Pu-erh brewing techniques
In anticipation of trying the sample puerh I will be receiving. Woot! Woot! I was wondering how you brew yours.
I have only tried three different puerhs. None of them in cake form. Two were in bag form. The first was Numi. It gets pretty good reviews. The Second was Yamamotoyama. I preferred it. Deep earthy taste like an autumn forest floor smells. The loose version I have tried looks like burgandy wine in the cup but has a odd fishy odor to it. Research seems to indicate this is due to it a badly cooked pour quality tea. hey it was a dollar an ounce.
I have prepared all of these western style. Eh- hahhhh. ok what I mean is I used boiling water and 3 to 5 minutes of steeping. It seemed to work ok to me. I get multiple infusions out of the loose version – at least 3.
In reading I have learned many, maybe most, prepare puerh by using 3 to 7 grams of tea. A quick rinse. Then 10 seconds for the first drinking steep. This seems really short. Is this how you prepare it? What water temp do you use? I want to get the most from my tasting experience.
I use the recommendations in “The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook”, Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J Heiss’ excellent book. They suggest (for pu-erh) infusion times as follows: 1st-rinse, 2nd-25 seconds, 3rd-30 seconds, 4th-35 seconds, 5th- 40 seconds, … 9th-60 seconds, 10th-90 seconds. I’ve found this to be pretty close to my personal preferences.
Near boiling water with short infusions works pretty well. If you have a small tea vessel like a gaiwan, it’s easy to do quick infusions while also holding onto your leaves. You’d think that with such a short amount of time that the tea would be weak, but it’s really quite good. Over the course of all the short infusions you get a nice spectrum of flavour.
Of course if you don’t like how it turns out, adjust the water temperature or steep time.
Thanks for backing up my research. In my head this doesn’t make sense but I will try it this way. In fact I will start Monday with my stinky poor quality stuff. Maybe all it really needs is to be steeped correctly to become at least not offensive.
Are we talking about ripe pu’er or raw?
For ripe pu’er, and aged pu’er over 15-20 years, I would use water at a full, rolling boil. I would also rinse twice, both to rinse off any dust, etc., and possibly kill any cooties, but also to start to open up any compressed chunks. If you’re using a tea in compressed form, I would try a mixture of intact chunks and loose / broken up bits.
For young (< 10 years) raw pu’er, I would experiment with cooler water as well as boiling, and see what you prefer. If you just want a good tasting result, cooler water (and smaller amount of tea) may give better results; if you want to stress the tea to see whether it’s good, or if you have a higher tolerance for bitterness or astringency, boiling water may be better.
Here is the way I brewed my inexpensive loose cooked puerh today. Poured enough boiling water over the leaf (with a few chocolate mint leaves) to cover it. Let sit for 10 seconds and poured it off. Poured enough water for a cup and let steep for 30 seconds. Poured into cup. The brew is light in color but tasted very smooth. Even the mint liked the short steeping time. The next cup was much darker and more like my usual steep. I did not try additional cups but pretty certain it would easily go 3 or 4 more (10oz cups).
I learned two things from this. First, very short steeps work incredibly well. Second, if I had let the leaf rest for a couple minutes after rinsing I am pretty sure the first cup would have been darker. Ok, three things. The large number of steeps people claim with puerh does not seem outlandish especially if you use a smaller cup size than my mug.
I believe I am ready to try better quality young cake puerh. Bring it on.
I agree with K S that puerh should be brewed very shortly in the boiling water, if we steep it in a long time, the taste will be bitter and astringent. And also agree with the view of Dorothy, Gaiwan will be the perfect vessel for doing the quick infusion. In Chinese style of brewing tea, Gaiwan is a very important vessel, many teas can be brewed through Gaiwan, including puerh. I think the most important elements for brewing a satisfied cup of tea are: temperature and steeping time. When using Gaiwan to brew the puerh, the rinse should be immediately, and the first brewing time only should be last 10-15 seconds, with an additional 15-20 seconds is added to the steeping each time.
For more details you can check the article:http://www.teavivre.com/info/brew-an-enjoyable-pu-erh-tea/