pu-erh: so many choices, how to choose?
newbie tea drinker reporting… i am planning to order some pu-erh from yunnansourcing.
there are so many options/ choices with different year, price, brand etc etc
how do you decide which one to order?
any advice is greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance.
Read reviews of tea you are planning on purchasing. Also see topic puerh of the day discussion. Many tasting notes. Which are you considering? Shou cha (ripe/cooked) or Sheng cha(raw/uncooked). Ripe is ready to drink now, raw especially if newer production will be strong, bitter, and maybe smokey tasting. For a new drinker you may want to stick to the bigger productions such as Menghai Dayi , Hai Wan, Boyou, or Xia Guan till you find your comfort area. Scot at yunnan sourcing has some great brands. I think some of his house label are good also. I would also check out Mandala tea (Garret is great) or Verdant tea (david has great tea also). If you look to buy from China itself I have some good sellers that I deal with regularly that I can direct you to. You may want to check my cupboard also for some ideas. Here is a link for the discussion.http://steepster.com/discuss/5496-pu-erh-of-the-day-sheng-or-shu. A link for my cupboard. http://steepster.com/mrmopar/cupboard.
-Don’t buy brand new puer, especially with sheng/raw (better the older it is), but even most shu/ripe puer do best with at least a couple years of age on them.
-Buy tons of samples first, Yunnan Sourcing’s sample sizes are really generous and he has them for a lot (but not all) of his puer, don’t take the risk on a whole cake or whatever till you know you like that one. Sample a bunch of different brands, regions, styles, and price ranges (though don’t go nuts on the crazy expensive stuff, there’re diminishing returns on the higher price tiers, and some prices are driven by market forces not quality).
-In general avoid those single-serving mini tuos, they may look super cute and convenient, but they have a low quality ceiling, and gram for gram they have a much worse quality-value ratio than cakes, they’re usually made with the worst leftover broken crumbs and floor sweepings. 100g mini cakes, giant 1kg+ bricks/logs/etc, other novelty pressings, and anything with fancy gift packaging are (usually) best avoided for the same reason too
-Relatedly, Puer tends to have a form factor hierarchy, with the best quality material generally going into cakes, followed roughly by bricks, tuos, and minis last. You can find some great examples in those other categories I’m sure, but usually cakes will give you the best quality/price ratio.
-If you’re already ordering from Yunnan Sourcing, give some of their loose green and black teas a try too, many of them are really awesome and dirt cheap.
Could you expand on this and list a few good cakes.
I know everyone’s tastes are different but what would you recommend as a few starting points to sample if I was looking to spend around $40?
god, there’s just too many to say, they have over 1000 different puers, I don’t think I’ve tried anywhere near enough of them to make exact recommendations without just wildly guessing.
I’m still new to pu’er, but I’ve got a pretty good collection going and impressed with most of what I tried.
I’d also recommend Mandala Tea http://shopmandalatea.com/
Wild Monk, Silver Buds and Phatty cake are fantastic! I reviewed them on my blog if you’d want more descriptions of them http://oolongowl.wordpress.com/category/tea-reviews/mandala-tea/
Yunnan Sourcing is fantastic with big selection and good prices, as mentioned above. Double check both sites for prices / shipping costs. Also check what is the promo code offer.
(sigh, my cake order needs to come in the mail, I cheaped out on shipping from the .com site, so its gonna take awhile!)
I’m in week 6 awaiting the slow boat. The US site is much faster, however. I keep resolving not to use the slow shipping as the anxiety during the wait is not worth the few bucks.
Sigh, me too, 3 weeks in, the jump to the next shipping tier is just so painful. I actually just broke down today and placed a small order on the US site too to tide me over. (Can’t wait to see the owls stuffing their faces with big delicious puer cakes though!)
pingpong, I would agree with all the posted info above. Try the samples from various sources (including Verdant tea and Yunnan Sourcing), and see if any of the recent posts on the pu-erh of the day thread speak to you. mrmopar recommended some ebay tea companies to me that I have been pleased with so I’d recommend his help for direct from China sales. I’m looking forward to hearing about your discoveries.
wow! so many replies.
really appreciate all replies, which are very informative and helpful
I am from Asia, so most likely i will offer from yunnan sourcing to save on shipping cost and time.
so much more to learn from you all!