Another cooked puerh – they’re definitely starting to grow on me, but I still have trouble distinguishing one from another. I’m starting to taste more interesting things – spice, molasses, minerals? – but not enough that I’d pick a puerh over a good black or oolong for sheer drinking pleasure. For education, well, that’s another matter ;)

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Jim Marks

Properly brewed pu-erh should have completely unique notes to either oolong or black teas.

And yes, pu-erh are all going to taste more or less the same with the distinction of raw vs. cooked, since all true pu-erh comes from the same region and is made the same way. Going up or down in quality (not necessarily age) will impact flavor, but not much else. Once you’ve identified a pu-erh you like at a price point you like, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to look elsewhere.

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Jim Marks

Properly brewed pu-erh should have completely unique notes to either oolong or black teas.

And yes, pu-erh are all going to taste more or less the same with the distinction of raw vs. cooked, since all true pu-erh comes from the same region and is made the same way. Going up or down in quality (not necessarily age) will impact flavor, but not much else. Once you’ve identified a pu-erh you like at a price point you like, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to look elsewhere.

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Some notes on ratings:

I’d have separate rating scales for tea types if that were possible (probably Black, Flavored Black, Darjeeling/Dark Oolong, White/Green/Light Oolong, and Herbal) because the flavors and quality markers are just too different. A flavored black rated 100 isn’t better than every oolong I’ve ever drunk, just delicious for a flavored black.

Ratings are a combination of my enjoyment and the perceived quality – I do often demote teas a few points for artificial flavorings, small quantity of steeps supported, or weakness of flavor (requiring extra leaf).

I pay less attention to the number than the order of my ratings; I don’t necessarily keep a stock of everything rated 80+, but if two breakfast blends are rated 82 and 84 I consistently enjoy the 84 more.

And in case it’s not obvious? I am not an expert. I don’t even know what I like until I taste it sometimes, but I’m ok with that :) I like learning to like new teas, as well as enjoying the comfort of familiar ones.

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