Raw Pu-erh not for me?
I recently ordered the ‘Introduction to Pu-Erh Tea Sampler Set’ on Yunnan Sourcing (https://yunnansourcing.com/products/introduction-to-pu-erh-sampler-set). I have tasted Classic Recipe Raw Pu-erh (https://yunnansourcing.com/products/2015-menghai-tea-factory-7542-recipe-raw-pu-erh-tea-cake), Single Estate Raw Pu-Erh (https://yunnansourcing.com/collections/2014-yunnan-sourcing-pu-erh-teas/products/2014-yunnan-sourcing-wu-liang-mountain-wild-arbor-raw-pu-erh-tea-cake) and the Aged Raw Pu-Erh (https://yunnansourcing.com/products/2002-tai-lian-kunming-tea-market-opening-anniversary-raw-tea-cake). I used 95°C water with 5 grams/100 ml in a gaiwan and started with a 10 second steep and added a few seconds for every next steep.
I was quite disappointed to find that I didn’t like any of them. I find it difficult to describe the taste, but I thought they tasted too bitter and had a sort of synthetic/rubbery taste that I found quite unpleasant.
Now I am wondering if raw pu-erh just isn’t for me, or if I just haven’t found the ‘good stuff’ yet?
I really wanted to like raw pu-erh because so many people seem to be totally obsessed by it. Maybe aged raw will be more to my taste? Proper aged raw pu-erh seems impossible to find though (or prohibitively expensive). I did like the cooked pu-erh in the sampler set.
Have a look for young sheng specifically described as sweet, perhaps? (Eg, Yiwu. I thought W2T’s Diving Duck was very sweet). You could also try starting with a flash steep instead of 10s, and see if lower water temp or slightly less leaf for the ones you do have make a difference for you.
Or talk to Liquid Proust and get him to recommend you some samples.
You might just not like sheng and should concentrate on shou for the time being – don’t throw too much money at sheng if you aren’t liking it at all.
You might find you simply like ripe puerh better. We are in the minority but their are some of us who prefer our puerh fermented.
I had the same experience with my first raw puerh, and it WAS Yiwu (2010 Jinglong Melody of Yiwu Mountain). I was surprised at the bitterness (not super bitter, but just not like ripe puerh). All in all, I found it tasted a lot like regular green tea—green, young, bitter, maybe a little floral, but not what I expected raw puerh to be like.
I just tried steeping with flash steeps and 80°C water, and the tea was definitely smoother and more drinkable to me, but I still can’t say I particularly like the taste. I guess young sheng indeed just isn’t for me, and I’ll stick to shou and other teas for now (still a lot to explore!).
Thank you very much for your suggestions. I will try to find some sweeter pu-erh.
Does aged sheng pu-erh taste more like young sheng pu-erh with some age to it, or more like shou pu-erh with some ‘raw’ qualities?
Is it common for people to not like young sheng pu-erh at first, but maybe have their taste evolve over time to appreciate young sheng pu-erh more (a bit like with smokey whiskeys perhaps)?
Depending on storage, aged sheng pu can be a lot like shou pu. Shou was made to mimic old school aged sheng. Milder climates make for milder aging, so the difference between young and aged isn’t quite as drastic.
I suggest trying some ‘ready-to-drink’ young sheng. I’m a big fan of Crimson Lotus’ young sheng myself!
Interesting, to me young sheng tastes totally different from shou pu-erh. Quite amazing that tea can change so much through ageing!
How do you know if young sheng is ‘ready-to-drink’? Crimson Lotus does look interesting, could you recommend any of their pu-erhs?
Tough it’s more common to drink aged sheng, these days it’s also very common to drink young sheng right away. It’s just a different tea experience.
Given the samples you’ve tried, it seems like you’re not ready for raw pu erh yet. It’s a pretty diverse set of samples. Try steep the raws at 80C. I wonder if this works for you.
If you ever want to do a voice chat I can probably get through a lot of the conversation that can take place here. A lot of it will depend on what you are looking to get out of it (taste wise). What do you like to eat? What did you prefer drinking before trying to get into puerh?… and then it comes down to recommendations of what to try, but then there is also the brewing method. Bottom line, we can find something that’ll fit you… puerh is not for everyone, but there is always one puerh out there that people will like. I like this challenge :)
Honored to be the subject of your challenge :-)
I have started drinking quality loose leaf tea about half a year ago, and am slowly working my way through the different types of tea. Pu-erh was the last one on my list :-). Until now I loved almost all of them: white teas, Japanese greens, Chinese greens, Taiwanese oolongs, black teas… Perhaps the only ones I didn’t really like are the heavily roasted oolongs (not that I don’t like smokey flavors, I like smokey whiskeys for example, I just feel the roasting overpowers the other flavors too much). I also had some Fu Zhuan Hei Cha that I liked, so I was expecting to like pu-erh as well.
That basically sums up my experience with raw puerh as well. Bitter and earthy are its predominant taste qualities. Though I don’t reach for it often, I found ripe puerh a lot smoother than raw.
It can take some time to get the taste of it. LP will get you really close if not dead on. AllanK has some good shou in his store as well.
Two suggestions: 1) try shorter steeps. 2) pay attention to the source. Yiwu tends to be less bitter, while I find the factory teas to be more so. Some villages are famous for bitterness (and sought out for it by those who like bitter teas).
In my research I just came across this article: https://www.bitterleafteas.com/blog/choose-puer-tea. Seems like a good intro to the different region’s characteristics.
10s is too long for the ratio u have (volume/ grams ) . try half time. Also sheng is usually not for beginners, coz it’s bitter and sweetness comes after. Unless u have very expensive Gushu. Just simply said. It might take a lots of samples before u find your pu-erh tea. If u find one, buy as much u can afford ( or willing to spend for it ), coz might not be available later. Have fun!
A good reason to try young tea is simply to test it, no reason to drink young tea regularly. Aged or shou are just fine. Aged is expensive but many vendors sell by the gram, buy small amounts for awhile to build a palate.
I can’t even seem to find any aged sheng of 20+ years, expensive or not (I read 20 years is sort of the minimum to consider it an aged sheng).
Good to know, so wet storage pu-erh is considered less valuable/less expensive than dry storage pu-erh? What is the difference in taste?
curious if you’ve tried the suggestion of shorter steepings? personally, i like a young, bitter sheng but don’t be afraid to do a long rinse and steep 3-5 seconds. also, consider adding only a second or two to the steep. if you add too much time per steep a good sheng can really get ahead of you
I did try steeping with flash steeps and 80°C water, and the tea was definitely smoother and more drinkable to me, but I still can’t say I particularly like the taste. I guess young sheng indeed just isn’t for me, and I’ll stick to shou and other teas for now (still a lot to explore!).
Yeah. It might be a taste that grows on you, or you may just not like it. It’s a difficult taste to be sure. If you ever go back, my suggestion would be to flash steep with near-boiling water but use less leaf (as opposed to cooler water). Though I think the problem is all these adjustments are just fine tuning, which can’t change anything if you just don’t like the tea.
I find I more often like young sheng than aged sheng. But this may be a minority opinion. Aged sheng often develops unpleasant flavors. It does not all age well.
Sometimes you have to try more too. Even young sheng tends to be broad. I’d say give it another shot and then decide.