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


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#61 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 10:54 PM

I bet that 80 sec infusion got your attention. It looks like you have an appropriate amount of leaf for gong fu cha, and aiming at 20 seconds for the first infusion may be fine after a 20 second rinse or two. A common first sequence I use when getting to know a new tea is rinse 20, then 20, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, etc. A first infusion of 10 seconds, however, may allow you to see if the second one should be 5, 10 or 20 seconds. By the time you get to the fourth infusion, you probably are going to be brewing no more than 30 seconds.

I enjoy soups and stews in the summer, too. Yours sounds delicious.

#62 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 01:41 PM

WmC - Apologies for not catching this sooner. I just re-read your last post above and noticed you were putting the pot in the fridge. Clay absorbs aromas and it will absorb whatever aromas are floating around behind that door, so it's important to remove the leaves and put them in a small odor-proof container. I use the smallest size canning jars.

#63 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 05:17 PM

Too late for this batch, but i will pop it in a Tupperware next time. Still, it has a tight sealing lid, the spout has the strainer built in, and there can't be a whole lot of airflow in and out of there (fingers crossed).

#64 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 06:13 PM

Right, but molecules are small and the exterior clay may absorb aromas. too. One time may not be a problem, so I'll cross my fingers, too.

#65 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 08:52 PM

happy to report, the fifth infusion is still delicious, delovely, and delightful after boiling water rinse, and 1 minute with water about 2 minutes off boiling.

Might not have worked with a more delicate tea, but a more delicate tea wouldn't have inspired the experiment.

#66 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 02:05 PM

2003 Mengku * Mengku Gong Ting * Ripe Tea Cake 25 grams
Shuangjiang Mengku Tea Factory
Source: Yunnan Sourcing on eBay

My first experience with this ripe pu-erh brewed gong fu style is similar to the Yunnan Sourcing description. It is smooth with very mild camphor notes and increasing sweetness after the first infusion.

#67 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 10:33 AM

A kind friend has translated some information on my first couple of pu-erh cakes for me.

Posted Image

The cake on the left is from the Yunnan Province Tea Leave Import Export Company.

The cake on the right is "Palace Seven Sons Cake." It's from a Taiwanese tea company called Ten Fu. The tea is from the Nannuo Mountain Tea Plantation:

"Palace Seven Sons Cake is a traditionally famous tea that evolved out of history and is mainly produced in the Simao and Xishuiangbanna tea regions. In the past, the "Puer Palace" (today's Puer County) was the historic place for the collection and distribution of tea leaves. Due to the unique quality of the tea leaf products shipped and sold in Puer, they came to be prized by domestic and overseas consumers, and it also formed a specific way of drinking which became the renowned puer tea.

"Puer tea is made from the large variety of fresh leaves from tea trees in Yunnan that are the raw ingredient called Shaiqingmao tea that are then fermented, screened, [etc.].

"Palace puer tea uses a foundation of the traditional craft of making puer, uses the large-leaved Shaiqingmao tea as its basic ingredient, which has a tight, straight, fine, and tender appearance, a p[rticularly large number of golden buds, and a meaty flavor and a strong smooth quality." (The rest describes the tea's qualities and medicinal properties.] "

It was packaged in Fujian province in China, its quality is "outstanding!", and there is no expiration date.

#68 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 04:10 PM

After the black teas this morning, this afternoon sat down to work with a group of raw pu erh teas of different ages, all of them 25g or 1 ounce samplers.

preheated cups, 0.1g tea to 30mL, water just off the boil
rinsed 20 seconds, drained, sat about 2 minutes before really started...
round 1: 15 seconds
round 2: 15 seconds
round 3: 30 seconds
round 4: 30 seconds
round 4: 45 seconds
round 5: 45 seconds
round 6: 45 seconds (should have gone on to 60 seconds, but forgot my place as I was timing these)
and smelled the leaves again for a description after the 6th brewing.

1992 chado loose pu-erh CRL 17
1-dark red, earthy, fruity, sweet, lovely right off the bat
2-sweet, fruity, earthy coming as an aftertaste
3-earthy, sweet, fruity, just hints of bitter enough to ground the other flavors
4-can hardly stop to sip because it is so sweet and lovely I want to gulp it
5-still in a sweet just earthy enough to be interesting phase
6-i'm in love
leaves smell like sweetest products of my worm bin--by this I mean a lovely earthy fresh clean smell, with more than the usual sweet

2007 norbu white buds sheng pu erh, yunnan
1-pale, smoky, vegetal, not sweet
2-smoky, vegetal, not sweet
3-smoky, some sweet and fruity starting to come through
4-less smoky, more sweet and fruity
5-smoky still fading, more vegetal and still sweet notes
6-sweet notes over smoky now
leaves smell very sweet, just a little smoky

2008 norbu yi wu mountain bamboo raw pu erh, yunnan
1-yellower liquor, vegetal, sweet, bit of bitter
2-sweet, vegetal, delicately bitter, bitter aftertaste
3-sweet, vegetal--like sweet green peas, nothing fruity, just sweet and green, and less bitter
4-more intensely sweet vegetable, yum
5-cleaner still than before, sweet vegetable, green, bitter aftertones
6-very delicate early spring baby vegetables
leaves like young alfalfa hay with a lot of green left in it

2009 norbu lao mansa sheng pu erh, yunnan
1-still more bitter, vegetal, no sweet yet
2-bitter, vegetal, no sweetness
3-still dominated by bitter, but more vegetal flavors coming through; given the predominance of bitter, though, will retire this one from this tasting
Leaves smell like fresh cut grass after rain

Conclusions: the 2009 sheng is too green for me yet; not sure that it can age well in the small sample that I have, however. I like the 2007 and 2008 teas each in different ways--the 2007, while a white bud version, is so smoky that it seems heartier than the leafier 2008 tea, which is so strongly vegetal. The 1992 is a revelation, and make me want to retry the loose pu erh I got from wing hop fung that I quite disliked at first brewing. With more carefully controlled portions and brewing times it might be a different animal althogether, and should be, for the price (it was quite expensive).

Later tonight I'll go at it again with some of the new shu or cooked pu-erh samples I've gotten. There are more of those, and after playing with this series I can see why. The cooking gets you a lot closer to the 1992 pu faster, even if not quite as smoothly.

#69 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 05:18 PM

That's quite a little project, WmC. Given your sensitivity to bitter notes, I don't think you would be able to tolerate many young sheng at all if you brewed then gong fu style. But you may find it interesting to try that sometime with sheng that's at least 10 years old and with shu, at least a year or two old - at least five would be better.

#70 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 05:30 PM

I will keep to older pu's from now on when I am looking at the raw versions.

And am now very curious about the 'purple bud' 2006 sheng cake I bought from norbutea as well, which says in the description that the purple leaves have a strong bitter note. But it is a 2006, so a bit older still than the 2007 and 2008 which were both quite nice.

But that's a matter for another tasting.

#71 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 06:20 PM

It's true that Greg at norbutea has sourced some very accessible young sheng. However, I am not surprised that you found the Lao Mansa too bitter given your super-bitter-detector. It's a quality mao cha and I like it fine, keeping in mind that it's a young sheng, but this would be one to put away for ten years.

#72 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 06:32 PM

As I only have a sample, I can't age it, but I have to imagine that it will be lovely when aged, with a lot of the bitter converting to sweet. Still, I found the 2008 bamboo sheng already lovely now. So even among young shengs, if I can get sample to check them first, there may be some treasures.

#73 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 06:41 PM

That's true, and exploring samples of young shu and sheng is an adventure and interesting even though all will not be to any one person's taste.

That bamboo sheng is a particularly easy one to like.

#74 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 09:28 PM

A similar setup to this morning--these mini tastings were inspired by the Harney guide to teas saying that while developing your palate, it's best to do several teas in a group at once, to highlight their different characteristics. All four ripe/cooked/shu pu erhs happened to be from from norbutea.com:

preheated cups, 0.1g tea to 30mL, water just off the boil
rinsed 20 seconds, drained, set about 2 minutes before brewing...
round 1: 10 seconds: all of them are much darker liquors than all but the 1992 pu-erh from the earlier brewing
round 2: 15 seconds
round 3: 30 seconds
round 4: 30 seconds
round 4: 45 seconds
round 5: 45 seconds
round 6: 60 seconds
and smelled the leaves again for a description after the 6th brewing.

2006 Hainan Tea Factory "Peacock Quest" from Yunnan

1-warm earthy slightly smoky bit of fruit/sweetness
2-earthy, bit of bitter, no sweet this time
3-sweet before earthy, no bitter except at the aftertaste
4-(accidentally 55 seconds) bit more bitter, earthy, the sweet is missing from this one
5-fruity and earthy, much less bitter than the previous
6-more fruity coming up, just a hint of sweet, almost tangy
Leaves sweet, fruity, caramel, not strong earthy

2007 Yong De Zi Yu Tea Factory Ecological Old Tree RIpe Cake, Yunnan

1-primary impression of earthiness, nothing else really strong yet
2-very smooth, again no dominant flavors--bit of sweet, bit of earthy, touch of smoke
3-again, very balanced, nothing stands out
4-balanced, warm, earthy, bit more bitter
5-Just not enough tea to water? still mellow and a bit thin, but nothing objectionable otherwise
6-still thin, a little lightweight, mild
Leaves also mild scent

2007 Mengyang Guoyan Tea Factory Golden Peacock from Yunnan

1-mellow, warm, earthy, quiet
2-warm, caramel, grounded, bit of bitter
3-more sweet notes, warm & earthy
4-fruity, earthy, bit of sweet
5-fruity first, then earthy
6-woody, fruity still there, but more earthy again
Leaves earthy, woody, caramel notes

2006 Haiwan "Gong Ting" 100g Shu Pu-Erh Tea Tribute Brick (a very lovely compressed tea with a special stamp)

1-earthy, some sweetness, hint of bitter
2-hint of fruit, earthy
3-sweet first, then earthy, then bit of bitter
4-sweet, fruity, lovely, bitter and earthy essentially absent
5-fruity more than sweet, earthy, hint of bitter
6-fruity, sweet, hint of bitter
Leaves sweet, earthy, not much tart/fruity however

All of these teas still have more to give, but my capacity for drinking tea at one time, even 30 cc at a sip, is not unlimited. I also need to work on my tea flavor vocabulary, as I'm falling back too often on the same words while recognizing that the teas are more complex than that.

I like the first and the last one best, although I think the 2nd one simply needed more tea to show off its true nature better. The back and forth they show between sweeter and earthier and fruity in different infusions was very interesting. I only have a tasting sample of each, except for the brick, but have filled my tea cabinet at home and tea drawer at work quite thoroughly. I need to drink through what I have to some extent before I can get more, although there is the enchanting prospect of building up a library of pus for future drinking.

And, though at home I have no good setup for aging pus (presently no AC and no interest in investing in a wine cooler to keep temps steady for them), I could put a box of them in the office at work--a bit dry, but the A/C at least keeps things steady temperature, and I could add a bit of humidity easily as discussed up topic if so inclined.

Hmmm....

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 29 August 2009 - 09:29 PM.


#75 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 06:51 AM

A very ambitious tea Saturday!

This is a nice selection of ripe pu-erh to taste, and I agree with the Harney guide that side by side comparisons are a fine way to develop your tea palate. I am curious, though, as to the 0.1 g per 30 ml ratio? Was that a Harney suggestion? It's less than a third the strength for western style brewing and about 1/15 to 1/20th the strength for usual gong fu strength.

#76 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 07:18 AM

1 gram per 30mL, the 0.1 was a typo from thinking I was going to do an even smaller quantity, until I looked at how tiny 0.5g was.

I was trying to scale back to a small quantity so that I could indeed drink several infusions of each tea; and guessing by eyeball that I probably normally do enough infusions from about 10 grams for a quart of tea, and trying to aim for a similar ratio.

The tea liquors from all of the shu/cooked pu-erhs looked about what I expected, although the 3 sheng/raw pu-erhs from yesterday had much lighter infusions.

As I work with the scale I'll have a better idea of what I've really been doing, and adjust accordingly.

#77 technogypsy

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 07:25 AM

I've drank Pu-erh since I trained in Shing Yi Chuan in the 80s. My teacher dragged us to Chinatown NY occasionally and I developed the taste. I don't know a lot about the tea but my experience in both the US and in China has been to only buy what I could taste. I've been lucky my job requires trips to NYC, SF, and Beijing often. Pu-erhs are much cheaper now in Beijing than they have been so I can believe the glut.

From the thread, many of you know a lot more . I think it is a semi-fermented aged tea: does anyone have a reference on how thwey actually make the stuff? I love the tangerine versions I've had but to be honest that mainly because tea in a dried tangerine skin is just cool.
"Drop it in a bucket. If it stays, grill it. If it climbs out, deep fry it" Cajun recipe.

#78 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 08:57 AM

Wikipedia has a nice article about puerh including the processing of it here.

Most of the puerh I was reporting on in the two tastings above were 1 oz or 25 gram samples. It seems like a good way to educate my palate.

I also need to get back to wing hop fung on a day when they're less crazy busy to see if I can sample my way through some of their older pus.

#79 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 02:14 PM

technogypsy - welcome! I enjoy the stuffed tangerines, too.

Have you developed a taste for certain pu-erhs? Shu (ripe) or sheng (raw) in general? Aged?

#80 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 04:10 PM

Two pu-erhs today, one a sheng and one a shu, both from Yunnan Sourcing 25 mg samples.

First a 2005 Yong Pin Hao Stone Pressed Yi Wu Mountain tea cake (sheng, raw)
Source: Yong Pin Hao Tea Factory
Varietal: Yi Wu (Mengla) Yunnan large leaf, sun-dried

Scroll down on the listing to see a photo of the type of stone press they use to produce these cakes.

Dry leaves: mild camphor

7 g in a 120 ml (to the lid rim) gaiwan
Rinse 20 sec X 2, Rest 30 sec
1: 7 - Temp - just off boil (est 110 F), medium yellow color, camphor, vague fruit, could have started this infusion longer.
2: 15 - Temp 205 F, astringent, vegetal
3: 30 - Temp 212 F, astringent, fruit over vegetal
4: 20 - I pulled back to 20 sec thinking I may be pushing this to hard and getting more astringency as a result. Temp - 212 F, astringency less in your face, a little vegetal-bitter, plus some component I cannot quite identify. I don't find the nutty taste Yunnan Sourcing mentions.

There is also an underlying mild sweetness in this tea that I did not note above. I think it helps balance the vegetal- mild bitterness.

I don't care for this enough to order a cake, but I am now curious about other older ones from this producer and may order a couple of samples.

#81 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 10:26 PM

The second pu-erh is a 2003 CNNP Yellow Mark Ripe Tea Cake sample, also from Yunnan Sourcing on eBay.

Vintage: Spring 2003
Produced under the authority of the CNNP (China National Native Produce and Animal By-Products Import and Export Corporation)
Menghai area ripe pu-erh tea blend.

Brewed 7 g in pre-heated 170 ml Yixing (clay from the 1970s - 90s) filled to about 150 ml level with 212 F water.

Rinse 20 sec X 1, rest 30 sec.
1: 05 - brown-gold liquor, earthy, medium creamy mouthfeel, very slight sweetness.
2: 10 - darker liquor, thicker mouth feel, earthy dominant over sweetness, faint astringency and bitterness (which may be in the pot clay due to brewing a very bitter sheng recently).
3:20 - smoother still, medium creamy mouth feel, decreased earthiness, but still present.

Many infusions left in this, but I stopped at this point, since Wholemeal Crank is right - only so much tea you can drink in a day. Plus, three to five infusions will usually tell you what you want to know initally about a new tea leaf.

I think this is an okay, but not great, everyday shu that is fairly priced. It has no off aromas or flavors, is earthy, smooth and creamy.

YMMV - tasting notes or reviews like this are best considered to be just one more data point. Just because one person likes or dislikes a tea, that may or may not be similar to what you get out of it. Too many variables in brewing and differences in taste and taste preferences.

#82 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 10:34 PM

Too many variables in brewing and differences in taste and taste preferences.

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Case in point, the 2nd pu-erh cake I bought from Ten Ren: the first brewing tasted just like mud. Not bitter, not horrible, but just like mud--while basically trying to duplicate the brewing conditions I typically used for my first pu cake, with no major deviations that I could think of.

The 2nd & subsequent brewings were delicious, very nice pu.

#83 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 10:18 AM

A different pu question, and maybe a new one: I understand the rationale for rinsing a pu tea before the first infusion proper begins. But when working with a chunk of very dense, compressed pu, how do you balance the need to let it soak long enough to soften and open the inner bits with wanting to not actually draw all the good stuff out of the outer leaves? Should I be breaking up the denser chunks a bit? Swirling the leaves the pot with the rinse water for the whole 20 seconds? Doing a 2nd or third rinse until the force of the water on it opens it up?

I didn't have much issue with this on Saturday, when I was mostly working with samples, but now I've got a larger chunk of a regular cake facing me, and would like to do it justice.

#84 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 11:00 AM

It is best to not break the leaves any more than you have to, so separate the compressed leaves with a pu-erh pick or an ice pick. A mix of chunks and the smaller pieces that usually fall off is usually good for the flavor. Perhaps 80% larger chunks.

A 20 second rinse or two should be sufficient to wash the leaves and flush off debris. Then a 30 to 60 second rest will let the leaves begin to open up a bit. So you can try one rinse and a rest and then see if it brews an infusion to your liking.

Beyond that, each brief infusion will allow it to open up further and release more and often different flavors.

Hope that helps.

#85 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 01:27 PM

I noticed after posting that that my pu cake fragment (just an edge of the cake, broken off by hand) opened up noticeably and was pretty much loose leaves by the 2nd infusion.

#86 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 06:43 PM

Today I've been drinking the Palace Seven Sons Cake from Nannuo Mountain Plantation in Yunnan, the cake that seemed quite 'muddy' the first time I drank it. I suspect that the fines I was brewing were very dusty, and I did not rinse them, and being from the outside of the cake, they were differently aged and worse for wear.

This is the fourth or fifth brewing of this pu, and today my impression is still one of earthy and sweetness, but a mellowed earthiness, and a sweetness that is not fruity or cloying but just there, and very nice.

#87 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 05:33 PM

A little more gong fu last night

2006 Hainan "Purple Bud" Sheng Pu-Erh Tea Cake from norbutea.com
label warned that purple anthocyanins can be bitter, so I used a quite low leaf to water ratio per their suggestion

1 gram in 100mL yixing pot, preheated
rinsed 20 seconds
waited 2 minutes or so
first steeping boiling water 15 seconds--fruity, tart, smoky, thick body, wow
2nd steeping, 20 seconds--similar
3rd steeping, 20 seconds--still incredibly fruity, bit of earthiness coming on
5th at 30 30 seconds--more earthy, less fruity, decreasing body a bit

A very interesting tea. I think this is going to continue to age well.

And I have made a temporary inroad on the aging tea problem--put the larger portion of my pu cakes in envelopes in a file drawer of my desk at work. It's a bit more climate-controlled than my house, at least.

#88 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 03:18 PM

I got my whole cake of the 2007 Norbu White Bud 250g Sheng Pu-Erh Tea Cake this week. And today I am trying to find out how many infusions I can get from this amazing tea before it gives out. As I wrote in the gongfu topic, I used this setup

Posted Image

and brewed away. I preheated the pot with boiling water, added 1 gram of leaves, rinsed 20 seconds with 1 oz boiling water, then started making infusions. I infused about 1 to 1 1/2 oz water each time, and reheated the water to a boil or nearly so every four infusions. I rinsed the leaves briefly--add hot water, swirl, pour off--for the early rounds when the leaves sat more than a minutes between sets of infusions. I used such a small quantity of leaf and water because I am drinking this by myself, and as I anticipated many rounds of infusion, even at one ounce apiece it was going to add up--.

And then the tasting:

10" fruit first, smoky later
10" smoky and fruity immdiately, both
15" again more of the fruity, and the warm background smoky; bit of astringency
20" fruity, smoky, earthy, no astringency
break, 10 minutes
20" should have rinsed leaves first, but didn't: darker than the others by quite a bit, and rather bitter and astringent, yikes, will rinse after next break
30" back to fruity, smoky, hint of sweet
30" very similar, bit of astringency
45" marvelous
break, 10 minutes (taking the picture you see above), rinsed leaves quickly before starting again
45" sweet, fruity, vegetal too
60" fruity and floral again, so good it was gulped, no discipline here
60" (same problem, sluurrrppp, gone!)
75" smoky is essentially gone, but fruity and floral opened up, love it, too hot still to gulp, but lovely, have to sip slower and appreciate it
gap 4 minutes
90" sweet, fruit, floral
90" same
150" bit more dilute but still delicious
180" floral dominant, more delicate, delightful
gap 5 minutes
5' delicate, floral, sweet, fruity
7' same
8' still delighful, delicate, sweeter and more floral, even. awesome.
10'(tapping fingers, checking timer, lifting lid and sniffing deeply, impatient, want more NOW!) losing strength, a little more vegetal than floral, still sweet, though
15'fruity, vegetal, floral, hint of bitter, may have overdone a bit.
Stopping now because the infusion times are getting just too long.

That's 20 infusions, about 25 ounces of tea, and an hour plus of pleasure from ONE gram of tea. And this brewing really brings home the way the flavors 'open up' during the infusions--the first impressions of smokiness give way to an incredible fruity, floral, sweetness that was overwhelmed by the smoky earthiness when I brewed this tea 'in bulk' as I usually do at work--several longer infusions with a higher water to leaf ratio to brew a quart thermos' worth of tea. This is a case where all the elements--the tea scale to measure that teeny bit of tea, the tiny teapot, the multiple drinking cups, timer, and the careful protocol--really added a lot to my enjoyment. I should probably post a link to this in the 'is it worth it?' topic, because the answer today is yes!

At $16 for the 250-gram cake, even plus the shipping, that's a heck of a bargain.

#89 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 11:21 PM

Bought an interesting Puerh today:

Posted Image

The label says its a 'Mixed Flower Puerh' and indeed you can see flowers pressed into the outside of it. I'm not sure how much of it is flowers, but a 1 gram piece with the same ounce of water I used for the norbu white buds sheng discussed above made for a pretty dilute tea. I think it wants a quite different treatment, and will have to play with it a bit.

#90 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 04:04 PM

This topic has been quiet for a while. Today I finally started on a puerh tuo I got in a trade from Richard. The label leads me to this web site, which has a sound track to go along with the tea pictures and info. It's the one with 803 on the label, "Tulin Brand Phoenix Bowl Tea". Quite mellow and earthy, just ; I used 3 grams in a small gaiwan with about 3 ounces of boiling water. The later infusions were distinctly sweet. Guessing that this is a shu, because I think I see this character 熟 on the label (just above the black characters, first character inside the parentheses).

Interestingly, it tastes very similar to the first puerh beeng I got from Wing Hop Fung, which came in a box long since discarded, and whose sole surviving label does not, as far as I can tell, have either character--raw 生 or ripe/cooked 熟--on the label. But my Palace Seven Sons Cake from TenRen looks like it is 生/raw (see the note on the image upper left).

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 15 November 2009 - 04:06 PM.