Do I hate Pu-Erh ?
Maybe you just don’t like shen like me… Try drinking Shu (Bonnie made some good suggestions) and remember not to oversteep it. Oversteeped Shu can be horrible :)
P.S. My experience of buying from ebay was not very enjoyable… I was very happy to find this community because I no longer need to go to the auction and can just order from trusted vendors…
Will wrote about large and small leaf pu-erh, how do we know what kind it is that we buy ?
can we determine that based on the “code” ? in that case 7581 …
The trading code (for teas which have them) gives some clue as to the grade, though it’s not failsafe. The first two characters usually refer to the year the recipe was first made (not the year of production), the third character is often the grade of the leaves, with 1 being highest grade / smallest leaf, and 9 being lowest grade / biggest leaf. The last character indicates the factory (among the original state-owned factories). Sometimes these trading codes are used by other manufacturers, to indicate a cake which is based on a classic recipe like 7542 or 8582. However, there are some exceptions to the way the recipes are made, and most big factory productions have multiple grades of leaf, so the ‘4’ in 7542 means that this recipe probably has an average leaf grade of 4, but it’s not necessarily made of entirely grade 4 leaf.
For ripe pu’er, look for things like ‘gong ting’ and ‘white needle golden lotus’, which will be the smallest grade ripe pu’er.
Even though small leaves are considered “high” grade, higher grade doesn’t necessarily mean “better” – however, there are difference in taste between the two. A lot of people prefer 8582 to 7542, for example.
The simple answer, though, once you’ve bought the tea, is to look at the leaves. Good vendors will usually show pictures of the dry cake and wet leaves, which may also help.
ps – Will also put a plug in here for Jason’s excellent post, which I think is a good intro, and has some concrete suggestions for things to try.http://puerh.blogspot.com/p/new-to-puer.html
The other thing I’ll say on a more general note is that some people like pu’er when they first try it, and others don’t. But I’d hold that a more important thing is, even if you don’t like the taste at first, does the taste come back to you / haunt you? And how does it make your body feel. Unlike, say, oolongs, drinking pu’er isn’t just about taste and fragrance (and I don’t mean that in a really hippy-dippy way). Pay attention to the way the tea makes you feel while you’re drinking it and after.
I haven’t really tried many pu’erhs. I tried a few cups of DavidsTea’s Oh Christmas Treat/Chocolate Orange, and it tasted so earthy to me. Not in a good way, literally like dirt. I tried a few times, changing sweetner levels, water temperature, but with no luck. Then a couple of months ago I was exploring the tasting table at an Oriental Teahouse restaurant in Melbourne, and I tried their pu’erh, and it was really nice!
I think its a bit like red wine – have the wrong one and it tastes so bitter and icky, but find one you like and its soft and gentle and a lovely cup. But it can be a tricky hunt – good luck!
One of the people who follows me (if you want to look him up under my followers) is Roughage. Lives in the UK and loves Puerh. It’s helpful to have someone who is in Europe to ask about resources for Puerh (keeps shipping at a minimum or free). (He’s a Professor and travels a lot.)
Give Pu’er another chance!
Check our website or shoot me a message or email to chat Pu’er. We are based in Xishuangbanna China where Pu’er, and all tea, originates.
Its worth a few bad teas to get to a great one :)