How young is young?


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

How young is young?

Postby saxon75 » Apr 24th, '13, 20:40

I've been reading a bunch (here and elsewhere) about young sheng, one thing that I can't seem to get a handle on is what "young" actually means, neither in the taste context nor in the health context. When it comes to flavor, I've seen people talking about sheng not being mature for anywhere from 5 years to 20. And from the standpoint of avoiding young sheng for health reasons I've seen anything from 6 months to 5 years.

So, I put it to you folks: what does "young" mean?
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Re: How young is young?

Postby tenuki » Apr 24th, '13, 20:47

Isn't it half your age +7? :roll:
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Re: How young is young?

Postby lordsbm » Apr 24th, '13, 20:47

saxon75 wrote:I've been reading a bunch (here and elsewhere) about young sheng, one thing that I can't seem to get a handle on is what "young" actually means, neither in the taste context nor in the health context. When it comes to flavor, I've seen people talking about sheng not being mature for anywhere from 5 years to 20. And from the standpoint of avoiding young sheng for health reasons I've seen anything from 6 months to 5 years.

So, I put it to you folks: what does "young" mean?


The real answer from me will be in the taste :lol:

To my understanding, normally when people say new sheng is under a year, young sheng is 1-3yrs. 5yrs on is the preferred underwritten time frame where sheng becomes drinkable. 10yrs is where sheng starts to be known as aged.

Edit: Correct me if I'm wrong, but there isn't a real standard, expect for maybe the 5-8yrs mentioned in some TCM books. But then the books can disagree also, as different tea masters :lol:
Last edited by lordsbm on Apr 24th, '13, 20:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How young is young?

Postby shah82 » Apr 24th, '13, 20:49

New tea= first year--like green tea.

Young tea= from 2 years to about 7-8 years. First stage.

Teen tea= from about 7-16 years. Second stage, and generally the first ripe stage--taste sort of like what it originally did, but edge is off, more wood, earth, plums, vanilla, whathaveyou.

Old tea is roughly 25 years plus.
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Re: How young is young?

Postby shah82 » Apr 24th, '13, 20:51

I have rarely tasted much of a change in sheng going from four to five years. It's usually 6 to 7 years or 7 to 8 years.

Shu, on the other hand, is broadly ready at five years, if there was any transformation available left in the leaves.
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Re: How young is young?

Postby lordsbm » Apr 24th, '13, 20:54

shah82 wrote:I have rarely tasted much of a change in sheng going from four to five years. It's usually 6 to 7 years or 7 to 8 years.


It really depends on where the tea is being stored and how sensitive individual taste is. That's why my answer is the taste :lol:
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Re: How young is young?

Postby futurebird » Apr 24th, '13, 21:39

lordsbm wrote:
The real answer from me will be in the taste :lol:



This. If it's been 13 years, but the wet leaves are still green and the taste is young... it's still young. What can you do?
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Re: How young is young?

Postby futurebird » Apr 24th, '13, 21:41

shah82 wrote:I have rarely tasted much of a change in sheng going from four to five years. It's usually 6 to 7 years or 7 to 8 years.


I can taste if it's FRESH like if it's less than two years-- after that I think storage is a big factor, and the tea itself.


I rather like certain 2012 sheng-- am I odd? I crave it some days-- I just want all of that green action.
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Re: How young is young?

Postby lordsbm » Apr 24th, '13, 22:10

futurebird wrote:This. If it's been 13 years, but the wet leaves are still green and the taste is young... it's still young. What can you do?


Well your taste says it's a young sheng :wink: Most likely it's a fake labeled/wrapper/marketed/advertised sheng, worst scenario is not real pu erh :shock:

Best way let it aged like any other sheng, and pray it'll be better in 5yrs.
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Re: How young is young?

Postby saxon75 » Apr 24th, '13, 22:11

I'm comfortable with the idea of just drinking whatever I enjoy, so in that respect I suppose I don't care terribly whether a certain tea is supposed to be aged or not before drinking it, though I do think it's interesting to know what people think on the subject.

When it comes to young sheng, though, I keep reading that drinking it daily can bring negative health consequences, and since I am a creature of routine and habit, I'd like to know more about that before I get deeply into sheng. Some people seem not to be particularly concerned with this aspect of this type of tea, and, to be honest, I'm not sure how much I really buy into TCM, but I figure it doesn't hurt to ask.
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Re: How young is young?

Postby lordsbm » Apr 24th, '13, 22:22

futurebird wrote:I rather like certain 2012 sheng-- am I odd? I crave it some days-- I just want all of that green action.


It's your taste, as long you like means nothing is more true. Yesterday I just wrote a review on a 2012 old tree wuliang early spring sheng.

The bitterness and astringent is low, no weird taste or smell, in fact the flora aroma is so rich it covers the tea natural flavor. Very light, refreshing with nice sweetness, which a good representative of spring :D

My gastric has no problem with it, and it's very much drinkable now. The best part is it's only 50RMB :lol:
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Re: How young is young?

Postby lordsbm » Apr 24th, '13, 22:30

saxon75 wrote:When it comes to young sheng, though, I keep reading that drinking it daily can bring negative health consequences, and since I am a creature of routine and habit, I'd like to know more about that before I get deeply into sheng. Some people seem not to be particularly concerned with this aspect of this type of tea, and, to be honest, I'm not sure how much I really buy into TCM, but I figure it doesn't hurt to ask.


Yes, in term of TCM some sheng (especially young tree and plantation) does have negative effect on the body, mainly too cool and bad for the gastric. However do note this, 本草纲目was written before there is shu.

Also China is seasonal. If it's country like Singapore, where it's hot all year round, it might not be too cool. It also really depends on individual body. Based on TCM my body should be taking shu, but shu seems to have negative effect on me on daily basis. My body will reject by making me uncomfortable after drinking. I also tend to have mild sore throat more often. :roll:

Best consult a TCM on what's ok for your body, then see how your body attempt to it.
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Re: How young is young?

Postby gingkoseto » Apr 24th, '13, 23:12

In the book Puerh Drinking and Appreciation by Liu Qinjin (tea science professor from Southwest Agriculture University of China and author of a few important tea books and many tea science research articles), the author calls puerh of 15 years old "old tea". This guy lives in Chongqing and I assume he mainly drinks dry-stored tea from Yunnan and southwest region (but that's assumption and I don't know exactly). And again (redundancy, I know...), Yunnan is not a dry place.

Talking about the outlook of leaves, I've found that many of my favorite old teas (puerh and oolong all included) and roasted teas, no matter how old-looking or roasted-looking the dry leaves look, after infusions, the spent leaves look somewhat "young" and vibrant. They don't look soft, beaten or burnt. (The above-mentioned teas don't include some good shu that I also enjoy.)
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Re: How young is young?

Postby gingkoseto » Apr 24th, '13, 23:15

But if you mean "how young is too young", for me, I don't dare to drink too much of younger than 1 year sheng, and I drink very moderate amount of younger than 3 years sheng. But people with very different "body climate" than mine might enjoy, or need very young sheng.
I suspect many vegetarians won't enjoy a lot of very young sheng - that's a guess and I would like to hear people's comments on it.
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Re: How young is young?

Postby debunix » Apr 24th, '13, 23:50

We celebrate the youth of sencha, giving it the special name of shincha, and other green teas race to market as 'pre-this' and 'pre-that' plucked fresh teas. Puerh is closest by processing to a green tea, so why is there a fear of young sheng being 'unhealthy'? It can be very bitter if mishandled, but so can fine quality green teas that are sought after in their first flush of youth. Aging should mellow it, but that doesn't mean there is something 'wrong' with the young tea.

I am still only a few years into my puerh journey, but some of my favorite pus have been young shengs drunk in their first year or two after harvest. I think of them as young until 4-5 years, and since I bought my first puerhs in 2009, some of my 'baby' pus are now 'teenaged'.
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