Help Getting into Pu-Erh

Hey everyone,

I’m looking into purchasing some pu-erh in an effort to begin my journey into this interesting tea. I thought I would reach out to everyone here on Steepster for some help and guidance. Any recommendations on what I should go for first? Any personal favorite varieties/companies?


30 Replies
Cofftea said

I can’t give you recommendations from experience but I can relay the recommendations that I’ve gotten (but have not tried yet) Rishi’s Vanilla Mint and Blood Orange.

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teaplz said

I found Golden Moon’s Pu-Erh to be really accessible. It’s the only one I’ve tried, so far… I really loved its earthiness and sweetness. Maiden’s Ecstasy from Samovar seems to be a good beginner pu-erh, from what I’ve read.

Samovar, Rishi, and Numi seem to be good starting places when it comes to pu-erh overall.

For a beginner, I’d definitely start with loose leaf pu-erh, instead of a brick. It’s less time-consuming, and certainly less daunting.

I’d definitely love to see what comes out of this thread, as I’m really curious about pu-erh as well.

TeaCast said

totally agree, I haven’t even moved up to cakes yet ;)

Jack said

The individually-wrapped mini cakes are also pretty accessible and were my first experience with pu-erh.

Cofftea said


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Thanks for the replies so far. I’m definitely keeping the Maidens Ecstasy in mind, I have come to love Samovar’s selection. If their pu-erh is as good as the other teas I have from them I would be very pleased.

Cofftea said

Bana Tea Co. sampler!

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takgoti said

So far as Samovar goes, Maiden’s Ecstasy is an excellent starter pu-erh, in my opinion. Palace has a bit more depth to it. More flavors. It’s a little stronger. I’m also a big fan of their Blood-Orange Pu-erh. Really flavored well. It actually tastes like blood orange and the warmth works really well with the pu-erh flavor.

I just got some of Rishi’s Pu-erh Vanilla Mint in, so I’ll be giving that a try soon.

Awesome. I’m pretty sure I’ll give Samovar’s pu-erh selection a shot, I just got some of their Ryokucha in the mail today. Looking forward to trying it soon.

Cofftea said

@takgoti, will you be trying their Vanilla Mint Pu Erh hot chocolate recipe?

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Norbu has a few that I have enjoyed…I know there is another one too that I have had loose leaf…trying to think of it…actually it was like a mini pod, but it wasn’t a brick, I guess…I’ll get back to you with that company name tho!

Kteas was the other one…

Teas, Etc has a similar one to Kteas…altho I haven’t tried…

Thanks! I’ll have to keep these in mind!

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Carolyn said

Hi Thomas,

I’m in the same puerh exploration mode you are. I started this thread: and have received some great advice from PeteG who seems to be our local puerh expert. You may find some help there as well.

I think the first thing to do is to define for yourself what sort of tastes you like in tea. From what I’ve noticed there are two main kinds of puerh “Raw” (also called “Sheng”) and “Cooked” (also called “Fermented”). So if you see the word “Sheng” in the title, you know it is raw.

In general the blends people have recommended to you use cooked puerhs. From my experimentation here are the differences between cooked and raw:

Cooked puerhs brew up very black or reddish black. They smell strongly of leather or like composting leaves. The flavor profiles within them are similarly dark and are described with words like “oak”, “moss”, “mushroom”, “leather”, and so forth.

Raw puerhs are much lighter than cooked. They brew up into a yellow or golden tea. They often smell like honey or fruit. Their flavor profiles are often described with words like “sweet”, “honey”, “apricot”, “musk”, and so forth.

Neither raw puerhs or cooked puerhs are described as bitter or astringent. These seem to be qualities that they lose as they age.

From what I’ve noticed from ordering puerh samples, you don’t need to worry about the loose vs cake issue. The sample you get will be cut from the brick in such a way that it is easy to use for your tea.

I’ve been ordering from and have been very pleased with them. Your best option is (of course) to find a local tea master and place yourself in his capable hands. I don’t have that option here in Memphis but if I did that is what I would do. PeteG has very nice things to say about Yunnan shop, which I will have to search for to find the address. I plan to order from there next.

So far, my favorite puerh has been Imperial Concubine Aroma. which is very similar to a puerh I had in Chicago and loved.


Thanks for all the info Carolyn. I believe I received a tiny brick sample of cooked pu-erh from a friend last year that was from Yunnan Sourcing, if that is the Yunnan you are referring to. Great sample from what I remember.

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PeteG said

Carolyn, you basically said it all thank you.

Thomas, please follow the following links and you will make up your own mind wrt puerh bing cakes. I personally enjoy both bingcha(loose) and bing (cake) forms of puerh…I don’t necessarily enjoy the masking of the subtle flavours of puerh with additional “natural” flavour additives…but there are some I like but I don’t want to sway you…

The two previous companies are owned by the same indivual – just two different sites…if you don’t like ebay then follow the site yunnansourcing…which incidentily, offers a 10% discount on teas. is great as well, very fast svc. I ordered on 26 Dec and recieved in less than 5 days. Imagine the tea travelled fm the US to Canada during busiest time of the year and I rec’d it promptly. I am very happy with their svc and quality of teas.

If I locate a tea I think I will like to consume now, future or for future investment I purchase two if I can afford to…I naturally wish to try the bing and then allow the other to age for a hot summer lazy day…Saying this, don’t be fooled by really “aged” puerh’s … some are authentic but with some speculation in the early 90’ to mid 90’s prices when up and this caused people to source out older thinking older is better…and this is not necessarily so. I understand that much aged puerh was destroyed during the cultural revolution. I also understand that much was hidden as well. All this to say be careful…There are other sites and Carolyn’s previous topic she described has some wonderful links to info sites for your consideration.

Puerh is a journey that will only bring you great satisfaction. It is becoming a true love affair and I am consumed as I consume the glorious liquours…enjoy your travels…

Thanks for your help Pete. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Yunnan Sourcing. I belong to another blog/forum called BadgerandBlade and tons of their members are diehard fans of that particular site. Glad to hear you enjoy it as well.

Stephanie said

@Thomas M. Frank: Thanks for the info about the BadgerandBlade forum! I checked it out they have good discussions on pu-erh there! This post on brewing was especially helpful: . I’m just begining my pu-erh journey too and this is a good site for research—I would never have thought to look there on my own. Thanks again!

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Cofftea said

I… {gulp}… just recieved…. Numi’s… chocolate pu erh… I’ll try it tomorrow and let you know what I think…

Cofftea said


ddaniaa said

I really do like this one as well. Sometimes I mix my toucha brew with one bag (about a teapots worth and infuse a small bag) just to add a little flavor.

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Cofftea said

So I supported Adagio’s roots campaign this month and along w/ a sample of my beloved cocomint green I decided to plunge back into pu erhs by purchasing samples of both of the ones they carry. SOMEONE PLEASE HELP!!! How do I prepare this so I actually like it? Rinse? No rinse? Leaf amount? Water amount? Water temp?

Carolyn said

You bought the Puerh Dante and Puerh Poe? Didn’t you say that you found Dante to be vile?

It looks like both of them are cooked puerhs. You should always rinse. For the standard 6 ounce tea cup that you seem to use for a lot of things, i would start with about a teaspoon of puerh or perhaps a bit less. Water should always be brought to a boil and then removed from the heat and poured over the leaves. I would start the steep at 20 seconds, taste it and see if it works for you. It will almost certainly taste dark and earthy. If you need it darker, you can steep it a bit more. If you don’t like your first steep, toss it out, pretend that you intended to do a second rinse all along and then pour more hot water over the wet leaves. Often puerhs that are yucky in the first or second steep have some sort of miracle occur in later steeps.

Pete will probably have better recommendations, but that is my contribution.

I can’t guarantee that you will like these puerhs. I am still on the fence about cooked puerh.

Cofftea said

Yep. That’s the one. But I’m giving it another shot because your steeping suggestions are very different than the 1tsp/6oz/boiling water/5min/no rinse parameters that I used last time. Should I use tsp of leaf per 8oz instead? I’m getting away from my 6oz cup w/ Japanese greens so I can do that w/ pu erh if that’s the best way to do it.:) So rinse of 15 seconds then the 1st steep of 20 sec? How much do I increase steeping time for additional infusions? If nothing else, I’ll give someone who gets the TTB the experience of 2 unflavored cooked pu erhs w/o financial commitment. Thanks for the advice Carolyn, you’re the best.

Carolyn said

What I was told to do with raw puerh was to use approximately the amount of leaf that would take up about the amount of room as an American quarter, which is what I used in my 12 ounce cup and it came out ok. I estimate that this is probably a scant tablespoon.

Reducing the size to your 6 oz cup and reducing it further by a little bit because cooked puerhs are so strong, I get about a teaspoon, or approximately the quantity of leaves that would take up the amount of room as an American nickle. It’s not very exact, I know. My recommendation is that you use less than half as much as you would use if you were making black tea.

The way I increase my steep times is avoid increasing it until the tea seems to be weakening and then increase it by about about 25 percent. So I’m likely to go something like this:

Steep 1: 20 seconds
Steep 2: 20 seconds
Steep 3: 20 seconds
Steep 4: 25 seconds
Steep 5: 30 seconds
Steep 6: 30 seconds
Steep 7: 40 seconds

Once again, I do not know if these puerhs will please you. I’ll send you one which I think will.

Cofftea said

Thanks Carolyn! Idk if they were either, but I figured I’d try again since this way is vastly different than the last time I had it. And I have so many points banked w/ Adagio, it didn’t cost me anything out of pocket. Just 70pts between the 2.

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Cofftea said

I know there’s cooked pu erh, and I know there’s raw pu erh… but I just acquired some amber pu erh… I’ve never even heard of it til now. Help!

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