some suggestions for new puerh drinkers -- SHENG

I hope Gingko will forgive me. I have taken her suggestions for new puerh drinkers, SHU, and modified them for sheng. There is some material added, too. I worked this up for my meetup group’s discussion board, then decided to share it here. Gingko, let me know what you think … :)


Anyone can open a bottle of expensive wine and it tastes great (decanting considerations aside). The quality of a tea experience, however (assuming you start with good tea and good water), depends to a great extent on the person brewing it.

A lot of people taste pu-erh and decide once is enough. The reason? Either they have started the pu-erh journey with the wrong type of pu-erh for a pu-newbie, or the tea has been incorrectly prepared.

Steeping pu-erh is a lot like steeping oolong. If you have no experience with getting 5 or more good steeps from a well-made oolong, you are ill-equipped to correctly prepare pu-erh tea. And if you are steeping good oolong or pu-erh tea just once, well ….. I have to say, that is a sad and sorry shame.

Before steeping, many sheng puerh’s need to be rinsed once or twice. Pour hot water to cover the tea, leave on a few seconds, and drain the water off. How long is a few seconds? Usually 10 to 30 seconds. You will determine how long, and whether to rinse once or twice, from experience. Some people like to let the pu-erh “rest” a minute or two after rinsing, before the first steep, to allow the leaves to begin to open.

For young (

8 Replies

thanks – very good information here!

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Thank for the great information, it’s very helpful.

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Pamela, I enjoy reading it! We could form a writing team :-D

When selecting sheng, I do use very different criteria from those used for shu. For shu, I tend to stick to large factories. But for young sheng, I tend to stay away from them.

Gingko, how nice to hear from you! Would you care to mention a few names of the smaller factories which you prefer for selection of younger sheng? I’ve seen these names on your Life in Teacup site (did i manage to pick out the actual factory names?):
1. Mang Fei
2. Guan Zi Zai
3. Bu Lang Mountain
4. Da Dian

Pamela, it’s extremely hard to recommend small factories, because there are so many of them. Many of them operate in small scales and don’t make much tea each year. Eventually one has to rely on tasting a lot of samples.

Dou Ji mentioned in your writing is a bright star of small factory. It’s relatively new but has gained reputation very fast.

Guan Zi Zai is another fast growing one.

Mang Fei and Bu Lang are names of tea regions, and many producers make tea from these regions.

Da Dian is a relatively new one. I like it very much but it’s still unknown to a lot of people.

And there are many, many more. Currently I just taste whatever tea I could bump into, and decide whether I want to stock up based on the taste. But there are a lot more samples than I could ever finish tasting. So I would just let faith take me to teas, and make decisions based on what I’ve tasted :-D

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Very nice posting, with good advice! I wish I had this information before I first tried pu’erh tea. Now that it has been a few years, I laugh at my first efforts, and am glad that there are some good tea people out there that gave me their pearls of wisdom. If you do buy pu’erh tea from an Asian Market — don’t be intimidates, and ask for advice. I found that almost every market has at least one person who is a bona fide tea aficionado. And they may know more about the pu’erh’s they carry than some random salesperson in a big mall tea store. I have been lucky that way, and was even treated to my first gong fu tea experience from a young man who came from Yunnan and was so glad to find someone to share a cup of tea with. :)

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Missy said

Thank you for sharing! I’ve been researching pu’eh tea a bit. It seems pretty interesting. I have to say I am intimidated by it a bit. I feel I need a bit more experience to fully understand what I might like or not. I was also intimidated because it seemed like a mysterious ritual was involved in the preparation. Your guide really makes it seem less complicated. I’m glad you took the time to put your thoughts out here. :D

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