Beginner to Pu-erh tea

So I’ve tried a couple ripe pu-erhs, I didn’t necessarily enjoy them, I’m so into green teas I feel like I was turned off by pu-erhs right from the beginning. Anywho, without spending an arm and a leg is there any place that does sample packs of different pu-erhs to get me started? Maybe I’d like the raw ones better?

76 Replies

I was just thinking of posting such a thread this morning! I’ve only ever had Davidstea’s Chocolate Orange so I’m a total newb with nary a clue.

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Dexter said

I’m not an expert, but Teavivre does sample packs of pu’er.
http://www.teavivre.com/featured-puerh-cake-assortment/
or they also do mini toucha two of which are flavored/scented
http://www.teavivre.com/pu-erh-mini-tuocha-assortment/

These might be someplace to start without spending a lot of money. I think there are other sources that you can buy samples of pu’erh cakes – but I don’t want to comment for sure, without doing more research.

Dexter said

Mandala does 1oz samples of most of their pu’erh cakes. Mandala pu’erh is excellent. Noble Mark is my favorite shu, Wild Monk is my favorite sheng. http://shopmandalatea.com/

That cake assortment from Teavivre would be good! 2 ripe and 2 raw. Perfect for a newb :D

And yeah I suspect you might end up preferring raw/sheng since you love green teas so much Lucitea :)

sansnipple said

I’d strongly avoid Teavivre’s puerh sample sets (and probably most of their puerh in general). One of their sample sets was the first puer I tried and It was terrible, very nearly put me off pu forever, It was totally ruined, every single sample was foul and nastily fishy (even the sheng!) and several were mildewed as well. Presumably they were all just ruined by poor/improper storage, either some sort of water damage or just being sealed up in airtight sample bags for far far too long. Some of them managed to air out after a month of so, but the underlying tea was not very good either (and some didn’t and had to be just thrown away), also their sample sizes were really small.

I’d lean towards going with mandala to start wih, 1oz samples are great, And compared to most good puerh vendors their selection isn’t as overwhelming and their shipping is cheap. Or doing a sample swap with someone for some known good sheng to try might be a great way to go.

Thank you for all the help! I’ve never tried mandala before, I have been meaning to so this might be the perfect time!

boychik said

I wasnt impressed with Teavivre’s puerh samples or mini tuo’s. It had some off flavors. But maybe its just me;)

Jiāng Luo said

Mandala samples are WAY over priced

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What’s the taste difference between ripe and raw?

I would compare ripe/shu to a black tea, and sheng/raw to a green or oolong, depending.

Thank you Stephanie, that helps

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MzPriss said

mrmopar is the pu-oracle – he’s awesome and so willing to share what he knows. You should check out his pu of the day thread – lots of really nice, knowledgeable pu people – you’ll learn a lot

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mrmopar said

Which producers of puerh have you tried? Shou puerh unless made by the bigger factories or conscientious producers can vary a lot. Shou is a “fermented” tea product and sheng is an unfermented or more pure type of puerh. Bigger factories such as Menghai and Haiwan make very good shou as well as smaller suppliers as Mandala and Verdant. Sheng can be made by the smaller producers very well on the same lines. The big factories make good sheng but the smaller ones make some very good stuff as well. You can try menghai , Haiwan and Xiaguan as bigger producers of sheng but others like Mandala , Verdant and Yunnan sourcing make some very good sheng. If you think the “raw” sheng ones are more to your taste Mandala’s “Wild mountain green” is very nice a is Yunnan sourcings “Wu Liang Ye Sheng” are excellent. if you want something older a Menghai “7542” or “8592” with 7 or 8 years age to them can be good as well. I will follow you so you can message me about puerh if you wish to.
MzPriss calls me an oracle but it is a constant learning process. I read a lot and taste a bit on the journey. Sammerz314 is also a good one to follow as well as Roughage and lots of others on the thread. If you go to buy from Ebay or Aliexpress let me know what you are looking for as I know good sellers with good track records and quality product. I try to keep check on the ‘pulse’ of the puerh world on about 3 forums. DigniTea and Boychick are good ones that post notes as well. Check our discussion page as lots of people post good information there.

MzPriss said

Actually, I think the proper term might be pu-ru

mrmopar said

Thanks I am flattered.

Great explanation, thank you.

I’ve personally never tried pu-erh before aside from Davidstea chocolate orange. I’m wondering if maybe I should start with something else flavored, as I am not sure these would appeal to me right now otherwise. I was reading the descriptions and reviews of the two Mandala ones Dexter referred to – Mushrooms and wet earth don’t sound delicious to me on their own. Though these two seem like a decent place to start.

I understand that fermented shou would be ripe and Sheng is raw, so I presume the shou would then have an earthier, more extreme flavor? Fishy? Or is it the other way around?

Maybe I’m just not ready for pu erh yet…it would be a shame to waste the fine nuances on someone who can’t appreciate it.

If I order, I would likely go the mandala route, unless I do flavored.

Is Special Dark a pu erh? I see lots of people rave about that one also

sansnipple said

good shu should not be fishy, it’s more like smooth and thick and sweet and earthy (and sometimes molasses or chocolate or fruit, etc)

sheng is a lot harder to describe and has much more variety of flavor, you should just try some, without a frame of reference it’s like trying to describe a painting to a blind person. Sheng/raw is the more extreme/challenging one in general i think, where good shu is just a smooth and mellow easy drinking daily tea (for me at least).

MzPriss said

@whatshesaid – Special Dark is indeed a puerh. It is a most accessible, delicious puerh. I drink it almost every morning (exception today for some Full Steam). It is SCRUMPTIOUS. I feel a little like a drug pusher here (“first one’s free….”) but I would be happy to send you a sample of it to start you down your road to addiction if you’d like.

mrmopar said

Agreed good shou is never “fishy”. This is often the case when producers “rush” the product to market. Producers of good shou will hold it sometimes up to a year to avoid this type of odor or off taste. +1 for Special Dark or Phatty cake.

Ubacat said

I wanted to try that Wild Mountain Green from Mandala but I don’t think they ship to Canada. I too would like to try out some Ebay sellers.

MzPriss I would love to take you up on that offer! I have seen reviews of Special Dark pop up in my feed over the last little while and have been intrigued, everyone describes it like it’s delicious!

MzPriss said

@whatshesaid follow me and send me an address and I’ll send you some

I think you have to be following me as well in order for me to message you :)

Ubacat said

mrmopar, could you post the ebay sellers you use here? I’d like to try ordering some pu-erh from an ebay seller.

MzPriss said

@whatshesaid you have some Special Dark on the way along with some Imperial Dark and just for balance, a little White Night white tea – all from Mandala. My postal receipt doesn’t say when it is expected in Canada.

I am incredibly excited for this :)
Thank you so much!!

MzPriss said

You’re welcome! Let me know what you think of the Special Dark

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Lariel select said
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sansnipple said

I’d only recommend that if you really know what you’re doing, even for an experienced puer drinker that’d probably be a gamble at best.

Lariel select said

I was thinking you could find the mini tuocha samples there, and possibly try some varieties.

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Ubacat said

This is an interesting topic. I’ve only touched a bit on some pu-erh teas but each one was ripe. I’m mostly a green, oolong, white tea drinker too but I loved the ripe pu-erh’s It’s described as being closer to black tea and I don’t enjoy a lot of black teas. Pu-erh just seems like a totally different thing from black tea even though it’s strong. I’d love to try the raw pu-erh though. Sounds like I would really like that one.

Dexter said

Ubacat – you said above that you didn’t think that Mandala ships to Canada. They will, their website just isn’t set up to calculate international shipping. If you email Garret with a list of what you want he will send you a Paypal invoice and ship your order off to you. I’ve done it several times.
garret at mandalatea.com He is also an amazing, friendly, informative vendor. If you have questions just shoot him an email and he will offer advice or suggestions.

Ubacat said

Thanks. I do see that on their website now to email them for international orders. After reading some of the review about the Wild Monk Raw pu-er, I just HAVE to have it.

MzPriss said

The Wild Monk is awesome

mrmopar said

Ubacat Garret will ship to Canada just contact him here or on the Mandala site. As to Ebay sellers do you have a certain type tea or tea cake you are looking for? If you message me on what you are looking for I can probably help you with sourcing and the best pricing. Berylleb King Tea is my go to seller on Ebay as well as Dragon Teahouse. Both are excellent and Berylleb’s shipping speed is almost second to none.

Ubacat said

Does Garret have an email? When I send to their email, all I got was a “Welcome to Mandala” and to please sign up with an account.

Dexter said

garret at mandalatea.com

Ubacat said

Thanks!

Ubacat said

My first Mandala order is on it’s way! Thanks everyone!

mrmopar said

You will not be disappointed.

MzPriss said

It really is good. I’m interested to hear what you think of it.

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Thank you for everyone’s help!

Ubacat said

Thanks for starting the thread. I’ve learned quite a bit and am placing an order for some raw pu-er. Thank-you mrmopar!

Would love to hear what you try out.

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boychik said

i really like Puerhshop.com. they have lots of samples and they are in US. Shipping is fast, top notch service. i do like offering from Mandala and Verdant. Yunnan Sourcing is very good and have US site( waiting fr China is not what you want to do, its been like 6 wks for me already, still nothing)
if you are in US i can send you some samples

Thanks for the link, Boychik! I think I could look at the site for hours…
Really dumb new pu erh question…. if you get the bricks that break into individual servings, do you just drop the little square into your gaiwan, rinse once, then do the short steeps? Or is there more to it?

boychik said

i assume you are talking abt Puerhshop “chocolate” bricks? Yes. very easy. if you can wait couple days i’ll mail them to you to try

Oh, wow. Are you sure?! That’s so kind! Really…wow.
Yeah, those were the ones I was looking at. I wasn’t going to place an order yet, since I’ve got to wait awhile before I can order anything (money is a bit tight right now…). I’m trying to learn as much as I can right now about pu erh so that when I can place an order, I know what I’m shopping for.

boychik said

i’m sure, its really nothing. give me some time, i’ll put everything together

Thanks so much, boychik. :)

mrmopar said

Breaking the squares up will help them steep better.

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Mandy said

Depending on how you feel about bagged tea, I know from personal experience that if you email Numi’s customer service they’re usually pretty generous about sending you free samples of teas you might be interested in. And they have some flavored pu-erh which might be good for @whatshesaid.
As for myself, I’m just discovering that there’s an entire world of tea outside of the bagged grocery store stuff. I’m also just learning that there’s other teas besides just green and black. In fact, not only have I never tried pu-erh, but I’ve also never tried oolong. I did try a chocolate Rooibos from Numi just recently, and a green tea with white tea added from celestial seasonings, but besides that it’s all been green or black. I love green though, not so much the not flavored blacks I’ve had. And I love anything chai or vanilla. But I used to get slightly overwhelmed trying to choose a new tea at the grocery store, so while the idea of branching out really excites me, it’s a little intimidating, and I have no idea where to start!

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