China Pu-Erh Tuo Cha, Size 1 (ZH30)

Tea type
Pu-erh Tea
Pu Erh Tea
Smoke, Wood, Decayed wood, Earth, Loam, Dirt, Wet Earth
Sold in
Loose Leaf
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by sherapop
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 4 g 9 oz / 274 ml

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19 Tasting Notes View all

  • “The liquor sure is dense and black, it looks like coffee. The smell and taste is very earthy. It is very mellow and soothing to sip. It leaves a very clean aftertaste. The directions said to steep...” Read full tasting note
  • “Okay, I tried pu-erh at the beginning of my tea drinking…but I didn’t know what to do with it so I just steeped it in boiling water for about 5 minutes. It was Read full tasting note
  • “i actually brought a pu-erh cake and my small glass gung fu to work today. it won’t be the classiest steep of all time, but i realized i was never gonna drink my unflavored or traditional...” Read full tasting note
  • “After over two weeks absense, I’m back for a review. My niece was here for two weeks visiting, so my tea time was limited, but it was nice spending time with her! I haven’t been...” Read full tasting note

From Upton Tea Imports

Small tuo chas (compressed cakes) of black pu-erh tea, with a weight of approximately 3 grams each – an ideal size for one or two cups.

The liquor is dense and black. Multiple infusions are often made from this tea.

About Upton Tea Imports View company

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19 Tasting Notes

429 tasting notes

The liquor sure is dense and black, it looks like coffee. The smell and taste is very earthy. It is very mellow and soothing to sip. It leaves a very clean aftertaste. The directions said to steep for 6-7 minutes but I never follow directions. I actually steeped for 30 seconds and discarded the liquid and then steeped for 4 minutes. I am really enjoying this tea, its making me want to try other pu-erh which is a good thing. I’m not sure how many times I can steep this but I’m going to find out. Excellent tea.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

Second steep is going great. There is plenty of earthy taste and aroma still left in this tea. Tea is still dense and black.


Third steep is just as earthy and tasty as the second. Time to stop now. three is enough.


Adding this to my list…


Dan, I have to thank you for saving me time and money — you’ve been trying so many kinds of tea that are on my to-sample list (Himalayan, Java, Pu-Erh, etc.)! You’re giving me a good sense of which ones might capture my fancy and which I can safely pass by.

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1015 tasting notes

Okay, I tried pu-erh at the beginning of my tea drinking…but I didn’t know what to do with it so I just steeped it in boiling water for about 5 minutes. It was HORRIBLE! Then I learned more about pu-erh which made me think “No wonder I hated it!” I have been getting up the nerve to try it again for about a year and a half. When I placed my order from Upton, I must have been feeling adventurous because I added a sample bag of this pu-erh.

This time I did a 30 second rinse which completely broke up the little bird’s nest. I then did a 30 second steep…..the taste isn’t all bad. It was a bit earthier than I expected so I added a pinch of sugar and a tiny splash of cream and wow! I’m surprised that it actually tastes pretty good. I think I’ll try to drink this for the rest of the day!

My rating will be based on the overall feelings of this tea so I will rate it later today. I will probably do a bunch of infusion notes today, so stay tuned!


I have a sample of this, too. My first pu-erh experience was a bust ike yours, but I am sure I oversteeped. I will have to try the rinse + mini-steep next time.

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767 tasting notes

i actually brought a pu-erh cake and my small glass gung fu to work today.

it won’t be the classiest steep of all time, but i realized i was never gonna drink my unflavored or traditional teas if i didn’t start putting a little extra effort forth and make some compromises. and i’m pretty excited about this.

i did one 30 second rinse. then one 30 secondish steep. i realized a little too late i should have done both shorter. but this is learning! and it’s still a good tea experience i get to have.

the cake loosened and dissolved into little tea flakes immediately. after the rinse, the fishy pu-erh scent was immediately present, but not strong!! it really wasn’t.
again, i’m not very pu-erh knowledgeable yet, but i can immediately tell that this is much better than the crappy davidstea pu-erhs i’ve tried. (don’t get me wrong, i like davidsteas a lot! and they have a ton of great teas but really they do not do pu-erhs well at all.)
i steeped the next cup at 20 seconds, and then the next one at 30 seconds, etc. and my pu-erh innocence tells me that this is a very very good tea. my other great experience with pu-erh is a blood orange pu-erh from Carytown Teas that i tried once and then couldn’t get it out of my head. (so of course i own 2oz of it now.)
this is a rambley review i realize.
i think i have gained perspective on how a good pu-erh should taste. i’m excited.

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110 tasting notes

After over two weeks absense, I’m back for a review. My niece was here for two weeks visiting, so my tea time was limited, but it was nice spending time with her! I haven’t been drinking really top shelf loose leaf tea lately, because the tap water sucks chunks this time of year & I can’t find my filters. So I’m entering my time machine, reviewing this tea ordered late October 2002!

I think my first Tuo Cha was ordered from Specialteas, but they were very similar. I love the bowl like shape of each Tuo Cha and did use multiple steeps (as many as seven). The first three steeps were always the best, and I always increased water temp, and steep time with each cup.

What I remember was a very dark, silky cup color, with an earthy aroma. I was surprised to notice a purple hue around the edges of the liqour. The wet leaf had more earthy aromas than in the cup. Every cup I tasted was silky smooth, with a natural sweetness, and definite earthy notes, reminding me of Autumn. Once I left a Teabowl in my cup for about eight minutes, and still got a decent second cup. At eight minutes the liqour was darker, with more sweetness and earthiness, and so silky smooth! This tea was NEVER bitter, yet full of flavor. I really like this tea, but have not reordered it. I’ll have to reorder it, so I can refine the review and reacquaint myself with an old friend.

Reviewed: Thu, 09-01-2011.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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511 tasting notes

I’ve had this little sample lying around for some time, briefly forgotten about. It came to me from Shmiracles

I did a bit of a longer rinse on it because I was expecting the leaves to need a few extra seconds to break up, but they didn’t. It broke up really quickly and the leaves are itty bitty.

The taste of this pu-erh is like sour dirt rather than the sweet earthiness that I am used to. I’ve head that mini cakes aren’t the best quality pu-erh, but the mini cakes I got from Butiki were a lot better than these IMO.

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14 tasting notes

Okay just to put this review into perspective – My first puerh was from the Verdant 5/$5 deal. I wanted to get an idea of what their quality was like before ordering anything. That puerh pleasantly surprised me.. After the initial hit of loamy earth, I really liked the mushroom flavor that dominated the cup and kinda found it addictive. I also cold brewed the leaves after the first infusion and enjoyed that too.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have tried this at work? This is my 3rd foray into the world of puerh. Yay puerh noobie me!!! I received my Upton box of samples last night and tossed this mini into my bag and have just brewed it in a little ceramic office cup/infuser set.

The mini tuo has a slight smokey savory scent to it. Ok, not bad, smells like the green Upton Saiqing mini-tuo last night. Looks nicely packed and smooth.
Tossed it into the infuser and poured hot water over it… uh oh! it started breaking up immediately into very fine fanning like pieces. o.O I’m supposed to rinse this, it’ll all float away!? Alrighty then just do it… and done, whew. Poured more hot water over it and watched the mini crumble like crazy.. omg.. I’m gonna be drinking bits of leaves! They are gonna escape the infuser and I’ll have to check my teeth constantly! The water is having a hard time getting past the leaves to drain… oy? Then panic sets in. This is taking too long.. it’s super dark already.. this is crazy! Go water goooooo!!!!!!! Finally, it’s drained and I can ignore the infuser to peer at the crazy dark cup. Alright, I know.. I know… I was warned about this, this is normal… REALLY. Dang thing is darker than coffee.. I’m so very afraid… do I really want to drink this? I mean, it. could. kill. me. Drink a coffee this dark and bitter is the name of the game. I’m so screwed… JUST DO IT!

Drama aside, I’m drinking it… 1st steep slight smokey flavor and tree bark wood. Not bitter at all! YAY!! For whatever reason, the smoke really reminds me of a snack type food we have here in Hawaii called smoked ika (squid), and I can’t get the association outta my head.. The sediment at the bottom of the cup wasn’t as bad as I feared. I’m grateful that the main flavor is woody with the smoke as an accent.. though the smokey flavor is what I’m carrying in my mouth after the cup is gone. 2nd steep more wood, still strongly flavored and scary dark.

Overall, while not unpleasant, this isn’t really floating my boat. I did feel a little light headed about 1/2 way into the first cup.. when I started typing this review… but I’m not sure if it’s this qi thing folks talk about or just relief that I actually got through steeping and tasting it.. hahaha!! I’m guessing it’s the latter. ;)

Flavors: Smoke, Wood

Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

Mini tuos, just leave them whole and rinse them one time for about 20 seconds. It will be even better if after the rinse just let it sit for half an hour. The water will keep going in after the rinse. I try yo wait on tasting any new puerh for at least a week before drinking. It acclimates and re-hydrates a bit and usually brews a bit better.
You will find the sweet spot.

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368 tasting notes

I use an extremely fine screen when dealing with any tea that is either (a) not whole leaf or (b) very broken or dusty.

And yet, this tea still manages to fill my cup with things which then stick in my teeth. I have no clue how they can be small enough to get through the screen and then big enough to be visible along my gums, but there it is.

Also, it clumps into itself very badly and clogs my yixing spout so that I end up with a lot of overly long steeps because it is taking longer to pour the water out of the pot than I actually want the length of the steep to be. This results in “burning out” the leaf in too few a number of overall steeps.

I bought this tea specifically for convenience over picking apart an actual brick of pu-erh and it has been the precise opposite.

I don’t recommend this tea unless you’re going to cold brew it and strain the result through cheese cloth.

Flavors: Decayed wood, Earth, Loam

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

The mention of the cheese cloth made me laugh :)

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2 tasting notes

I don’t know anything about pu-erh, but I like this one. The first few times I brewed according to the package: 5-7m, 212F. This made a dark, coffee-like cup that smelled like leaves and dirt in the fall, but in a good way. Even brewed this long, it wasn’t bitter or astringent.

Now I’m trying short steeps at lower temperature and it’s much better. Still the same basic earthy taste, much lighter though.

Flavors: Dirt, Wet Earth

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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1737 tasting notes

These cute but eminently stinky Tuo Cha from Upton Tea Imports were my very first purchase ever of this type of tea. That was more than a decade ago. Seriously. They sat in a drawer alone, neglected and scorned for all this time, never to be infused until today. They aren’t nearly as stinky as I recall, but I figured, how can pu-ehr go bad, really? Perhaps they have improved with age!

The strong scent of the initial sample (which contained 6 tuo cha, now 5) left such a lasting impression on me that I completely avoided this entire category of tea. Why would I want to drink such a thing? I asked myself most logically.

After seeing the throngs of pu-erh devotees out there in the world wide web, some of whom spend time here at Steepster, I realized, at last, that first impressions might deceive. Perhaps it’s really true:

Don’t judge a book by its cover or a tuo cha by its stench!

I tossed the first short infusion and proceeded to brew this tea using near-boiling water, which swiftly produced a dark brownish amber liquor with not a trace of its former stinkiness lingering in the air. To be honest, and a bit surprisingly (or not!) the flavor strikes me as a cross between a Yunnan black and a Lapsang Souchong tea. Does anyone else find similarities between pu-erh and Lapsang? Or is it just this particular batch?

Anyway, it’s good, and now I’m off to the races for many new adventures in the vast land of pu-erh! I needed to clear this hurdle before I could try any other pure pu-erhs. Mission accomplished, and happily, too!

Flavors: Smoke

Boiling 4 min, 15 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

Was it sheng ?


Sheng is ripe? Or is that raw? Do I even know the difference? I simply assumed that anything in cake form would be ripe! ;-)


Sorry I didn’t read a description. It’s shou/ ripe. Boiling for sure. Still I like gongfu super short steeps.

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58 tasting notes

Tried a 30 second steep after a 30 second rinse because of all the comments about it being strong. Seemed pretty mild to me. Wil try a longer steep for the next cup.

First cup I had put a little milk and honey into. For the second and third cups, I drank it plain after steeping for 45 seconds. The color is still dark, but I have to dash off to work. Taking the other cake with me to sip all day.

The flavor is very mild to me. Slight earthy tones that are pleasant. No bitterness or acidity, so no need for me to have doctored it in the first place.

Thank you to Shmiracles for the two cakes I get to sample!

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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