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I’ve been exploring puerh teas for a year or so now, and have come to find that the sheng (green or raw) type, initially feared and hated, is now my preference. Raw stuff is a work in progress, full of intrigue and complexity, although often with some bitterness and astringency. Indeed, a sheng which is too mellow early-on may not have enough ‘oomph’ to morph, with age, into something uniquely splendid.

This Yunnan Pu Erh Gold tea is not a sheng. It is a shu (ripe) puerh. Think “shu is through” (fermenting). And what’s more, it’s a shu which has been engineered for the Western palate and gaze: gussied up in gold and toned down in taste, with most of the funky horse stable quality long gone. A year ago, this would have pleased me. Now, I find it plainly boring (although amazingly smooth) like a nondescript, albeit very woody, black tea. Lately, I’m apt to add milk and sugar to hot shu puerh or to have it iced in the afternoon. Really, it’s good, rich, dark, earthy! And I guess it should be considered an accomplishment, because “richly-flavored yet smooth” seems to be the sought-after accolade for a shu puerh.

“Excellent of it’s kind,” rating objectively here. And off goes the rest of my sample, into the TTB, so others can experience the “Perfect Shu.”

I want to encourage others to try sheng (raw/green) puerhs. Beg, borrow or swap, or buy the readily available sample sizes, and don’t start with a banzhang (too strong). PuerShop and JasEtea ship from within the US. YunnanSourcing and others ship all over from China. Use less leaf and cooler water, so the taste won’t shock, in brewing tiny portions. If you don’t like it (yet), stick it in an unglazed clay jar, paper bag or cardboard box (NOT foil or plastic; this tea wants a bit of air) and shove it to the back of the cupboard to age. Try it again in a year or 6 months. I’ve even bought a few small (100 to 200 gram) cakes of compressed sheng puerh, so that even a cranky old crone like me can anticipate turning 75 … ;)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec
jjshapiro

I agree. Although I started out with shu, i.e. ripe, black pu-erh teas, which I still love, I only recently started to appreciate the sheng, i.e. raw/green pu-erhs. There is something about their pleasant bitterness that is really quite attractive. I have particularly enjoyed the Yong De Mao Cha that can be purchased from Silk Road Teas and Norbu Tea. Like you, I’ve also gotten some compressed sheng pu-erh. I personally have taken to drinking all of the pu-erh teas in the evening, with and after dinner until I go to bed.

Cofftea

I do not like shu unless it’s flavored. But I this is a pretty good one. Much lighter than most shus.

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jjshapiro

I agree. Although I started out with shu, i.e. ripe, black pu-erh teas, which I still love, I only recently started to appreciate the sheng, i.e. raw/green pu-erhs. There is something about their pleasant bitterness that is really quite attractive. I have particularly enjoyed the Yong De Mao Cha that can be purchased from Silk Road Teas and Norbu Tea. Like you, I’ve also gotten some compressed sheng pu-erh. I personally have taken to drinking all of the pu-erh teas in the evening, with and after dinner until I go to bed.

Cofftea

I do not like shu unless it’s flavored. But I this is a pretty good one. Much lighter than most shus.

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Note: I’m open to offers to swap tea samples. If you can’t message me, just comment on one of my tea notes, and I’ll respond.

I am fascinated and deeply impressed by the artistry and skill which coaxes such an array of qualities from one species of leaf. In 2009, I founded San Antonio Tea & Herb Enthusiasts. For intimate tastings with a small gathering, I’m practicing Asian-style tea service along the lines of Chinese gongfu cha yi. It’s a joy, turning people on to good tea! http://www.meetup.com/SA-Tea-Herb/

The most recent sign of my conversion to the deeply-steeped side: I’ve turned three large file boxes into “tea humidors” for aging pu-erh cakes and bricks at 65% humidity. Remote sensors within the “pumidors” relay the temperature and humidity readings to a base station on my desk.

I write about tea culture for the Examiner online newspaper: http://www.examiner.com/x-49007-San-Antonio-Tea-Examiner

My tea rating system:

0 – 10 … Ugh, throw it out
11 – 20 … Barely drinkable
21 – 40 … Passes for decent tea
41 – 60 … Good but unremarkable
61 – 80 … Delicious cuppa
81 – 90 … Wonder-full !
91 – 100 … The Stuff of Legends !

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San Antonio TX USA

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