Beginner to Pu-erh tea

76 Replies

What is the difference between pu erh and hei cha (dark tea)?

sansnipple said

Puerh is a type of hei cha (dark tea), but not the only type, there’s also Liu’An, Liubao, Fuzhuan, Kang, and many many others, None of which have had the huge explosion in popularity that puerh has, so are still mostly quite cheap and harder to find. Chawangshop has the best selection I’ve seen of them ( )

Thanks! That is a nice list of things I need to try.

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This has been a great thread. I have learned quite a bit reading through here. My interest in pu-erh was also recently peaked by a fellow tea friend and then by a recent TTB. Thank you for starting this Lucitea!

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221tea said

I recently ordered pu-erh from both Art of Tea and Golden Moon and both are so fishy I don’t even want to attempt brewing them. I read the earlier responses that said that good pu-erh shouldn’t be fishy, and it probably means it was rushed.

I am a pu-erh noob…do you guys think I should ask to return it?

I read a few articles that said you could try to wash it to remove/lessen the fishy odor…but I am not sure if I should try that or not.

boychik said

You should always rinse puerh first just few seconds, cover the leaves and discard the rinse.

sansnipple said

yeah, rinse it at least twice, Also, open the packages and let it air out for a couple weeks before trying it again.

Uniquity said

You find the dry leaf fishy? I’m not a pu-erh connoisseur at all but I have had some of the lower end stuff and found that usually the odd smells happened after steeping. I don’t know that you would have any success returning the tea – I’d suggest trying it gently to see if it is more palatable when steeped. I’ve been surprised before! I also find that aromas and flavours that I didn’t like initially became something I look for and enjoy after having tried some different ones.

ifjuly said

i found pu erh had a sort of fishy/funky smell the first couple times i tried it, both the dry leaf and for a bit after steeping, and it was from a source steepsters LOVE so i know quality was not the issue. agreed with boychik—esp. when you start out, ALWAYS rinse, no matter what. that helped a lot. and for shu/ripe, a general rule of thumb is to make sure your water is as hot as possible.

even then when i’d sniff the used leaves after making some tea they had an odor i wasn’t used to and wasn’t crazy about at first. some of it for me anyway was just getting used to what pu erh’s all about. just tonight i had some, smelled the spent leaves again, and realized they smell the same but now i appreciate it, don’t find it off-putting at all. so in short: rinse rinse rinse, always! and then just try it a cup here and there and see if you get acclimated. it may just prove to not be your thing, which is cool—or you may find you grow to like the earthy mildly funky aspects of it.

TwoDog2 said

I wrote an article about fishy puer here, hope it gives some insight:

Ubacat said

Thanks for the article. I found it very informative!

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221tea said

Thanks everyone! I haven’t been brave enough to give it a shot yet, but I will definitly try rinsing it before steeping it for drinking.

crosses my fingers

Dexter said

Good luck – if I can add my two cents. I would boil water, pour some on (just cover the leaves), pour it off after 5-10 seconds, repeat. Then I would add the water and let it steep. If you are unsure of pu’erh, I would steep short – even western brewing – short 20-30 seconds. I just think you should ease yourself in. I wouldn’t go for a full robust steep until you are more familiar with the flavors. Don’t scare yourself away. Pu’erh is a bit of an acquired taste, see what you think and then adjust steep times accordingly. That’s just my opinion – take it for what it’s worth. :))

mrmopar said

Air it out for a week or so. If you are drinking shou or ripe puerh the wet leaf will almost always have an odd mineral/rock aroma most of the time. The dry leaf will have the wet hay type aroma most of the time. Dex is right about a rinse. I usually rinse it once and let the leaves set for about 30 minuites to open up before the first brew.

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Amy Alice said

I have tasted the old aged Pu’er tea. It tastes really good and also smells nice .Drink raw tea friends all know that new Pu’er tea with green tea is almost, but heavier than other bitter green tea aroma better early spring Pu’er tea worst thing is too heavy , but the bitter taste aroma is the best

sansnipple said

It’d be more accurate to say you’re SELLING said tea. Sigh, spammers ruin everything good in this world.

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I’m also a beginner to pu-erh. I recently tried the Wild Tree Tuo Cha from, because the sample was only $2.50. I liked it, so next I’m going to order their full pu-erh sampler which has 4 samples for $16.50:
I’ve been very happy with this company, and I’m surprised I don’t see them mentioned on Steepster more often.

sansnipple said

wow, those are some ridiculously pricy mini tuos.

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Jiāng Luo said

best tutorial/information

Never pay more than $7/oz for pu erh sample or not until, you get a footing. I made the mistake with some rather large orders starting out and found out good pu erh is actually really cheap compared to other teas. It is just a matter of trying a few samples and finding a terroir you like. Yi wu has been the easiest on the palate for me so far.

Rishi has some good ripes that are a little pricey by pu standards but are consistent and great to get a grasp on the main profiles.

Yunnan sourcing is by far the best site for pu erh raw or ripe, more samples than you could try in a life time and the most competitive pricing outside of yunnan.

Find cakes you would theoretically could afford to buy if you liked and order samples from different mountains/forests. Keeping in mind each session will average 7g( 1/4 of an oz) at a time and cakes are usually 400-357g(56-50 sessions) to 200-100g(28-14 sessions).

My theory wether correct or not, Raw Pu erh starts out tasting like green tea(because it is) then after 3-5 years it starts to taste fruity like a white tea, 5-10 years it starts to mellow out like an oolong and finally 10-20+ years it reaches its full potential and tastes like a black tea.

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I am watching this topic, too. I have one Puer sample from J-tea. They are local here to me, so there are sometimes little bagged samples in the gourmet grocery stores, so I grabbed the only one I ever saw. I like it!
I am thinking of doing an order from Mandala teas at the end of next week on payday. I like oolongs a lot. Suggestions for me? I do like a strong flavor.

Sammerz314 said

I love J-Tea’s roasted and aged Oolong selection.

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I think I will drop in to the J-Tea shop next week, too.

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Amy Alice said

The Pu-erh tea which is compressed and hardened into a certain shape. Good for transport and storage.Mainly supplied to the ethnic minorities living in the border areas of the country.Mainly produced in Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. It tastes very good as well as very costly tea.
See more at:

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