What pu-erh are we drinking?


One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

What pu-erh are we drinking?

Postby Phyll » May 15th, '06, 18:06

Post your pu-erh tasting notes here...

I'll start with some recent tastings I have notes on:

2000 Hai Wan Factory Gu Hua Cha Beeng
$free (7gr sample from Jing Tea Shop)

Medium brown/red liquor. This is one of the more earthy and woody pu-erh. There is an aroma of wood, earth, camphor, and what I thought to be black forest mushrooms. In the mouth the coarse tannin is still present abundantly (of course, this being a relatively young pu-erh at this time), and the taste of the black mushrooms is quite persistent. A slight bitter note. I like it. It's a brooding and serious pu-erh. Medium length finish.

***+/5

2003 Chunming Tea Factory, Spring Sharp Raw Pu-Erh
$16 per 357gr cake

Light to medium amber-brown liquor. Smoky and woody, with a hint of citrus-y nose. Slightly astringent/tannic on the palate, typical of a too-young pu-erh. Full bodied. Very vibrant with a strong cha chi (concentration/power/taste). The life of the tea emerged starting from the 3rd infusion and last through the 6th infusion. Smoke and wood took the back seat, while fruit, floral, forest floor, and a citrus-like aromas said "Hello, we're here!" We (my wife and I) decided that the fruity nose and taste was that of apricot. Tannin was present in quite an abundance, and yet not too puckery. Very nice potential! Flavors started to dissipate a little by the 7th brew.

****/5
Last edited by Phyll on Jun 6th, '06, 14:03, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Phyll » May 17th, '06, 04:25

I just had the 2003 "xiang zhu" fragrant bamboo pu-erh that is described by the vendor as:

"Another incredibly unique Pu-erh process that is particular to the Dai and Jingpo people living in Dehong Prefecture of Yunnan. This Bamboo Pu-erh is special because a species of Bamboo called "xiang zhu" is harvested at a special time once a year when the aromatic bamboo is still relatively young and imbued with an incense like smell. Raw Pu-erh leaves have been forced down in the the open end of the aromatic bamboo section, then bamboo sections are barbecued in a wood fire. As the bamboo dries in the fire the special aroma intermingles with the Pu-erh inside. A tasty and intoxicatingly aromatic Pu-erh! Unforgettable!"

I honestly have to say that I didn't detect any special fragrance from the bamboo itself or from the compressed tea leaves. Also, when brewed, the tea does not give any "incense like smell" from the bamboo. In fact, imo, the tea is too young, astringent, coarse, and unpleasant to drink. I've drunk quite a number of pu-erh to know what a good young pu-erh tastes like...and this is not one of them.

To make things worse, it was very very difficult to break the bamboo in half just to get the tea leaves out. I had to use a hammer, a screwdriver, and a lot of willpower.

0 / 5 stars (yech!)
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Postby Phyll » Jun 6th, '06, 14:04

This has become a very popular thread, as it turns out. :roll:
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Postby MarshalN » Jun 6th, '06, 15:14

I haven't really paid much attention to the posting side of things :)

I'm drinking some sample I was sent, early 90s CNNP beeng
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Postby jogrebe » Jun 7th, '06, 06:48

Personally I don't feel as if I really had any puerh that is really worth writing up a review for everyone as a really good one to try.

Although if you guys really want it I could give a list of names I'd recommend to avoid not that I know better given that I started out drinking cheap puerh some of which I know is now wet storage. In short I'd say to cooked puerh drinkers to consider starting with larger tuo cha instead of mini blocks or loose puerh. Likewise avoid any type of gift boxed or "molded" puerh which is in fancy shapes as chances are its lower quality akin to most loose puerh if its not in the more traditional cake forms.
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Postby procarel » Aug 21st, '06, 12:09

I have two pu-erh tea that I thoroughly enjoy from Pu-erhtea.com. The one I just received is called Golden Melon A and is very mellow but from my limited experience I don't know how it would compare to other types. The other one is an Royal pu-erh tea cake by Awazon that is similar but not quite as smooth . I like them both but they are the only ones I have tried.
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Postby sippy cup » Aug 21st, '06, 18:51

jogrebe, i'd actually love to hear a list of what you'd say to avoid. i'm just now starting to look for quality pu erh, and i can't say i really feel like i know what i'm doing.

also, what is "wet storage"?
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Postby jogrebe » Aug 21st, '06, 19:22

sippy cup wrote:jogrebe, i'd actually love to hear a list of what you'd say to avoid. i'm just now starting to look for quality pu erh, and i can't say i really feel like i know what i'm doing.

also, what is "wet storage"?


Wet storage puerh has been processed/stored with too much moisture and ends up being on the musty side - some will claim that earthy is the proper term but in my opinion musty is a more honest name. Better quality cooked/post-fermented will be mellow and smooth without any musty tones to it at all.

As to black puerhs to avoid, I'd say for best luck to avoid any loose and mini single serving compressed blocks as in my experience they are among the lowest around. These include the puerh sold by Adagio, Indigo, and Stash. If you want quality puerh you need to go with the larger compressed cakes. If you want a nice cheap mid range post-fermented puerh I'd strongly recommend the Xiaguan Tuo Cha that Ten Tea sells for $2 each. If you want better puerh and are willing to pay more for it I'd recommend that you check out Tea Springs and Yunnan Sourcing on ebay, which offer a variety of larger puerh cakes.
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Postby bearsbearsbears » Aug 23rd, '06, 03:35

jogrebe wrote:Wet storage puerh has been processed/stored with too much moisture and ends up being on the musty side - some will claim that earthy is the proper term but in my opinion musty is a more honest name. Better quality cooked/post-fermented will be mellow and smooth without any musty tones to it at all.


To be more specific, "wet storage" pu'er is usually raw pu'er that's been "quick aged" by spraying the tea with water and storing in a hot, humid environment that promotes the mold cultures within the tea to "convert" the tea faster. :?

I have had the displeasure of tasting two wet storage pu'ers :x. The results can rarely be good, but often the tea tastes like insecticide (imagine tasting how RAID smells). Additionally, it can be a health risk to consume, as the hot humid environment promotes the growth of varieties mold and bacteria not natural to the tea OR natural to the tea but not usually found in sufficient quantities to pose a risk.

Truth is, the wet storage stuff is rare outside of China. No online vendor would knowingly sell the stuff, nor would any of the knowledgeable online vendors be duped by it. If you ever encounter it, it's likely to be a too good to be true price on a too-aged-to-be-outside-of-China cake. With the exception of Hou De (online), Tea Gallery (NYC), and Tea Garden (West Hollywood, CA), and perhaps GenerationTea (who appear to carry cakes from GrandTea at a high markup), no US-based vendors I know of sell authentic aged cakes, so if you find one in your Chinatown, be especially wary. For example, Wing Hop Fung in Chinatown Los Angeles has a zhongcha green-stamped cake supposedly from the 1950s selling for only $200/cake (such cakes would fetch thousands!). Thankfully, this cake smells more like a cooked cake than wet storage, so any gullible person wouldn't suffer digestively from their error.

In my cup:
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Postby jogrebe » Aug 23rd, '06, 04:04

bearsbearsbears wrote:
jogrebe wrote:Wet storage puerh has been processed/stored with too much moisture and ends up being on the musty side - some will claim that earthy is the proper term but in my opinion musty is a more honest name. Better quality cooked/post-fermented will be mellow and smooth without any musty tones to it at all.


To be more specific, "wet storage" pu'er is usually raw pu'er that's been "quick aged" by spraying the tea with water and storing in a hot, humid environment that promotes the mold cultures within the tea to "convert" the tea faster. :?


If that is not wet storage is there a term for the musty low quality cooked puerh, that I previously assumed was wet storage?
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Postby bearsbearsbears » Aug 23rd, '06, 15:14

jogrebe wrote:If that is not wet storage is there a term for the musty low quality cooked puerh, that I previously assumed was wet storage?


Perhaps just "poorly stored" or "poorly manufactured"...or just good old "disgusting"

The best sign of bad wet storage I've encountered is visible mold combined with consistently uniquely gross flavor...namely, flavors that are generally never usually found in cooked or raw pu'er. If you just get some mustiness on top of overall cooked-pu'er flavor, it's probably just poor storage rather than wet storage. If that mustiness is uniquely gross and little remains of the pu'er flavors, then it was probably wet storage. On top of that, lots of no-name factories in China and Vietnam are producing cheap cooked pu'er without much knowledge or meticulous care, so a lot of it tends to taste bad from the onset, no matter how it's been stored! These are usually mini-tuocha and cheap loose pu (like you told others to steer clear of, recently. :D )

I hope, for your health and safety, that what you tasted was just poorly stored or poorly manufactured. :shock:
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Maiden Pu-erh

Postby Space Samurai » Jan 28th, '07, 05:30

Not only a great pu-erh, but one of the more esoteric teas I have come across: Maiden Pu-erh. I recently did a tasting with it gong-fu style, wonderful results. Here's a description from the web site:

"A dark fermented Pu-erh made with tealeaves harvested from antique tea trees of Yunnan’s high mountain tea villages, which are home to some of the world’s oldest living tea trees and tea cultures. Maiden refers to a special grade of Pu-erh that is hand-harvested by the young women of Xishuangbanna’s Dai ethnic group. Made with tender two leave and a bud without course or mature leaves it was traditionally offered as a special portion of their dowry. It is one of the most prized grades of Pu-erh and rarely found in the US. Pu-erh Maiden exhibits a well-balanced and smooth flavor, rich body and sweet finish. Like all of our Pu-erh, it goes well with spicy or oily food."
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Postby maxman » Apr 18th, '07, 22:48

Everyone, please, keep your comments coming! I am new to pu erh, and I'm still looking for a decent, everyday pu erh.
The only two I've tried are the pu erh dante from Adiago, and the $2 cakes from Tentea. Although the Tentea stuff was OK, I enjoyed the Adiago tea much more.
I'm just starting on my last $2 cake, so I'm ready to order some more tea. I think I would like to try an uncooked cake, and/or something similar to the pu erh dante.
Any suggestions?
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Postby jogrebe » Apr 18th, '07, 23:38

Yes if you want to talk puerh with people who know their stuff http://community.livejournal.com/puerh_tea is a good place to go.
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Postby hop_goblin » Apr 19th, '07, 11:58

Currently, I am drinking MengHai 7562 and CNNP KunMing ripe Zhongcha daily. On the weekends when I have time to escape I drink some of my older teas such 90s and my new Shengs. My favorite at the moment is the 5 beeng set from MenHai just GREAT!
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