"Cost-effective" puers for beginners?


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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby Balthazar » Jun 11th, '14, 04:11

William wrote:Sorry, snoberism is not for me.


No offense, but I think your talk-down of (pretty much) everything that's factory made and (allegedly) not "grown in harmony with the nature" qualifies as snobbism, although of a different kind.

Of course no-one would disagree that something "grown in harmony with the nature" is better than something that is not, but this tendency to regard everything factory made as chemical, posinous and downright evil tea, as opposed to the suggested "pure" stuff that can only be found from the handful of friendly and small-scale vendors available to the western consumer is getting a little old. I appreciate teas from said vendors, and I'm generally very happy about the work they do and the teas they provide, but to use myself as an example I cannot, with my current financial situation afford their good teas as daily drinkers.

For me this is where factory teas such as Dayi and Xiaguan fills an important hole (well, at least the recepies I've come to like, of course there is a lot of junk out there, and some initial sampling will be necessary). They provide me with decent teas that I can afford to drink every day (which is a necessity after I dropped coffee altogether a few months ago), and have given me many enjoyable sessions. As for Xiaguan (which has been discussed here specificially) I, for one, am a fan of the smokiness (perhaps not surprising as my taste in single malts also gravitate toward the smoky Islay whiskies), although not every day.

Of couse I'm not going to have my feelings hurt by people on the internet calling these teas crap (and generally assuming that even those who have drunk these teas over time, and claim to like them, must be confused or inexperienced), but I think it's pretty interesting that those doing so a moment later take on the humble, sagelike mask and lecture others on being elitist.

So when shah refers to himself as an "experienced drinker" I find that more honest than the much more common false humility sprinkled with rolls-eyes-smileys and passive aggressive remarks, but hey, to each his own.

In any case, as the topic deals with cost-effective puers, I don't see why factory stuff should be off bounds. Perhaps this is the only section where they are actually able to shine, since that's one of the benefits they get from being evil capitalists with large scale venture, with all this implies in terms of access and economies of scale
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby chrl42 » Jun 11th, '14, 05:13

I am definitely not an 'experienced' drinker as some who grew up white-haired drinking teas.


But it's like discussing Master teapots and cost-effective teapots. (ok, ok I am not experienced on teapots, either). If you go to Yixing shops, it's usually they first ask "什么价位" - what price range are you thinking? God knows Gu Jing-zhou and He Dao-hong are the best potters if you are rich.

I remember mr. Pei, who directs China Yixing Teapot Collecter Association...said "with little money, go buy Jing Dian Tao Fang". With 300rmb you can buy one, now that's equivalent to XG, right?


The difference of China is this, in China, McDonalds costs more than Kung Pao chicken. That's a power of the brands. For them, 'brand' means organized, trustworthy, and has a history. But, of course truly high-end stuffs don't have brand...they are privately dealt.

No one thinks XG is great, but calling it a crap is somewhat eh. :P
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby kyarazen » Jun 11th, '14, 06:09

just for interest sake, here's a simple translation of a collector's published notes on some factory teas :

1) mid 70s Zhong cha (simplified characters)
purchase date - late '78
storage wrapping - original paper/tong
factory - xia guan
leaf blend - sunned mao cha, mix of 3-6 grade, typically baoshan, lincang, xishuanbanna all combined

aging records
1984 - leaves unclear, surface slightly bright, brew is yellowish red, light green fragrance with bits of honey, leaf base yellow green, brew is thin and sharp, bitter astringent

1992 - leaves rather blurry, surface slightly bright, green fragrance with some honey notes, leaf base reddish yellow, brew is thick but sharp, bitter astringent

2000 - leaves rather blurry, surface is oily bright, soup is bright red, green fragrance with some honey notes, leave base red, brew is thick but sharp, sweet-bitter astringent

2003 leaves become clearer, surface oily bright, soup is deeper red, flowery fragrance with honey notes, leaf base red, soup is still thick and sharp, but much sweeter, less bitter astringent


2) Mid 80s Zhong cha brand (traditional character)
purchase date - late 80s
factory - xiaguan
tea grade - sunned maocha, grade 3-4 on surface, inside probably 5-8th grade. mixed from baoshan, lincang, menghai etc...

aging record :
1988 - lines unclear, surface dull, soup green yellow, green grass scent, leaf base green yellow, soup is sharp, terribly bitter and astrigent

1990 - lines unclear, surface dull, soup green yellow, green grass scent, leaf base green yellow, soup is sharp, terribly bitter and astrigent

1994 - leaves slightly clearer, surface slightly bright, soup yellow red, green grass fragrance, leaf base yellow green, soup thin and sharp, declining bitter and astrigency

1998 - leaves slightly clear, surface slightly bright, soup red yellow, green fragrance with some honey notes, leaf base yellow red, soup thin and sharp, sweet bitter-astringency

2003 - lines slightly clear, surface oily bright, soup color bright red, green fragrance flower honey notes, leaf base red yellow, soup thick and heavy, sweet bitter astringency


2014? no idea. havent contacted the writer to see how things have changed. but that is just a suggestion on what low cost teas can become. can they become fantastic fantastic? well.. taste is subjective.. but definitely they can become another "dimension" of enjoyment. a couple of decades of aging is definitely not sufficient for some of these teas. if one doesnt have the youth to wait it out, then it could be better to go for other types of pu-erh, other ways of manufacturing etc.
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby Tead Off » Jun 11th, '14, 07:10

Keep in mind, in those days, there weren't the choices we have today, especially if you are outside of China.
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby kyarazen » Jun 11th, '14, 09:31

Tead Off wrote:Keep in mind, in those days, there weren't the choices we have today, especially if you are outside of China.


quite a bunch was exported to thailand and south east asia.

after xiaguan privatized after early 2000s everything became a mess and quality became controversial, and potentially damaging the fine history that XG had.

to know what XG had to offer, is to seek out the early mushroom compressed teas, that was their main product, followed by tuochas. cha bings was more tertiary compared to these two. the heavy compression of the early mushrooms too had resulted in "legendary" status today.
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby Jspigs » Jun 13th, '14, 15:02

kyarazen wrote:
Tead Off wrote:Keep in mind, in those days, there weren't the choices we have today, especially if you are outside of China.


quite a bunch was exported to thailand and south east asia.

after xiaguan privatized after early 2000s everything became a mess and quality became controversial, and potentially damaging the fine history that XG had.

to know what XG had to offer, is to seek out the early mushroom compressed teas, that was their main product, followed by tuochas. cha bings was more tertiary compared to these two. the heavy compression of the early mushrooms too had resulted in "legendary" status today.


What year(s) of mushroom tous would you consider to be "early" mushroom tous?
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby kyarazen » Jun 14th, '14, 12:52

Jspigs wrote:What year(s) of mushroom tous would you consider to be "early" mushroom tous?


earliest mushrooms from xiaguan's around 1951 onwards, this was eventually overshadowed by the popularity of tuochas in early 60s which became mainstream.

in mid 80s (controversy on the date, some say in end 1980, contract signed in 1981, some say panchen came in 1985, some 86), the panchen lama visited xiaguan and requested the re-making of the heart/mushroom shaped compressed tea, and placed order for 500 tons. almost all of this went to tibet, with a tiny amount seeped out to the chinese market.

these teas are extremely heavily compressed, that in 10-15 years you may not see any receding of bitter/astringency.
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby Potapka » Jul 4th, '14, 08:01

Very surprised to see my topic for beginners turning into "everything under $150 is meh" :D

Some of my shengs arrived today, Tulin Phoenix 752 2007 and Xiguan Te Ji tuocha 2007, plus some free samples. Pretty long delivery, 40+ days.

Right now I'm drinking Tulin 752. I'm feeling a bit under the weather, and my nose is a bit sore, so I might miss some sublime charachteristics of this tea now. But still it is a very, very noticeable advancement, as compared to my previous experience with very young, very astrigent and bitter shengs.
The taste is full, bright, with no bitterness and low astrigency, and I can feel hints of dried plums and meadows.

Will try Xiguan later this week.
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby entropyembrace » Jul 4th, '14, 15:24

Sorry I'm a bit late finding this thread but if you want good quality pu-erh without spending a lot of money I think checking Yunnan Sourcing's own label tea is a good way to go. http://yunnansourcing.com/en/1711641109 ... rcing-teas

There's many cakes in the range of $20-$50 per 400g, there's lots of variety, the quality is good (definitely above what you normally get in this price range) and it's been tested to meet European standards for pesticide residue.
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby Exempt » Jul 4th, '14, 15:48

Potapka wrote:Very surprised to see my topic for beginners turning into "everything under $150 is meh" :D

That's probably because, compared to what people who have been drinking puerh for years are used to, this is mostly true. While you seem to have enjoyed the teas that you purchased, longtime puerh drinkers would most likely find them sub par for the price compared to what they are used to. I started drinking puerh when prices were on the rise about 3 years ago but even since then I've seen the drastic drop in quantity and rise in price. You should see if you can get some samples of puerh that used to be popular or is still considered very good and ask what the price was when it was purchased. I've had a few opportunities to do this and was absolutely stunned by the high quality to price ratio
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby AllanK » Jul 4th, '14, 22:17

entropyembrace wrote:Sorry I'm a bit late finding this thread but if you want good quality pu-erh without spending a lot of money I think checking Yunnan Sourcing's own label tea is a good way to go. http://yunnansourcing.com/en/1711641109 ... rcing-teas

There's many cakes in the range of $20-$50 per 400g, there's lots of variety, the quality is good (definitely above what you normally get in this price range) and it's been tested to meet European standards for pesticide residue.

I agree to the quality of Yunnan Sourcing Brand Puerh both Raw and Ripe.
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby Potapka » Jul 5th, '14, 03:13

entropyembrace wrote:Sorry I'm a bit late finding this thread but if you want good quality pu-erh without spending a lot of money I think checking Yunnan Sourcing's own label tea is a good way to go. http://yunnansourcing.com/en/1711641109-2013-yunnan-sourcing-teas

There's many cakes in the range of $20-$50 per 400g, there's lots of variety, the quality is good (definitely above what you normally get in this price range) and it's been tested to meet European standards for pesticide residue.


Thank you! Hints, that's what I'm talking about :)

Exempt wrote: some samples of puerh that used to be popular or is still considered very good and ask what the price was when it was purchased. I've had a few opportunities to do this and was absolutely stunned


Could you elaborate on what puerhs were that popular back then?
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby shah82 » Jul 5th, '14, 03:56

I think this: http://www.white2tea.com/tea-shop/2002- ... ite-whale/ is a very safe bet for someone like you. A reasonable sheng, with some age to it, and conforms to what I imagine eastern european tastes are like. Not to say I'm right or anything.

Try sample sizes of this stuff: http://www.jas-etea.com/brands/Xi%252dZ ... ly-Xizihao).html

That seems to be the last stuff from the good ole days without having to risk taobao...
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby Tobias » Jul 10th, '14, 01:41

Fruity and sweet is not my preferred taste profile for pu-erh but I tried some samples recently and I think these two teas fit that description:

http://yunnansourcing.com/en/2012-yunna ... grams.html

http://yunnansourcing.com/en/2013-yunna ... -cake.html
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Re: "Cost-effective" puers for beginners?

Postby Exempt » Jul 11th, '14, 19:06

William wrote:
Do you really believe that experienced people drink XG Pu Erh priced 20/30 USD? I do not think so. :roll:


I know many very experienced tea drinkers that thoroughly enjoy older cheap xiaguan and drink it on a regular basis
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