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Jim Cotter

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

136 posts in this topic

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

3913690978_ae3171b16c.jpg

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.

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Bought an interesting Puerh today:

3914144873_73d5445d24.jpg

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.

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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 (log)

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If I remember correctly what I sent you, that is a shu (as you guessed) pu-erh 100 g tuo that I got in a tong last year from Scott at Yunnan Sourcing on eBay. As shu typically does, this has improved significantly over the past 15 months or so since I bought them.


Edited by Richard Kilgore correct mg to g (log)

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Several months ago I bought a couple ounces of a new Pu-erh from Greg at Norbutea.com - a 2009 Norbu Lao Cha Tou. It still had a little of the usual new shu funky fermentation hanging on to it, so I put it in a plain white paper bag and let it air out, not trying to brew it until today. It's doing fine now, the fermentation funk is gone and it is very smooth with a pleasant camphor note. I expect it will continue to improve over the next 6 - 12 months, so I'll probably order a brick.

This shu is very compact little nuggets and it can tolerate, yes benefits from, a little longer 1st and second infusions, but is sufficiently open by the third or fourth to pull back a bit. I did my usual 20 second rinse, followed by a 10, 15, 30 and the first two were a bit thin. The third infusion at 30 was just right. So I would start with 20 next time. This was with 3.2 g in a 55 ml gaiwan with boiling or just barely off-boil water.

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I may let this one sit in the drawer for a while before I start playing iwth it.

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Several months ago I bought a couple ounces of a new Pu-erh from Greg at Norbutea.com - a 2009 Norbu Lao Cha Tou. It still had a little of the usual new shu funky fermentation hanging on to it, so I put it in a plain white paper bag and let it air out, not trying to brew it until today. It's doing fine now, the fermentation funk is gone and it is very smooth with a pleasant camphor note. I expect it will continue to improve over the next 6 - 12 months, so I'll probably order a brick.This shu is very compact little nuggets and it can tolerate, yes benefits from, a little longer 1st and second infusions, but is sufficiently open by the third or fourth to pull back a bit. I did my usual 20 second rinse, followed by a 10, 15, 30 and the first two were a bit thin. The third infusion at 30 was just right. So I would start with 20 next time. This was with 3.2 g in a 55 ml gaiwan with boiling or just barely off-boil water.

I may let this one sit in the drawer for a while before I start playing iwth it.

This has rested long enough to go ahead and try it, I continued to brew infusions after posting the above, and it just got better.

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I have been enjoying the Rishi Ancient pu-erh that WC sent me a sample of and which I subsequently ordered.

This pu erh comes in small 5-6 gram cakes that I steep in a large mug with about 14 ounces of water.

This pu erh cha is robust and very smooth. It has no funk. It is not the deepest most rubyst pu erh I've had (but is still rich enough), probably a 7 on a scale of ten, but that makes it nice for a daily drinker.

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Glad to hear you're enjoying it.

One thing I really love about that tea is how forgiving it is--forget it a bit too long, and it doesn't make you regret it. Perfect for the office, or for introducing someone to the idea of puerh. It got me interested enough to buy my first beeng.

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Today, I'm drinking a ripe/shu puerh, the Mangyan Guoyan Golden Peacock from Norbutea. Sweet, earthy, a little fruity, a friendly pu. This time not really brewed gongfu, but with multiple infusions mixed into the thermos, with a little skill perhaps in the timing of the infusions, and it holds its own very well there.

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Hi, I guess it is an interesting topic for the frequent Pu Er drinkers to judge the taste difference between the bush Pu Er tea and tree Pu Er tea. This is a basic step to judge the valuse of a Pu er, whether it has high potential to collect or storage.


Providing fine teas and promote tea culture is always a pleasure job. JK Tea Shop

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Bush vs Tree is not a difference I'm familiar with for Puerh. I've bought some Puerh from Rishi that is labelled 'ancient trees' but none of the other I've bought has labels that mentioned anything about bushes or trees.

What difference would you be looking for? And what defines a bush or a tree when they're all the same plant?

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small arbor.JPGarbor.jpgtea bush.jpgIn China, there is a strict and clear definition on the Pu Er tea plants. If the tea plant is without the main trunk, short, growing in Yunnan, then this tea plant is tea bush.

If the tea plant has its main trunk, tall, then it is the arbor; In the arbor tea trees, there is also small arbor tree(within 150 years old); we will only define the old arbor tree tea for over 200 years old.

Check the pictures for your reference.

Bush, Small arbor, arbor Pu Er teas diverse a lot in its taste, aroma, throat feeling.

Take green Pu Er with 1 year old as an example:

Bush, taste is very astrigent, less sweetness and throat feeling.

small arbor, taste is good, but compared to arbor, it still has some astrigent; sweetness is good, but its throat feeling is not as deep as the arbor.

arbor, thick, mellow taste, with super long-lasting sweetness, throat feeling, and high aroma.

The difference of the three varieties lie in their interior ingredients in the leaves. So that is why arbor Pu Er teas are so expensive and limited in amount. In the market, even in China, no factories produce the puer arbor Pu Er tea, because of limited amount, low profit, except some tea experts collect the arbor Pu Er tea Maocha to make their own private collection or sell as the luxury teas.


Providing fine teas and promote tea culture is always a pleasure job. JK Tea Shop

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