What did I just buy?


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

What did I just buy?

Postby Microshrimp » Dec 4th, '11, 23:40

Hello!

I'm very new to this website, but have enjoyed everything I've seen so far.

I've never experienced Pu-erh, but I saw a documentary about tea many years ago that had a segment about it, and since then I have wanted to try it. Just the other day my wife was shopping here in Kentucky, USA, and the store next to the store she was in was a tea shop. I wandered in to look around.

The store had decent variety of very predictable loose teas, but then off to the side I noticed that they had one variety of pressed Pu-erh. Thinking back to the documentary I saw, I decided that I had to buy this.

Unfortunately, the packaging looks pretty generic, and the wrapper is in Chinese and I cannot read it. There are very few words on it really, so I'm not sure if anyone can give me too much information about this, but perhaps someone can. All I know is that the guy at the store told me that it was aged "8 years."

With this being my first Pu-erh and the means in which I found it, I'm assuming that it's not a very good one, but maybe it will be. I don't mind starting out with a mediocre one if that means the next one I try will be better. Unfortunately I have a cold right now so I haven't tried to brew it-- I think my sense of taste won't be accurate. The dry tea does have a wonderful smell though, so hopefully that says something about how it will taste. In Kentucky we are known for our horse farms, and not so much recently, but also tobacco farms, both of which I can smell hints of in the dry tea, so it has a nice comforting aroma.

Here are some photos of what I have. If the label alone isn't helpful, does the color or detail of the tea itself say anything about it? I've read that there are two categories of Pu-erh, shou and sheng, but I don't know much about that yet.

Anything to keep in mind for brewing this particular pu-erh? I've read some information suggesting short brew times (30 seconds or less for first infusion) yet other sources are saying 2-5 minutes. I guess I'll try a very short time first and then increase it if I think the concentration isn't strong enough. One method I read about said to pour some hot water on the tea and then immediately drain it out before adding water again for the first infusion, saying it was necessary to do that as a way of washing the tea first. Is that a general rule that I should follow? I've never done that with my loose teas, but I can definitely start doing that if it's a good idea.

Thank you for taking time to help me. I look forward to learning more about Pu-erh and tea in general as well as sharing my experiences with everyone.

--Stephen

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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby MarshalN » Dec 4th, '11, 23:47

The colour of the photos, especially the last one, is a little off, so it's hard to tell how old the tea is. However, this looks to be a tuocha of at least a few years old. Is there any indentation on the side of the tea (not the hole at the bottom)?
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby Catfur » Dec 4th, '11, 23:48

It's a Xiaguan factory Xia Fa ripe tuo. Age is pretty indeterminate, but at least a few years old, since it has the CNNP wrapper and not a Xiaguan branded wrapper.

If you are going to brew it gong fu style (with at least 1g/25ml of water, or more) use shorter steeping times (I use a flash rinse, and then 10 seconds or so for a first infusion for most ripe pus). You can try longer steeps with a lower leaf/water ratio.
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby Microshrimp » Dec 4th, '11, 23:58

Wow, thank you for the quick replies!

MarshalN - I don't notice any additional indentations other than the large "nest" indentation.

Catfur - I just ordered a gaiwan and will brew it in that. Should arrive by mid week. I've been wanting one for a while and thought this would be a good time to start.

--Stephen
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby MarshalN » Dec 5th, '11, 00:58

Ok, then this is at least 5-6 years old. Xiaguan started imprinting their tuos around 2005, IIRC.

This is a sheng tuo, btw.
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby MarshalN » Dec 5th, '11, 02:57

By the way, how much was this tea? If it's under, say, $20, I'd suggest you buy up all of them as long as it doesn't taste funny (i.e. contaminated with weird stuff, perfumes, etc)
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby Drax » Dec 5th, '11, 09:08

I agree with MarshalN, it's likely a sheng tuo. The color of the wrapper is throwing off the color of the leaves, but the size and shape of the leaves indicate that it's a sheng.

In any case, Xiaguan tuos are notorious for being dense as a rock, and you'll need to be able to pry off a chunk to brew it -- I use something like a specialized ice pick (it's a little thinner, shorter); a knife can also work, but only to pry leaves off, not saw.

Because the leaves are probably really dense, it will take a little more effort to start the tea. I would do a 30 second rinse with boiling water, and then 10 second steeps and adjust from there (depending on how well it starts to loosen up) -- and I normally go ~1-1.5g per 1 oz of water.

XG is also pretty well known for a particular taste, which tends to have the tobacco quality that you noted in the aroma, so that's definitely a good sign. I agree again with MarshalN, if the tuos were cheap, get 'em all, they're a great buy!
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby G-off-re » Dec 5th, '11, 09:41

I disagree about it being sheng. It's looks like a few Xiaguan ripe toucha that i've come across in local stores. Box and wrapper are same as well as lighter leaf color and shape/size of leaf is also similar.
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby Dass » Dec 5th, '11, 10:30

This is a ripe Xiaguan Tuo Cha. Age is before 2005.
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby gasninja » Dec 5th, '11, 10:40

MarshalN wrote:Ok, then this is at least 5-6 years old. Xiaguan started imprinting their tuos around 2005, IIRC.
.


I am have in my hand a 90's xiaguan sheng tuocha with an imprint on it. It is a different imprint from the big G.
They have a picture of a another 90s toucha with an imprint here.
10485f.jpg
94 unwrapped xiaguan toucha pic from skip4tea
10485f.jpg (63.97 KiB) Viewed 917 times
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby gingkoseto » Dec 5th, '11, 12:01

If there is no discoloration, it looks like a shu tuo. From the package, it's a Xia Guan French Export (xiao fa) tuo (it seems "xiao fa" is the name you've got from the seller too) from recent years. Export products don't follow the general imprinting rules. My 2007 xiao fa tuo doesn't have imprint either.

See if you can find a production date at the bottom of the box. Xiao fa tuo of recent years is not a target of counterfeit, and it's of decent quality. If there is no production date, then it's probably from more than several years ago (the tuo looks healthy from the photo). But xiao fa tuo from years ago could be a target of counterfeit. So it depends on the taste.

This tea is probably one of the best shu to deal with at one's exploring stage. That's how French people fell in love with it. However, what they sell in German is also these "French Export" series :mrgreen:
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby gingkoseto » Dec 5th, '11, 12:06

Oh yeah the crane trademark is not there. Crane trademark started some years ago even for French Export tuo! Is it a 100g tuo (estimated from your hands :D ) ?
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby bsteele » Dec 5th, '11, 16:20

I bought me one of thems guys a couple years ago... it was about $3-5 at the asian supermarket. Super inexpensive.
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby slurp » Dec 5th, '11, 18:51

Dass wrote:This is a ripe Xiaguan Tuo Cha. Age is before 2005.


yes

MarshalN wrote:This is a sheng tuo, btw.


no
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Re: What did I just buy?

Postby G-off-re » Dec 5th, '11, 19:10

Anybody know when Xiaguan starting using the big G imprint? I got an unwrapped 80's ripe toucha from CAN vendor and right away i noticed the unmistakable large indent they're known for. I see now it's listed as being from Xiaguan but i've never heard of anything before 2000's having that imprint. It didn't taste old, just dirty and wet.

http://store.thechineseteashop.com/PuEr ... 80-375.htm
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