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Best "Starter" Pu Erh?

34 Replies

Whoever you go with for pu’er, I suggest drinking whatever it is with a smile on your face.

I know so many people who I’ve invited over to drink tea with, and then I’ll pull put some really exciting pu’er. But these poor guys have heard some horror story about fishy pu’er (never acceptable, by the way), and they assume everything is going to taste like that, even though this particular one is light years away from that danger. So they grin and bear it. Those who have an open mind, who let go of their negative expectations and just try and enjoy what this TEA tastes like.. this liquid in their cup right now.. these people always enjoy themselves.

They think to themselves, “There is some tea in my cup. What does it taste like?”
They do not think, “On no! On no! It’s pu’er? It’s it going to be bad? It’s going to be bad! Oh eew eew eww, I don’t know i I can do this. Well, hold my nose and think of something neutral to say.. … wait, what did that actually taste like? NOT fish and mud? Well, I don’t know what to think so… that was terrible and confusing!! Too scary”

Those who get stuck in what they want the tea to taste like (ie: a part of themselves WANTS the tea to taste bad.. they want to have a bad experience).. those guys have a yucky expression on their face, and never end up having a good time.

Just like any tea.. this tea was sold and picked out for you because someone believed in it. Someone thought…. out of all the tea in China, I want to share THIS one with all of my friends and love ones and customers. So given that, we at least have to give the tea the benefit of the doubt, right?

Just enjoy it for what it is. And if you truly don’t have a taste for what you’re drinking? No problem! There are as many pu’ers and flavors for pu’er as there are stars in the sky. The brick you didn’t enjoy as much yesterday, you may enjoy next year, or you may not. Maybe at this point in your life, you’ll enjoy shu’s, but later you’ll come to appreciate sheng. Maybe you’re a Banzhang person, but maybe you prefer something from Yiwu, or maybe you’ll love ’em all for their own special things.

Basically what I want to say is this:
Have an open mind. Prepare to enjoy yourself. Drink short steeps in a little bit of water first to get to know the tea before you make a big pot. Drink with friends.
Then, if you have a poor experience, you’ll know that particular pu’er doesn’t agree with you. Maybe it’s a forever thing- maybe it’s just for today; maybe it’s the pu’er- maybe it’s the day. Either way, there’s so much pu’er out there with so many different things to offer. Please don’t shut pu’er out forever because of a few tries.

Javan said

I very much enjoyed your statement.

Tea4Me said

Excellent point! Thank you.

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To echo something on the blog Will posted: I also recommend Menghai/Dayi brand

AND I started my pu-erh experience with Rishi, which was fine with me but a lot of other people seem to not like their pu-erhs

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Will said

I think the most important thing is to try some representative samples of various genres (including well aged sheng > 25 years old, if you can get your hands on some) and various types of storage. Of course, there’s a lot of variation, and some poorly stored (or just plain bad) teas out there, but at least you will start to get a sense of the very different types of flavors that pu’er encompasses.

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Azzrian said

Has anyone tried Art of Tea pu-erh? I am interested in their cake and the vintage dark.

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SunnyinNY said

I love the Ripened Aged Puerh Mini Tuocha from Teavivre. There is that fishy smell, but it doesn’t show up in the taste. I find it to be very Earthy & really delicious.

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I’m thinking that I’m going to order some from Verdant Tea and Teavivre at some point. For now, someone was nice enough to send me some flavored pu-erh to introduce me to it.

How nice! What did you get? One of my favorite ways to flavor (shu) pu’er is with cinnamon and mint- great for an upset tummy.

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It’s called Scottish caramel toffee. Sounds like a delicious introduction.

Azzrian said

That sounds AMAZING!

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DukeGus said

I would say that fishy taste/smell comes from fishy pu erh :p

My only suggestion is try to get the best quality you can find.
I started with the cheapest pu erh and I almost hated pu erh, but luckily a friend gave me some nice quality ones and I started to understand what this tea is meant to be like.

One of the most amazing sources for nice pu erh that my friend buys is http://www.zhizhengtea.com/ just get some samples and enjoy some amazing pu erh.

General rules, water almost boiling, use smaller amounts for starters and when you get more experienced with brewing pu erh you can put bigger quantities

Javan said

That certainly looks like an interesting site. I appreciate the link.

DukeGus said

From my friends that buys from that site I’m always amazed by the quality of the pu erh and the samples are soooo cheap. I though of buying too but I guess it’s too expensive for me…and I got my friend that shares his tea so :)

Thanks – nice link! I always appreciate those who will let you try samples before buying an entire cake.

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Completely agree with Spoonvostup.

Keep an open mind and you will truly enjoy Puerh for what it has to offer. Sheng pu’s are one of my favorite teas, next to Taiwanese Oolongs :)

I suggest to purchase a few sample from JK Tea shop or PuerhShop. They have quite the selection. Maybe buy some young and aged shengs and a few shu puerhs for start. See what you like and what you may not be a big fan of, and go from there.

I personally think that flavored Puerh hides the true taste and aroma that is longed for. I tend to stray away from flavors :)

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I started out with flavored greens, blacks and oolongs and grew to prefer them straight and appreciate their natural flavors, I feel like the same will happen with pu-erh. I will be open-minded.

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