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Jim Cotter

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

136 posts in this topic

Article by Andrew Jacobs in the New York Times on the speculative bubble in Pu-erh tea and the impact on farmers, manufacturers and merchants in Menghai China.
A pleasantly aromatic beverage that promoters claim reduces cholesterol and cures hangovers, Pu’er became the darling of the sipping classes in recent years as this nation’s nouveaux riches embraced a distinctly Chinese way to display their wealth, and invest their savings.

The article notes that at least 1,000 of the 3,000 tea manufacturers and merchants have gone out of business, and farmers have begun planting more profitable crops like rice and corn.

The article is uneven. A mixture of interesting reporting, weak research and what appears to be a marginal understanding of tea in general, not saved by what is either a marginal understanding of wine or a wine dis-afficianado attitude. There also is a not too subtly disparaging attiude toward the idea of medicinal and health benefits of pu-ehr, while ignoring the possibility that there might be research available, but the bulk of it just might be in Chinese rather than English.

The writer also compares Pu-ehr to "the Western fetishization of wine" and then goes on to list various factors that "enthusiasts" consider in Pu-ehr tea: older plants vs younger, "wild "trees, oxidations levels, loose-leaf vs compacted, spring vs fall harvest. The idea that knowledgeable wine and tea producers and consumers think that differences in types of plants make a difference, that differences in proccessing make a difference, that time of harvest makes a difference is reflective of "fetishization"?

Curiously, the paper reports that "From 1999 to 2007, the price of Pu’er, a fermented brew invented by Tang Dynasty traders, increased tenfold, to a high of $150 a pound for the finest aged Pu’er, before tumbling far below its preboom levels." And then a little later in the piece, "Prized vintages from the 19th century have sold for thousands of dollars a wedge." If I am not too far off, I think it was (and still may be) in four and perhaps even five figures per pound for the finest aged Pu-ehr.

Perhaps an editor will clean it up before you read this.

Hello-Pu'erh is indeed similar to wine, but I think it is wrong to use the word "fetishization". Age and growing conditions have an effect on both as does the method used in processing.I think the writer of the article is showing his lack of interest in both wine and tea by using such a word.


"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)

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I received this puerh from Ming at Vital TeaLeaf in Chinatown SF during the Fancy Food Show. He has gifted me with many great teas before (including a nice sized portion of an $800/lb tea on this visit also), and knew I didn't really care for the 6 or 12 year puerhs he has given me before. This one is aged inside of a tangerine skin and it was much less odoriferous, but had much of the positive tastes of the other puerhs. I could see myself drinking this more often.

gallery_41282_4708_40165.jpg


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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I received this puerh from Ming at Vital TeaLeaf in Chinatown SF during the Fancy Food Show.  He has gifted me with many great teas before (including a nice sized portion of an $800/lb tea on this visit also), and knew I didn't really care for the 6 or 12 year puerhs he has given me before.  This one is aged inside of a tangerine skin and it was much less odoriferous, but had much of the positive tastes of the other puerhs.  I could see myself drinking this more often.

gallery_41282_4708_40165.jpg

Lucky you! I have had tangerine pu-erh and liked it very much. Bamboo pu can also be a smooth alternative.

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In an aside in another topic, v. gautam posted:

[btw, Yunnan has a dramatic Pu-erh glut these years owing to overplanting, $3-4 kg for new & for many years to come, so the astronomical prices here seem astonishing].

mikepetro has posted about the pu-erh market uptopic, but does anyone have any additional info on the economics of pu and the current situation?

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Mike Petro pretty much covered all of this in previous posts, but here is my take on the current situation:

Until the "price bubble" broke, many plantation tea growers in Yunnan diverted their usual production to mao cha (the "raw material" tea used to make finished Pu-Erh) simply to take advantage of higher market prices. Most of this crop used to be used to make excellent green and red teas before the price spike, and, much to my delight, Yunnan's tea growers are back to producing excellent green and red teas again now. A large portion of the glut of raw materials came from these "new" sources of mao cha.

Pu-Erh tea is really just like any other commodity. None of this is exactly high economic theory. Supply and demand dictate the prices of the raw materials between producer and factory, and the market dictates the prices of finished products on the consumer side.

High prices (on the high side for Yunnan teas anyways) will still remain for the more highly sought after source materials from the famous Pu-Erh growing mountain areas simply because there is a limit to the amount of material produced there, although the price for these raw materials has basically fallen over the past couple of years. (mao cha prices in 2009 are higher than they were in 08, but still lower than 2007)

To touch on a topic that Mike Petro brought up above, Pu-erh teas are labor intensive to produce, and the production of the loose mao cha is still done on a smallish scale. The best mao cha used in manufacturing Pu-Erh is still largely hand picked & processed in small batches. There is an art to processing the mao cha, and an art to selecting and/or blending it for a good finished product. All of this contributes to the price of the final tea released on the market simply because a lot of highly skilled people are involved in Pu-Erh production, and this doesn't even take into account pressing, packaging, transportation, etc.

Another thing to keep in mind about Pu-Erh tea is that a lot of people got into the Pu-Erh tea business back in 2003-06 buying high priced mao cha and starting their own new brands, and a lot of people completely lost their asses. Yes, there is a lot of not super high quality tea out there that nobody can sell at the prices that they paid for the raw materials. I think at this point a lot of people who decided to buy in late are starting to try to sell their tea for as much as they can get to mitigate their losses and move on to their next get-rich-quick scheme.

That doesn't mean that all the tea produced in that time period by small factories is all bad though! The important thing is to taste whatever it is you buy before buying it. Most vendors offer sample portions of their Pu-Erh, so buy some samples and see what you think. If you like it, buy a cake or a tong and enjoy it over the months or years to come. If it sucks, don't buy it again and let the rest of us tea drinkers and collectors know!


Greg

www.norbutea.com

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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.

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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.

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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:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/debunix/sets/72157621660566348/

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.com/photos/debunix/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?

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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

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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.

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 (log)

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

How do you tell that it is cooked?

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

http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php?mai...49eab04013ad847

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

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?

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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 (log)

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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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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.

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.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/debunix/sets/72157621660566348/

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

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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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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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.

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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.com/photos/debunix/3744672109/

closer up:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/debunix/3744680087/

and the label on the older one

http://www.flickr.com/photos/debunix/3744664959/

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