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Carolyn said

Pu-Erh Preferences

I’m wondering about how those who love Pu-erhs go about choosing good ones. Do you have a favorite importer? A favorite Chinese pu-erh factory? Do you prefer fermented to raw or vice versa? Is there anything in a description of a pu-erh that will immediately warn you not to get it? Similarly, is there anything in the description that will cause you to head directly to that pu-erh? Do you buy beengs and store them? Where?

On preparation: are you using Yixing pots? Gaiwan? Ordinary teaware? Something special I’ve never heard of?

Thanks in advance for any insight. I feel quite at sea with pu-erhs.

21 Replies
PeteG said

So many questions…so little time…as it takes time to develop its flavours and distinctive variety of scents…I will ponder your many questions and hopefully provide you with my interpretation of what I enjoy…

Carolyn said

Thank you. I will await your insight with great interest.

PeteG said

One of my local tea houses(Sawadee Tea House) will bring in anything a customer asks…I know that the owner is very particular when it comes to organic teas. She does stock non organic but she is very cautious when she discusses it with her tea master who sources the teas for her. When it comes to Pu erh – it is difficult to locate ‘organic’ pu. There are T companies that are now producing organic but with all the chemicals that have been sprayed to produce the ‘new’ currency and oft high priced pu erh we have to be cautious on what and where we purchase our precious Pu Erh. I have purchased via ebay(yunnan sourcing) and thru yunnan sourcing directly. As well fm puerhshop.com and so far so good. I am beginning to acquire pu erh in brick and qi zi bin cha(7 cakes), aged/green loose leaf, as well as wrapped in citrus peels. When I first was married, I was asked how the marriage was going and I oft felt like I could not answer because it was too early on in our ‘dance’. Well, after 15 yrs I can just begin to share how I truly feel about my lovely marriage – with all its ups and dwns…my relationship with Pu Erh is somewhat like my marriage I am blessed to have found a perfect tea…now I require time and space to develop an intimate relationship with my pu and I only hope that tea lovers will take a moment and truly savour the gift that is Pu Erh.

Carolyn said

That is quite poetic and very sweet. It makes me wonder whether there are people with bad relationships with their tea just as a person might have a bad relationships with their spouse. I have a very, very good relationsihp with my beloved that has lasted 30 years and it seems impossible to me to tell what part of me is him and what part of me is me (and vice versa) so I do not know how I could express what he is like these days.

I’m glad to see that you have ordered from the puerhshop.com and found them to be a good source since they are who I am eyeing purchasing pu-erh samples from. I’d never heard of yunnan sourcing and it’s great to have another name.

When it comes to PU Erh tea you have to make a stop at Distinctly Tea ,,Stratford or Waterloo location! There selection is amazing .I never knew there was such a choice in this new to the scene tea. Great for your stomach and low in caffiene!

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Cofftea said

I’ve tried one pu erh and didn’t even get past the 2nd sip. Now I think the only pu erh I’ll ever try again is a chocolate or chai pu erh… or maybe mix the 2.

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Angrboda said

I’m not very experienced with Pu-ehrs yet. I’ve tried a few from teaspring.com and I’ve had one from my local shop that I just raced through. All those were before I really started paying this much attention to the flavour. It’s definitely something I want to explore further.
I do have a small yixing pot devoted to pu-ehrs though. It has a chinese dragon on it, where the handle of the pot is the dragon’s body and the spout is the the dragon’s mouth. I think it’s a gorgeous pot and I feel it fits the type of tea. :) It looks a bit like this http://www.teapotauthority.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/dragon-egg-yixing-teapot-300×241.jpg, but the egg on mine is sort of stripy and the dragon details are a bit different too.

Carolyn said

It’s a very cute yixing! We have just ordered a yixing for us (actually we ordered two). I am very anxious to see them. Here are their images:

Tiny Dragonfly teapot (for pu-erhs): http://twitpic.com/vgu4w

Larger Elephant teapot (for The Simple Leaf’s Dawn): http://twitpic.com/vgu1p

Angrboda said

Ooooh, those are gorgeous, Carolyn. I think I like the elephant one best. It looks very detailed. Apart from being useful, I find a lot of yixing pots are actually also enormously decorative.
My dragon isn’t as detailed as the one in the picture, but I like the egg on mine better. :)

Carolyn said

Thank you. My beloved picked out the elephant pot for the two of us. It seems very appropriate for the Dawn tea since it comes from Arunachal Pradesh in India and the teapot seems to have a real Indian flair to me.

I think that the dragonfly teapot being so small will really help me understand pu-erhs better since it will give me more opportunities to resteep and drink.

Your tea pot looks delightful and I can see that a striped egg would be more appealing. When you use your pot do you pour the tea over it? I saw this in a video on using the yixing pots. (Here it is. It’s halfway down the page titled “Making Tea in a Yixing Pot”) http://hubpages.com/hub/Yixing-Teapots

Angrboda said

Gosh no, I’m not even remotely that ritualised. I just use it as I would a ‘normal’ pot. I can see the purpose of scalding everything with the hot water, but using the two first steeps like that kind of puzzles me. It looked like they were seasoning the pot, but obviously that wasn’t it. Maybe it had something to do with bringing out the aroma or something?

I didn’t even season mine first. I’m not using it for any one particular kind of pu-ehr, so I just rinsed it thoroughly with clean, boiled water and started brewing normally. If and when I get the next yixing pot, I’ll probably condition it properly first. I’ve been thinking I’d like to have one for Tie Guan Yin when I find my ideal brand in both taste and purchase.
The pot in the blue box with a sort of marble-like look, that’s how my dragon egg looks.

Will said

Rinsing serves a few purposes. Firstly, with compressed puer that has been broken off in mostly intact chunks, you won’t get that much strength in the first couple of brews. Also, puer is not always the most hygienically produced tea, and while a boiling water rinse won’t necessarily get rid of any cooties that might be around, it’ll at least rinse off some dust or other random stuff that might be on the tea. With Oolong tea, especially the rolled type, the rinse also helps to “awaken” the tea.

Rinsing is a religious issue – some people do it all the time; other people never do it, and others still do it selectively, depending on the tea. At the very least, preheat the pot before you put the tea leaves in. I would recommend doing at least one quick rinse as well, but it’s really your call.

Making tea in it should be all the “seasoning” you need in most cases, though it’s not a bad idea to boil the pot gently for a little in some filtered water, especially if it’s a new pot that’s been coated to make it look shiny in the store, or a used pot. You can also pour any rinses or leftover tea over the pot to help season it as you use it.

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Erynn said

I got a lovely pu-ehr from sometime in the 1970s from Shiuwen at Floating Leaves. I use a small ordinary ceramic teapot for it and serve it to friends on special occasions. I’d love to have a special yixing pot for pu-ehrs but I don’t drink them often enough to really justify the expense. The yixing I do have is for oolongs. The 1970s aged pu-ehr is magnificent, probably the best pu-ehr I’ve ever had with a smooth deep earthy flavor and a rich scent that lasts forever. I have to ask Shiuwen for the name of the company she imported it from. She got it for a song and sold it at a very inexpensive price so naturally it’s all gone now! It was pricey but worth every penny.

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I’m fairly new to pu-erh also, so I’m glad to see this thread! I will be getting my first yixing pot soon, courtesy of Samovar, and I’ve been wondering how important it is to only use a specific variety of pu-erh in it. It sounds like, as an amateur, I could get away with making it a general pu-erh pot? Or should I try to stick to the Maiden’s Ecstasy it comes with?

I will also be trying several new pu-erhs soon, thanks to Bon Teavant! (http://bonteavant.com/ ) They offered free samples (with a small shipping fee) through twitter a few days ago: "tasting five new puerh tea samples as possibilities for the market. Would anyone like to sample teas for the market?: info at bonteavant dot com " I’m guessing the sample offer may still be available, is why I mention it here.

Cofftea said

It is my understanding that you should stick w/ one type of pu erh (unflavored cooked or unflavored raw) per pot, but you don’t necessarily need to reserve it for just, say, Maiden’s Ecstasy.

That makes sense, and is much less stringent than I was thinking, so thanks! Now I just have to figure out which type it is…

Will said

Most people I know try to at least keep separate Yixing pots for general types – young sheng, older sheng, shu. Personally, I’d suggest using a porcelain gaiwan or porcelain tea pot until you start to get a sense of what type(s) you are likely to be making frequently.

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Will said

I prefer aged (> 20 year old) sheng (raw) puer that’s reasonably dry-stored. But given that it’s often difficult to find something I really like that is affordable for everyday drinking, I drink other kinds of tea… sometimes puer, but more often not. Other puer that I’ll drink are younger sheng with some wetter storage, younger sheng that I’m trying out, occasionally shu (ripe) puer.

For tasting young sheng, I tend to use a porcelain brewing vessel sometimes (at least for trying a new tea), but the rest of the time I tend to use a Yixing pot.

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haitao said

I’ve got one vendor for aged puerh – http://www.essenceoftea.co.uk

Aged tea is a difficult area to explore, but on the most part, you can’t go wrong with any of their aged teas. The price is usually a good indication of the quality here & they’ve done a great job of filtering out the ones that are a waste of money or not worth drinking. There are also some amazing finds here – try the 1997 Bulang.

For young puerhs, Yunnan Sourcing or Puerh Shop might be good bets. I’ve also heard of Jas-ETea for young puerh, but I’ve not tried them.

With preparation – shu puerh or aged puerh are best in an yixing pot, but young puerh might also be good in a gaiwan.

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Cofftea said

Oh my gosh- I can’t believe I never updated my preferences here! Thanks to the wonderful Carolyn (who’s now back, yay!) I love sheng, although I do not prefer the pepperyness of a Yunnan Sheng. Amber or Golden shus are my next choice after Yunnan shengs, then other shus which I don’t really care for but will drink if served and moderately enjoy. A lot of people are drinking the Vietnamese Shu now and based on the tasting notes I think I might actually like it!

Yi xing will be my favored preparation, I just haven’t gotten my butt in gear to season it yet.

As for parameters, I think I’ll stick w/ Carolyn’s suggestion of rinsing, heavy leafage, little water, and extremely short steeps. I can’t ever see myself steeping any sort of pu erh for 3-5min. The one time I did, it was HORRIBLE.

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bumping

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