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

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#121 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 07:04 PM

I pulled out a piece of the beeng that Wholemeal Crank referred to uptopic and sent to me last year. Not sure my tea memory is good enough to make this a strong statement, but it is better than the first time I brewed it. The pu may have developed a little in the meanwhile, and I am also brewing it this time in a Yixing with good old clay dedicated to older shu. At any rate, it's smooth and delicious. Thanks again.

#122 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 08:49 PM

It's a good reminder to go through the pu stock and check things from time to time, to see how they're developing. Too easy to get in to a rut, and miss the excellence on all sides.

But today, back into the 'rut' with my 2007 White Bud Sheng from Norbu. One of my very first infusions was an 80 second shocker with a densely packed yixing, but it's been all good ever since, and that would have been fine too if I'd known to just dilute the overly strong infusion to taste. I like this tea packed densely and packed light; brewed hotter and cooler; and even after it cools. One of these days I'll have to try a smidgen cold-brewed overnight--bet I'll like it that way too.

#123 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 05:20 PM

A taste comparison of 4 loose young sheng puerhs:

Essence of Tea 2010 Bangwai Village http://www.essenceof...10-Bangwai.html

2010 Manmai Village http://www.essenceof...010-Manmai.html

2010 Mansai Village http://www.essenceof...010-Mansai.html

The Mandarins Tearoom 2005 Nannuo Mt. http://themandarinst...5-pre-ming.html

Conditions: 1.5 grams each tea, 30mL per infusion in tiny gaiwans, boiling water flash rinse, and water set to 205 degrees in the Pino so it would hold it quite hot for the multiple infusions.

Infusion timing was 10", 15", 15", added some cooler infusions just to see what difference it might make, 20" at 170 degrees, 30", 30"; and a few more infusions done the next day, at hotter temps, still nice but flavor fading.

The Manmai and Nannuo were more immediately approachable, sweet and light and a bit spicy without astringency or bitterness; the Mansai and Bangwai both had a stronger smokiness and bitterness especially at the beginning. Most interestingly, the Mansai and Bangwai also kept more complex flavors into the infusions, even the next day, with less bitterness but earthy/sweet/spicy there, while the Manmai and the Nannuo were close to hot water by that time.

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No photos of the actual teas, because I drank them from some darkly colored cups, hiding the color of the teas.

#124 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 06:23 PM

Forgot to add that those teas were part of a free tasting organized by another tea forum. There was also a fifth tea, but I did not have enough gaiwans to feature the Mandarin Tea Room's YiWu, which was also very nice in an earlier solo tasting.

I have a full cake of a different EoT young sheng, and am looking forward to that one too, since these were so delicious. But first, tonight, I have a date with another tea from the current TT&D to see if I can find some tropical flavors in it.

#125 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 10:33 PM

2006 Ripe Puerh Tea Tribute Brick by Haiwan Tea Factory, from Norbu

First time drinking this tea in a while. Like most bricks, it is challengingly compressed, and one of the teas that inspired me to buy some particularly pointed letter openers. Success! several grams of tea have just soaked up their ‘flash’ rinse quickly in my gaiwan. Earthy, sweet, fruity, plummy scents arise—makes me want to eat it as much as drink it.

Greg warns about overly long steeps at first—suggesting a possibility of off flavors. I find nothing like, but perhaps this is in part due to letting it ‘air out’ loosely wrapped in my puerh drawer. The first two steeps—no more than 30 seconds between the—are combined in my small yunomi, and deep red-brown liquor, and I want to drink fast but am waiting….tap, tap, tapping impatient feet—for it to cool. And the first sip is rewarding—deep, sweet, lovely, all the things promised in the smell of the wet leaf. And nothing whatsoever ‘off’ about it.

The leaves are still swelling and will eventually fill a good part of the gaiwan, so this should have a lot of steeps in it.

10 or so steeps in, the gaiwan is at least 1/3 full with very broken up leaves. It still requires a bit of care to avoid oversteeping—and responds well to a little dilution if I overdo it. Earthy, sweet, fruity, plummy. Rich body. Compared to the Norbu private label Lao Tou Cha nugget brick, this is an earthier tea, but equally delicious in a different way. And like that tea, it is very potent due to the density—a little goes long way. I really thought it was such a thin little sliver when I dropped it in the cup….

Many infusions later—certainly more than 20, maybe closer to 30—it is getting on towards sweet water, that gentle ending, but this with what are still very short infusions. Will give it longer to see if I can coax more out of it before we’re done. …… 1.5 L into it, the kettle is empty, but the tea leaves still have some sweet & spicy scent left.

#126 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 04:19 PM

Yesterday I finally brewed up a couple of free samples included in a recent order from Norbu, two loose young sheng puerhs: 2007 Spring Yong De Mao Cha and 2010 Spring Lao Ban Pen Mao Cha.

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Both of these have long intact-appearing leaves and a fair bit of stem. The leaves smell sweet and earthy, a stronger mushroom odor to the Lao Ban Pen than the 2007 Yong De.

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Yong De on left, Lao Ban Pen on right

I put 2 grams of each into my tiniest gaiwans, with 1.5 ounces near boiling water. After a flash rinse, both smell even stronger and more delicious.

First infusion, 205°F/96°C, 10":
YD--sweet anise
LBP--smoky, earthy, sweet

Second infusion, 205°F/96°C, 15":
YD--sweet anise, woody/earthy starting up
LBP--sweet and earthy, woody, bit of anise and smokiness lighter already

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Yong De on left, Lao Ban Pen on right

Third infusion, 205°F/96°C, 20":
YD--sweet anise, woody/earthy
LBP--sweet and earthy, woody, bit of anise, smokiness almost gone

Fourth infusion, 205°F/96°C, 20":
YD--sweet anise, woody/earthy, still the anise is very strong, bit of bitter aftertaste
LBP--earthy, sweet, smoky

Fifth infusion, 205°F/96°C, 35":
YD--sweet anise, earthy has retreated now, bitter/sweet aftertaste
LBP--sweet and earthy, bit of herbaceous flavor

Sixth infusion, 205°F/96°C, 60" (stopped to take a picture of the leaves):
YD--sweet anise and earthy, rich and strong
LBP--sweet and earthy, deep, warm, rich

Seventh infusion, 205°F/96°C, 1': both a little dilute, should have let them go longer, more sweet water with hints of anise (YD) or earthy (LBP)

Eighth infusion, 205°F/96°C, 3': oh, this is much better, my anise and earthy flavors are back. Still delicious, yum. Young sheng stars.

Losing count--10? 11? still wonderful, both of them. Troubling fact: I want to shoot the spent leaves, lay them out to show the size and pluck, but they're just not quitting, now 15, 16 infusions in. It will be a long night.

1.5 liter later (the kettle was filled completely when I started), they're not as rich, but still, a little better than just sweet water.

Wet leaves are are mix of light brown and green, but the LBP is more uniformly light green, and the leaves are a bit smaller than the YD.
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Yong De on left, Lao Ban Pen on right

#127 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 07:49 PM

1997 Heng Li Chang Bu Lang Sheng Puerh
Aged sheng puerh tea from Essence of Tea,

First try with this aged puerh. Using tap water, small porcelain gaiwan, 2 grams of tea, and 60-75mL water with each infusion. Water is just off the boil.

Dry leaves smell of sweet rich soil.

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First a flash rinse, then 20 second first infusion: sweet, earthy, anise, a hint of herby/spicy but no bitterness. The liquor turns my golden shino cup to deep red-orange.

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30 seconds 2nd: sweet, earthy, thick, liquor and a little bitter
30 seconds 3rd: sweet, earthy, little bitter
30 seconds 4th: still sweet, earthy, no bitter, bit of fruity
45 seconds 4th: sweet, earthy, little spiciness/resinous but not bitter

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60", 60", 60", 90"—color lightening, still sweet, mellow, earthy, bits of caramel and raisin or plum
2’, 2’, 3’—starting to lose it, heading towards sweet water. Going to try one more at 5 minutes—and there is still something there, even earthy and sweet coming forward despite having just eaten a mint. It’s not strong, but not quite just sweet water yet. Nice pu!

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The big question I was trying to answer with this order from Nada was how much better aged puerhs are than my current young shengs and shus. While this is a very smooth and pleasant tea, I can’t say that I love it 5 to 10 times more than some of the lovely but quite inexpensive young pus I’ve gotten from other sources.

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It’s definitely smooth and mellow in a way that has no parallel in my young shengs, but it is approached by the better of my young shus, and the young shengs have other attractions like smokiness and umami that are absent in teas like this.

#128 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 05:31 PM

A week or two ago, I finished off my sample packet of the 2006 Yong De Hand-braided Wild Arbor Sheng from Norbu, and it was time to break into the big beeng. But I wanted to get some good shots of the whole thing, because it is so amazingly beautiful as an intact cake. Time to show off my pu!

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Close up
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Closer up
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And the tea
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And there are a few more images in the flickr set here.

It's quite a tasty tea, in addition to being beautiful.

#129 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 09:01 PM

I missed making a note first time I drank my 2010 Banpen puerh from Essence of Tea. I think I started a note and then may have lost it someplace on my computer along with some photos of the tea. This time, no photos, but a review....

I broke off a small quantity of this one to enjoy now, although I intend to let most of it age a while.

For this infusion series, I used just 1.8 grams of tea in a very small gaiwan, which holds 50-60mL, and tap water at 205 degrees.

The dry leaf is quite dark, with some paler leaves twisted in with the rest. The scent is light, herbaceous, soil-like.

First a flash rinse, wait a minute or two, then a first flash infusion. Strongly herbaceous, some bitterness waiting in the wings, hint of sweet but only a hint. Leather, fresh-cut wood, umami noticeable after cooling, sipping more slowly.

2nd infusion was similar. 3rd infusion, still flash infusions, more sweetness starting to come to the fore, although the leather/earthy/umami is still dominant. 4th infusion, waited 5 seconds before starting to pour: sweet, anise/herb notes are stronger again. The leather/umami is still there but lightening, less overwhelming but still stronger than anything else. 5th, 10 seconds before pour: more sweet. 6th, similar, the long sweet finish starting to really take over. Yes, there is some bitter in there too, but my taste buds are doing a happy dance now. Nice nice nice. One more and I’ll be done for the evening [nope, make that 3, we’re up to 9 before retiring for the evening]. This is definitely one to continue tomorrow—want to see how far it can go.

10 and 11 down before I had this note open to edit: sweet, delicious, holding up well to some strong onion flavor in what I was eating before starting back with the tea. 12 was too short, about 5 seconds, just sweet water. 13, was barely patient enough to go 20 seconds (I am thirsty)—more flavor of herbs to back up the sweet—14, 15, 16, similar, beautifully balanced between sweet and herbaceous and sweet forest duff, tastebuds doing happy dance again. Then a horrible moment—I looked over for infusion 17 and the gaiwan was EMPTY. Filled, infused again, world righted itself on its axis. Whew.

18, 19, 20 still delicious, but starting to lighten up. Need to lengthen the infusions again. 21 to 2 minutes….still needs more. #22 will be 3 minutes, and was a little better. Going to push #23 for 5 minutes…..and it is again very nice. 10 minutes on #24, and it is nice, but back to nearly sweet water. Time to add water and go do some chores for an hour or two, maybe. #25 lost something to cooling down; #26 suggests the leaves are finally done.

Overall, an excellent experience, and this is while it is still only an infant tea.

#130 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 12:16 AM

Another 'baby' puerh from Essence of Tea tonight: finished a 2-day session with the 2011 Guafengzhai.

1.6 grams in 50mL tiny porcelain gaiwan (lots of broken bits because I was prying a bit off of one side and it got a little messy)
Water 205 degrees

Flash rinse—did not save—and only noticed later that a bit of water was left, like a grandpa-style ‘root’, that got incorporated into the first infusion, which is….strong. Campfire smoky gym socks strong. Still only a hint of bitter, but very powerful stuff.

2nd infusion, 10 seconds then poured, still very strong smoky umami stuff, but the sweet is able to show up at the front of each sip, and the aftertaste is spicy and herbaceous and bitter and still smoky.

3rd infusion, poured in, replaced kettle on stand, and poured out, less than 10 seconds: still very powerful stuff. I am so appreciating this lovely little gaiwan right now, the fit and the pour and the function for these fast infusions are just excellent. The tea is still transporting me back to childhood campfires, with a bit of sweet here and there.

4th infusion, same pour in/kettle/pour out, between 5 and 7 seconds, can’t be doing much more than rinsing what is already sweating out on the surface of the leaves, and still it has a powerful kick. A little more sweet apparent, though.

Side note: simply because I was in the mood for it, I started my day with some Tie Guan Yin, couldn’t exhaust those leaves with the time available before leaving for work, and am working on some more infusions after the leaves were stored int he fridge for the day, drinking one infusion of this to a couple of the puerh. It’s astonishing how clean and refined the flavor is in contrast to this rambunctious smoky pu!

5th infusion, still crazy-smokey-rambunctious, ham and campfire and sweet and bit of bitter herbs. 6th is settling in a bit, but I can see that it’s going to take a lot of infusions and a kettle full of water at 40mL per infusion to tame these leaves. 7th similar, the smoky veil is showing a little more of what is behind it, but still, powerful smoke.

If overwhelming, outrageous flavor now is a good predictor of aging well, this should be fabulous. But the kettle is empty and I do have to get some sleep eventually, so I’m setting the leaves aside for more tomorrow.

Took this tea out of the fridge again after 2 days (previously up to 8 infusions): starting the first few infusions with a meal of cheese and crackers, and like any good puerh, the tea cuts the richness well. And the strong cheese also helps mellow the smokiness of the tea.

By the 16th infusion, the tea is tasting more strongly of herbs and sweet anise, with the umami nearly gone.

The 25th infusion is still strong and deliciously herbaceous, astringent but not truly bitter. Very pleasant stuff.

Up to 30, and brewing by my thirst—some flash infusions, basically sweet water, to wet the palate, then a few more substantial, slower, showing persistent flavor beyond simple sweet water, amazing stamina this stuff has. Saying uncle at 32 infusions, that’s enough for now.

I am very encouraged to think of what this tea will be after it has settled a bit and the wildly smoky start has softened. As I've noted before, I do yet have enough of an interest to attempt any sort of serious temp/humidity controlled aging of puerh, but I've got a few beengs that are already showing some changes after just 1-2 years in my care, so I feel confident enough that I'm not wrecking them to buy one or two here and there.

#131 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 02:05 PM

Checking in today with the 2009 Lao Mansa sheng puerh from Norbu, the first pu I bought with aging deliberately in mind. It has sat in its wrapper, in a cloth bag, in a file drawer in my air-conditioned office for the past year plus.

I’ve dipped into this a few times since last year, and this time I’m using a piece that, when hydrated, fills the gaiwan between 1/3 and 1/2 full (should have measured it in grams, but I wasn't thinking about taking notes when I started). I started with a flash rinse, let the tea hydrate/wet a bit, then have been enjoying a series of quick, hot infusions—the Pino is set to 205, and I’ve been infusing 10-20 seconds, and mostly drinking them down very quickly. Lots of herbaceous flavor, sweetness, anise, but little outright bitterness.

It’s just delicious, and again, the biggest problem I foresee with this aging experiment may be trying to drink it sparingly enough to keep some around for a long time.

#132 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 11:00 AM

1997: CNNP Wild Yiwu Camphor Raw Puerh by CNNP

I got a sample of this one in a tea swap via another forum. I wanted to try to figure out how much of my love for the 2008 bamboo-aged Yi Wu I've gotten from Norbu was due to the Yi Wu starting material.

I started with 2.3 grams of very powerful smelling dry leaves in a small gaiwan (about 75 mL), water 205 degrees.

A bit dusty/musty, going to flash rinse before drinking an infusion

Waited a minute, then first infusion pour in/pour out—less than 10 second steep

Let it cool a bit—grabbed the wrong cup for this—it is mild, sweet, bit of smokiness and earthy with the camphor. As the infusion sits between sips, the smokiness, earthiness and camphor all intensify, and the sweetness drops into the background.

2nd infusion—also pour in/pour out—sweet, smoky, earthy, camphor, but the first note is the sweet. Long camphorous aftertaste.

3rd infusion—pour in/pour out—the sweet is still there, and the smoky/earthy/camphor is starting to overtake the sweet even at the beginning of the sip.

Brought it home with me in the gaiwan, then left overnight, starting again in the morning, and it is again earthy, camphorous, smoky, powerful stuff….and this is another flash infusion.

Longer infusion is strong, earthy, camphorous, a little sweet….and if this is after a dozen years of aging, what must it have been like when it was young? 5th infusion was longer, about a minute, because I forgot it, but even though stronger than I really enjoy, it still was not bitter or actually unpleasant.

Quite an amazing tea.

Another half dozen short infusions character changing only gradually.

Infusion 12 still is potent, but the sweet is coming more strongly now, again. Those early infusion were rather rough, but this is really getting very nice. At this rate, this is going to be a 20-30 infusion tea, methinks…but will need to heat up another kettle’s worth of tea.


2.3 grams may be a whole day’s worth of tea at this rate.

Started this one Friday evening, just four infusions; continued Saturday, probably 20 infusions; and Sunday, another 4 or 5 before I stopped. At about 2 oz per infusion, that was a couple of liters of tea from 2.3 grams of leaf!

The later infusions were well towards sweet water, but still had distinct flavor. Mmmm.

And the leaves were quite impressive—most were quite broken up, but look at the size of the one on the left—penny added for scale. Big leaf with a very big flavor.

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1997 Wild Yi Wu puerh by debunix, on Flickr

#133 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:05 PM

2004 Shen Shan Lao Shu by Haiwan Tea Factory

I got a free small sample of this puerh with an order from Jing Tea Shop. It came in a tiny bag that kept slipping to the bottom of my puerh box, so it was overlooked, quite literally, for a long time.

I set up a first infusion series this evening without remembering to weigh the small piece of leaves first—d’oh! It was likely between 1 and 2 grams of compressed leaf, set up in a cheap 60mL yixing pot. Water was heated to 205 degrees.

I first flash rinsed, then set up my first infusion and….forgot about it, for several minutes. I did sip that one momentarily, but though it had very promising anise and caramel notes, a strong bitterness on top of that made it undrinkable.

I managed the next half dozen infusions better. I put a splash of cool water into the cup while preparing a flash infusion of the tea, and the little bit of cool water drops the temperature when I add the tea so that I can drink it straight off, without waiting for it to cool. The liquor is anise-caramel-sweet, with a mild earthy undertone, delicious. Gradually I’m increasing the time for each infusion, up to about 45 seconds now, and while I think I’m going to get another half dozen infusions easily, it’s sad to think of how many I missed due to that first mistakenly long infusion—probably a good 6-8 more infusions were lost.

Fortunately, even the small sample should provide 2 or 3 more small sessions like this one.

#134 Naftal

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Posted 06 February 2015 - 04:33 PM

When I had dim sum at Cai in Chicago, they served a pot of pu-erh and chrysanthemum flowers.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)