find it for comparison.

Has anyone else tried pu-erh tea nuggets?

#34 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 11:54 PM

I have an order coming from Scott Wilson at Yunnan Sourcing (eBay) in China that includes several Pu-erh cakes, bricks and samples of both 2009 and 2008 vintage, as well as 2003 and older. Mostly ripe, cooked.

2009 Lao Ban Zhang Premium Raw Pu-erh tea cake * 25g

2008 Menghai "Hong Yun" Ripe Pu-erh Mini tea cake 100g
2008 Menghai 7562 Classic Ripe Pu-erh Brick tea * 250g
2008 Yong Pin Hao "Menghai Qiao Mu" Ripe tea cake 357g

2003 * Fu Cha Ju * Wu Liang Wild Arbor Ripe Pu-erh 25g
2003 Mengku * Mengku Gong Ting * Ripe Tea Cake * 25g
2000 Langhe Tea Factory * Aged Ripe tea of Menghai 25g
1999 CNNP "Old Tree" Ripe Pu-erh tea brick* 250 grams

I'll do a brief report for each and then more later if I have anything to say about them once I get to know each one better.

Anyone else drinking Pu-erhs? New pu? Green? Cooked? 2009 reports?

#35 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 12:02 PM

Wholemeal Crank has been discussing some Pu experiments in the multiple infusion topic, a good one to pick up here.

>these mini-tuos have a bad reputation


I have since tried a very expensive loose-leaf pu-erh and a more traditional large disc that I break bits off of, and these rishi mini-tuos are my favorite--the tea has a fruity sweetness that is missing from the others. When I work my way through the loose-leaf pu-erh I will not get more, but I look forward to trying more of the discs.  At this rate, however, I won't get to more than one a year, because the disks are large.

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Loose leaf Pu-erh is the Mao Cha from which the compressed beengs (cakes), tuos and bricks are made. Much of it sold in shops is not particularly good quality, but is a way they can offfer pu without you having to buy a beeng. However, the best pu sources will offer small 25 - 50 mg samples chipped from a compressed form.

And small samples are the best way to explore the huge world of young and aged shu and sheng pu-erh. No need to finish a whole cake before trying something else. And a good cake will only get better over time anyway if properly stored.

Not that all loose leaf pu-erh is inferior, of course. It's just harder to find outside of China. Greg at Norbutea.com brought back 2 kilos of an extraordinary Mao Cha from China this Spring. He brewed some of this for me gongfu style last time I picked up an order, and I have ordered a small sample of it to explore and enjoy further.

#36 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 08:00 PM

In part inspired by the discussion over in my other topic, I bought another cake of pu-erh today when I stopped at Ten Ren to get some more Pouchong.

Photo

I'd love to know what the text says and what the code means. I am sure it is not the sort of seriously aged investment-quality stuff that was the subject of the pu-erh bubble referenced in the NYT article linked a few posts above, but am curious about the grade, likely age, and whether this is a cooked or raw tea, so I can associate that info with the taste.

#37 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 08:24 AM

I am not sure why the link above comes out just as 'photo', so to clarify, it is a link to my photo set on flickr that shows images of the cake and the wrappings. So I'll post it again, with a little more context:



I have gotten far enough in my reading to encounter this quote from the 'pu-erh, a westerner's quest' web site:

<Yunnan Tea Company standardized the trade number for Pu Erh Tea in 1976 for the purpose of export. Each bingcha has 4 digits: the first 2 digits indicate the manufacturing year, the third digit indicates the leaf grade, the last digit indicates the tea factory....>

but on the back of my cake, this little identifying tag

http://www.flickr.co...nix/3734071434/

has several numbers, only one of which is four digits, and the cake can't have been made in 1910 or 2010, so which, if any, corresponds to this trade number?

#38 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 09:23 AM

W C - That appears to be a shu (cooked) pu-erh packaged for export or gift giving. Most come in a paper wrapper only. The people at your Ten Ren shop should be able to tell you more about it --- when it was manufactured, by which company, what grade leaves harvested in what years, blended or leaves from a single plantation, wild arbor, from which specific geographic area and which mountain, age of the tea trees. Unless Ten Ren corporate simply ships the cakes to the stores with no info.

Edited to correct: sheng to shu

#39 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 10:41 AM

W C - That appears to be a sheng (cooked) pu-erh

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How do you tell that it is cooked?

Are the images posted here, about halfway down the page, backwards?

http://www.houdeasia...49eab04013ad847

He labels the black/brown cakes as 'raw' and the green and gray (molded) cakes as cooked.

#40 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 10:43 AM

The people at your Ten Ren shop should be able to tell you more about it --- when it was manufactured, by which company, what grade leaves harvested in what years, blended or leaves from a single plantation, wild arbor, from which specific geographic area and which mountain, age of the tea trees.

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you're right, I wasn't thinking of the right questions to ask when I bought this.
I did ask about the difference between a cake priced at $35 and one at $60, and she said the $60 one was both aged longer and used higher quality leaves. But that was it.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 19 July 2009 - 11:12 AM.


#41 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 11:57 AM

W C - That appears to be a sheng (cooked) pu-erh

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How do you tell that it is cooked?

Are the images posted here, about halfway down the page, backwards?

http://www.houdeasia...49eab04013ad847

He labels the black/brown cakes as 'raw' and the green and gray (molded) cakes as cooked.

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Hmm. All I can say is my young shu does not look green. However, Guang at Hou de knows Pu-erh, so my guess is that the green "cooked" is a photo of it at a very early stage in the process. But I can't be sure about your cake.

As you and I have said, it would be helpful to know a lot more about it. It's hard to start to build up a basic knowledge base about the Pu-erhs we drink without basic information. In this case you may be stuck with "I liked this and didn't like that about this pu", with no point of reference that you can use in the future. It's kind of like buying a bottle of wine without knowing anything at all about the vintage, grapes, region, estate, distributor, etc. If the people in the shop can't tell you, you could try emailing Ten Ren and hope for the best. It is altogether not that uncommon for tea merchants, on-line or B&M, to sell a little pu knowing or telling little or nothing about it - sometimes you are lucky and it is good, sometimes not.

That said, buying whole cakes, bricks or tuos is a hard way to learn about pu. Small samples can save you from ending up with a bunch of cakes that you don't care for and then either forcing yourself to consume them so as to not waste tea, or simply putting them away and not drinking them.

Have you brewed it yet? Do you have a gaiwan or a yixing teapot that you can brew it gongfu style?

#42 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 10:49 PM

Brewed 1 small batch, more or less gongfu style--not in a pretty ceramic pot, but in a glass one, with water just off the boil--rinsed 10 seconds, then two cups in succession with about 2 minutes steeping apiece. THere was a distinct difference in color between the two--the 2nd one was lighter despite longer steeping--and the 2nd one also had a thinner flavor.

It was....well....essence of mud. Nothing bitter, nothing bad, just nothing sweet or otherwise pleasing along with the earthiness.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 19 July 2009 - 11:15 PM.


#43 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 11:25 PM

Can you say more about exactly how you prepared this? From how much leaf you used and how you removed it from the cake...to how much you used, leaf to water ratio. I think we can help you get it out of the mud. Using glass is fine for green tea and a disadvantage for pu, but still it should not be mud. Please tell all.

#44 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 12:14 AM

Can you say more about exactly how you prepared this? From how much leaf you used and how you removed it from the cake...to how much you used, leaf to water ratio. I think we can help you get it out of the mud. Using glass is fine for green tea and a disadvantage for pu, but still it should not be mud. Please tell all.

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It was about a teaspoon of the crumbs from the cake, that were there as soon as I took off the clear plastic wrapper. Some were larger pieces and some quite small--like a basic loose leaf tea slightly crumbled but not minced like most bagged tea.

And that was steeped in about 4 ounces of water, twice.

Added more images to the set of the teas, steeping, and resulting brews.



(I wasn't going to post these because I was not happy with the quality, but since you asked...)

#45 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 07:47 AM

Okay. here are some suggestions.

* Let's assume the Ten Ren $60 cake is a good, drinkable pu.

* Go back to the Ten Ren shop and invest $7.50 in one of the 4 ounce gaiwan pictured on their web site or another in their store. About 90 - 120 ml (3 - 4 ounces should be good.) Ask someone in the shop to show you how to pour from a gaiwan. If they can't, I'll describe it. There's a small learning curve, but using a gaiwan rather than trying to brew in a glass pot western style will make a huge difference.

* Use about 6 grams of pu as a starting place. (1 1/2 - 2 grams pu per ounce of water). That should be about 3 measuring teaspoons.

* Use an ice pick or something similar to remove some pu from the cake, trying to break the leaves as little as possible. A dull knife like a butter knife if you don't have an ice pick or they don't have one of the Chinese Pu-erh picks at Ten Ren.

* For your six grams of pu use about 2/3 larger chunks, 1/3 smaller pieces.

Try this sequence.

* Pre heat gaiwan, pour water into fair cup (see below) and drinking cup to pre heat them, dump water.

* Add pu to warmed gaiwan.

* Add just off-boil water (208 -210 f) up to the rim of the gaiwan.

* Put on lid for 10 second rinse, dump water. This will rinse away a lot of the smaller debris among the leaves.

* Let leaves rest in the gaiwan for 30 - 60 seconds. This allows them to open a little.

* First infusion. Try 5 seconds. Some need a little more, but this is a good place to start. If it tastes weak, then try 10 seconds for the second infusion. As the leaves open you may need to reduce the time on the third infusion or so, before increasing it on subsequent infusions.

Here's a series you could try for a start: 5", 5", 10", 20", 30", 45", 60", 90", 120". This is something you just have to experiment with to understand how best to brew any particular pu to your liking.

* Pour each infusion through that infuser basket of yours into any small pitcher or even a small glass to use as a "fair cup". Then pour from this into whatever small cup you are drinking from.

Let us know if you have any questions, and how this works for you.

#46 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 08:27 AM

Okay. here are some suggestions.

* Let's assume the Ten Ren $60 cake is a good, drinkable pu.

* Go back to the Ten Ren shop and invest $7.50 in one of the 4 ounce gaiwan pictured on their web site or another in their store. About 90 - 120 ml (3 - 4 ounces should be good.) Ask someone in the shop to show you how to pour from a gaiwan. If they can't, I'll describe it. There's a small learning curve, but using a gaiwan rather than trying to brew in a glass pot western style will make a huge difference.

* Use about 6 grams of pu as a starting place. (1 1/2 - 2 grams pu per ounce of water). That should be about 3 measuring teaspoons.

* Use an ice pick or something similar to remove some pu from the cake, trying to break the leaves as little as possible. A dull knife like a butter knife if you don't have an ice pick or they don't have one of the Chinese Pu-erh picks at Ten Ren.

* For your six grams of pu use about 2/3 larger chunks, 1/3 smaller pieces.

Try this sequence.

* Pre heat gaiwan, pour water into fair cup (see below) and drinking cup to pre heat them, dump water.

* Add pu to warmed gaiwan.

* Add just off-boil water (208 -210 f) up to the rim of the gaiwan.

* Put on lid for 10 second rinse, dump water. This will rinse away a lot of the smaller debris among the leaves.

* Let leaves rest in the gaiwan for 30 - 60 seconds. This allows them to open a little.

* First infusion. Try 5 seconds. Some need a little more, but this is a good place to start. If it tastes weak, then try 10 seconds for the second infusion. As the leaves open you may need to reduce the time on the third infusion or so, before increasing it on subsequent infusions.

Here's a series you could try for a start: 5", 5", 10", 20", 30", 45", 60", 90", 120". This is something you just have to experiment with to understand how best to brew any particular pu to your liking.

* Pour each infusion through that infuser basket of yours into any small pitcher or even a small glass to use as a "fair cup". Then pour from this into whatever small cup you are drinking from.

Let us know if you have any questions, and how this works for you.

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First question: besides tradition, what is the value of the gaiwan in this sequence, vs the other pot? As long as the leaves are covered, and have some breathing room--so they're not swelling up above the level of the water--how does the gaiwan differ?

Then on to quantities--for 3 teaspoons--three times what I used--you're using 9 x 4 ounces=36 ounces of water, about 12 ounces per teaspoon, seemingly a bit less than I used, but if part of it is still compressed, and really weighing six grams, a similar or higher ratio of tea to water, but using it in a very differently timed sequence.

Any problem with simply using your fingers to break up the cake? that's how I've been breaking the pu I have at work--breaking off a chunk, then worrying that a little until it divides, usually horizontally, into pieces that are about the right size.

And the timings are interesting, implying drinking a lot of water over a short time, since there has to be an empty cup ready for the next infusion. I'll try this next time.

#47 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 09:46 AM

Good questions.

First question: besides tradition, what is the value of the gaiwan in this sequence, vs the other pot? As long as the leaves are covered, and have some breathing room--so they're not swelling up above the level of the water--how does the gaiwan differ?


Teashops in the US usually provide only instructions for brewing western style, because experience tells them that their average customer is intimidated by or has no interest in a gaiwan. They could include a demo of using a gaiwan in their tea classes; they could demo it when a customer looks at one; but usually don't.

The gaiwan filled with water so there is a water seal at the lid will brew hotter, which you want. A gaiwan pours very fast, which you want. An infuser in a pot restricts the leaves opening. You are aiming for an amount of leaf that when fully infused will fill the gaiwan to the lid.


Then on to quantities--for 3 teaspoons--three times what I used--you're using 9 x 4 ounces=36 ounces of water, about 12 ounces per teaspoon, seemingly a bit less than I used, but if part of it is still compressed, and really weighing six grams, a similar or higher ratio of tea to water, but using it in a very differently timed sequence.


The four ounce gaiwan probably holds less than four ounces of water, since they usually measure that to the rim. Considering the volume consumed by the pu leaf, the first infusion is probably 3 1/2 ounces or less. As the leaf infuses and swells, it consumes more and more of the volume. You can get anywhere from 10 - 20 infusions gongfu style.

I think you may have a question here, and I am not sure I have addressed it. Can you clarify it?

Any problem with simply using your fingers to break up the cake? that's how I've been breaking the pu I have at work--breaking off a chunk, then worrying that a little until it divides, usually horizontally, into pieces that are about the right size.


Absolutely fine to pull it apart, breaking leaves as little as possible, if it is loosely compressed. The amount of compression varies quite a bit. Some are compressed so tightly that a pick is necesary.

And the timings are interesting, implying drinking a lot of water over a short time, since there has to be an empty cup ready for the next infusion. I'll try this next time.


If I am drinking alone using that large a gaiwan, I do not always drink all of an infusion, since I want to see what the next infusion is like.

Yes, you need a pre-warmed cup or glass of some sort to serve as a fair cup. You then pour from the fair cup into your drinking cups. (If it's just you and your drinking cup will hold it, you can just pour all the infusion in to it, of course.

You don't necessarily have to do one infusion right after another. You can let the leaves stay in the pot, but not stewing in water. If I let it sit for more than 2 hours, I do a 10 - 20 second rinse before doing an infusion to drink.

A $60 cake (375 g ?) should be vastly more interesting to drink gong fu style. You've got over $100 in pu-erh if I under stand correctly. Break the bank with a $7.50 gaiwan and try drinking pu the way it was meant to be drunk. :cool:

Feel free to ask any other questions you may have.

#48 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 09:20 PM

Didn't get a chance today to work with the new pu-erh, but did make a batch of the first large cake I bought. I still have about 2/3 of this one, and it was interesting to handle it right after the other one. It is very much denser, smoother surfaced, about the same darkness--so presumably also a cooked version--and utterly lovely, night and day from that first cup of the other one.

I broke off just the usual amount of pu--bet there's a good scale somewhere nearby in one of the nursing units where I could measure a sample, if no one was looking--and made it in three infusions, after one quick rinse, pouring all together into my thermos, and drank it right through a notoriously boring 90 minute meeting. Sweet.

I paid about $35 for this one, at a shop a few doors down from the Ten Ren where I got the latest one. I am sure the Ten Ren pu will be better when I try it again--can't imagine they'd want to damage their reputation by carrying poor quality pu.

Still, this was just a good reminder of how lovely the puerhs can be. I will try the other again, giving it a more proper try, but have to be careful about those first short steepings--if I really use water right off the boil, the risk of a scalded tongue is quite high, so carefully, carefully!

Will bring this one home so I can share pics of this vs the other one. Unfortunately, I think I threw away the nice little label with the number key from this one--if there was one.

#49 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 09:44 PM

Still, this was just a good reminder of how lovely the puerhs can be.  I will try the other again, giving it a more proper try, but have to be careful about those first short steepings--if I really use water right off the boil, the risk of a scalded tongue is quite high, so carefully, carefully!

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Alright! Sounds tasty, WC.

While you use water off-boil, you don't have to drink it at that temp. Pour it into a fair cup, or directly into your drinking cup and let it cool a bit. There may be interesting changes in the taste as the temp drifts downward. Let us know.

#50 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 10:41 PM

Confession of a pu-abuser: had no time today to make tea, but really really wanted some, so popped a rishi pu-erh tuo cha into my thermos, added hot water from the office water cooler (temp unknown, scalding but not near boiling), and headed down to clinic.

It brewed up pleasingly, despite the unorthodoxy, and remained tasty and drinkable right to the dregs. Not that I recommend this, or would try it with anything but a trustworthy pu, but I do so love a tea that rewards even abuse with such goodness.

Also added a few shots to the pu flickr set showing the remarkable difference in texture between my two pu cakes, the one I was discussing first on the right, and an older, a little less expensive pu cake on the left. The left one is denser and delicious, the right one, less dense; the jury is still out on the quality:

http://www.flickr.co...nix/3744672109/

closer up:

http://www.flickr.co...nix/3744680087/

and the label on the older one

http://www.flickr.co...nix/3744664959/

#51 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 11:57 PM

Finally had a litlte more time to brew some of the new pu,, and while I didn't have enough for the full timings suggested above, I did do 4 serial brewings of a broken bit of the cake, not the fines from the bottom of the box, and it was indeed quite nice. Don't know what I did so wrong that first bit--if it was using the crumbs, the cooler than usual water, or something else, but this was a nice pu: a little light on the fruity aftertaste that my other one has, but still, earthy, gentle, and a little sweet, not at all bitter.

#52 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 06:27 PM

Today I've been drinking a pot of a 1999 CNNP Old Tree Ripe PuErh from an exchange with Richard Kilgore. I think I used about 4-6 grams of tea in my little glass pot (holds about 5 oz), brewed a quart of tea in short infusions (averaging perhaps a minute each), and it was lovely. There was less smoky flavor to the tea than I anticipated from the smoky aroma of the leaves, but there was a really nice fruitiness and almost sweetness in the aftertaste. Very smooth.

I just reused the same leaves for another quart of tea, without refrigerating them in between, and the fresh brew is not as strong or interesting. Not sure if it is due to overly short infusion times or to the tea being tired after 6 or 7 preceding infusions, although I suspect hurried carelessness was the problem.

#53 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 07:04 PM

D'Oh! Just realized one advantage of my thermos habit--put a few ounces of the weaker 2nd brewing back into the pot, let it steep another 10 minutes, and returned this to the thermos, shook it up, and voila! Almost as good as the first brewing, with the fruity sweet aftertaste restored.

Amazing.

Two quarts of lovely tea from a quite small batch of dried pu.

#54 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 07:16 PM

Today I've been drinking a pot of a 1999 CNNP Old Tree Ripe PuErh from an exchange with Richard Kilgore.  I think I used about 4-6 grams of tea in my little glass pot (holds about 5 oz), brewed a quart of tea in short infusions (averaging perhaps a minute each), and it was lovely.  There was less smoky flavor to the tea than I anticipated from the smoky aroma of the leaves, but there was a really nice fruitiness and almost sweetness in the aftertaste.  Very smooth. 

I just reused the same leaves for another quart of tea, without refrigerating them in between, and the fresh brew is not as strong or interesting.  Not sure if it is due to overly short infusion times or to the tea being tired after 6 or 7 preceding infusions, although I suspect hurried carelessness was the problem.

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Hmmm. One minute really isn't a short first infusion for pu-erh. Five seconds is short; 20 seconds is long. Boiling or just off boiling water? Pu-erh is very difficult to eye ball the amount of leaf. I would think you would almost choke on 6 grams of leaf and a one minute first infusion. I just did 6 gr of it in a gaiwan that holds about 130 ml water. 20 sec rinse, 30 sec rest, 10 sec first infusion. Pleasant.

The early infusions are always going to be stronger and usually more interesting. This pu will go 12 - 15 infusions or more, but that's with a higher leaf to water ratio and shorter infusion times: a few in the 5 - 10 sec range, then gradually increasing times 15 seconds per infusion, then 30 seconds per infusion for the next few. When you get a chance, try something like that with a 1.5 - 2.0 gr to 1 ounce leaf:water ratio and see what you think.

#55 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 07:39 PM

my eyeballed measurement of the grams of tea used is highly theoretical. I have no fine scale nearby to hone it.

But this is for my office, and so I am not drinking that 1 minute first infusion. I am bringing one quart of water to the full boil in my office kettle, rinsing the leaves a few seconds, pouring that off, then doing a series of infusions until I have filled up my quart thermos with all the infusions.

That is what I drink for the next few hours.

And the brewing times for these infusions vary by who is knocking on the door or calling on the phone and when I remember to check it, and sometimes I forget entirely to let it brew and realize as I am pouring the tea into the thermos that it is more a rinse than a brew. Oops.

I averages out to maybe a minute per infusion. And the leaves ended up filling about a quarter of the pot when fully unfurled.

At home I am now experimenting with the gongfu style, but here, it is about finding a tea that will stand up to such abuse and still be delicious.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 20 August 2009 - 07:40 PM.


#56 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 08:31 PM

my eyeballed measurement of the grams of tea used is highly theoretical. I have no fine scale nearby to hone it.

But this is for my office, and so I am not drinking that 1 minute first infusion.  I am bringing one quart of water to the full boil in my office kettle, rinsing the leaves a few seconds, pouring that off, then doing a series of infusions until I have filled up my quart thermos with all the infusions.

That is what I drink for the next few hours.

And the brewing times for these infusions vary by who is knocking on the door or calling on the phone and when I remember to check it, and sometimes I forget entirely to let it brew and realize as I am pouring the tea into the thermos that it is more a rinse than a brew.  Oops.

I averages out to maybe a minute per infusion.  And the leaves ended up filling about a quarter of the pot when fully unfurled.

At home I am now experimenting with the gongfu style, but here, it is about finding a tea that will stand up to such abuse and still be delicious.

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Thanks, WmC. I was going to try to replicate your method, but don't think I can do that. :biggrin: But having a realistic way of drinking a delicious tea at work is a good thing.

#57 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 11:33 AM

As part of reorganizing my tea shelf to make room for more different tea samples, I have gotten rid of the fancy gift boxes that loosely contained portions of pu cakes. Ziploc bags are very convenient, but may not be the best way to store cakes that I want to permit to continue to age.

How do you store your pu-erh cakes that you want to continue to age? wax paper bags? paper envelopes? scraps of cotton fabric? tupperware?

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 23 August 2009 - 11:34 AM.


#58 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 01:28 PM

There are some interesting and helpful posts on pu-erh storage by mikepetro in the Show Me Your Teaware topic. They probably do not fit your immediate needs but it's worth reviewing.

I keep my small samples (25 gr - 1 ounce) of pu-erh in their ziploc bags in larger Yixing storage jars, but any tea storage container would work. I am not trying to age them, so the ziplocs are okay.

Bricks and cakes I keep in wood cigar boxes and in the larger Yixing storage jars. These I put in white paper sacks and write the info about the pu-erh in pencil on the sack. Cigar boxes are okay as long as you select them very carefully to screen out any that have any adhesive odor at all. If the pu picks up a little tobacco aroma, that will not bother me since I really like pu-erh that has earthy, leathery or tobacco notes. But I usually give cigar boxes time to air out their tobacco odors before using them.

I may eventually set up some form of storage with humidity control like mikepetro describes.

#59 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 02:14 PM

2009 Spring Lao Ban Zhang Mao Cha - Loose Pu-Erh Tea
More about this tea on Norbutea.com

Greg Glancy brewed this for me when he first got it in from China. I liked it then and finally got around to ordering some from him. He threw in a little extra so I would have plenty to experiment with.

The first thing I did was compare this brewed in a gaiwan and poured into a fair cup. Half of this tea liquor went into a Yixing tea pot with clay from the 1970s - 80s that I have been evaluating for the best match with 1) more roasted Oolongs and 2) shu (ripe, cooked) pu-erh. This is the first sheng (raw) pu-erh I have tried in it.

The two tea liquors were poured into tasting cups after the tea had about 30 seconds in the Yixing pot. The tea through three infusions was more typically astringent and bitter from the gaiwan, and the tea was rounder, much less astringent, much less bitter out of the Yixing. I have transfered the wet leaves from the gaiwan and am now continuing the infusions by brewing directly in the Yixing with similar results and increasing sweetness.

I had been planning on dedicating this pot to Shu, but the effect on this sheng is more noticeable than the improvement in the shu I have tried. I'll have to brew more of this mao cha and also do this comparison with several sheng pu-erh to see what effect I get before I decide.

Here's a little background on this loose raw pu-erh from norbutea.com. Used with permission.

About Lao Ban Zhang Tea:
This particular tea came from a remote area near Ban Zhang Mountain in Southern Menghai County, south of Menghai City.  These leaves are from truly ancient trees that are 400-500 years old, which were unfortunately heavily cut back and damaged during the Cultural Revolution. The good news is that in the 35+ years since those tumultuous times these precious trees have rebounded significantly and are producing excellent quality Pu-Erh. 

It is thought that many of the most highly prized vintage tea cakes from the Menghai Tea Factory were made of Ban Zhang Pu-Erh Tea, so tea from the ancient trees in this area is the most sought after and highly prized Pu-Erh tea on the market.  Aside from this historical value, Ban Zhang teas have a completely unmatched flavor profile.  The taste can best be described as strong and bitter with an appreciably sweet and lingering aftertaste.



#60 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 10:33 PM

2007 Norbu White Bud Sheng Pu-Erh, Yong De County, Lincan, Yunnan

This much tea in a 100mL yixing pot, with water right off the boil:

Posted Image

(leaves fill about 1/4 of the pot)

1min 20 second first infusion (oops, timer went off for the cookies, was supposed to be 20 seconds) was too strong, bitter, unpleasing.

2nd at 30-40 seconds was much better, still a little bitter, but wonderfully smoky and starting to show some sweetness.

3rd infusion also 30-40 seconds is really getting to be very nice, warm, rounded, very smoky, a little fruity, needs to be put away for a cool, misty winter day; not really right for this summer evening.

4th infusion 30 seconds also is delicious, with a thick body, and again warm, roasted.

I will try a longer infusion next, and then will put the pot and these leaves in the fridge overnight.

This will be wonderful with the scarlet runner beans and pasta stew/soup I'm making. I missed the farmer's market this morning so instead of a summer vegetable stew, the beans and pu-erh and ginger cookies are impersonating winter in my kitchen.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 23 August 2009 - 10:37 PM.