When in China, Where to Go for Primo Puerh?


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

When in China, Where to Go for Primo Puerh?

Postby Geospearit » Jan 18th, '09, 14:04

So I know I'm not the only one who has contemplated going to China and finding good tea. But where would one start when one got there? Go to Scott? lol.

I mean, is there a good city to look? Particularly respected teashops or markets? What about touring touring Yunnan itself to find good cakes direct from farmers? Maybe right around harvest season would be a good time... but what about aged? So many questions. I just wish there was some way to get this kind of practical knowledge before embarking on a trip to China.

Perhaps though, the search would be part of the journey... just going with the flow. But at least we should know what to look out for. I hope that people who have had the chance to visit China or know people who have first hand knowledge will share their travel wisdom and do's/don'ts in this thread.
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Postby Geospearit » Jan 18th, '09, 14:39

Agreed. Of course the best part would be experiencing the culture and production of it. But I'd also want to send some back. Also, there's always the possibility of finding yourself in China on business or too far from the actual farms, but would still want to take advantage of the situation and maybe find some good vintage. I'm sure a lot of finding it has to do with connections. But I wonder if there are any particular areas in the a city such as Beijing Or Hong Kong where one would start to look. Maybe my questions are in vain as the only way to really find out is person to person on location. But there HAS to be some well-know reputable distributors with authentic young and more importantly, old.
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Postby chrl42 » Jan 18th, '09, 14:55

I've heard many vintage Puerhs stay in south. Like Fang Cun market (Guangzhou), Kunming, Hong Kong (best tea house) and Taiwan. Many old things also came to Beijing Maliandao, but you will never find them..there are over 1000 stores opening daily.. :o
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Postby tenuki » Jan 18th, '09, 17:53

My father in law has done a decent job finding good puer, but his methods involve making instant friends with monks and artists and taking late night taxi trips across shanghai with total strangers. I think you need special skills for that approach. There are horror stories on the internet about tea scams for tourists in china so be careful, they are waiting for you to arrive with your money.
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Postby vibrantdragon » Jan 18th, '09, 21:40

The tea trees for Pu'er are all in Yunnan area. The tea is made in these regions also. You can find many of the tea producers in the Jinghong area. The coffee shops in Jinghong can help you set up tours out to some of Producing areas. Plus, Kunming is a great city and close to this area, a business center, but the producing areas are still a little bit south of there. I am a little bit biased I like the Jinghong area and have friends there so that is the area I always stay in and start from.
Last edited by vibrantdragon on Jan 18th, '09, 22:00, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby heatwaves » Jan 18th, '09, 21:41

I actually would recommend hooking up with Scott.

Even if you speak Chinese, negotiation is exceptionally draining in China. If you look American or Euro, it's even harder. My Chinese friend said that I'd never get the "locals" price, no matter how hard I tried.

When I went over this summer, I tried to procure deals on my own with limited success. The last week (spent in Kunming), I met up with Scott. He was happy to act as either a middle-man or give you better deals on the cakes that he sells.
Scott is very knowledgable about the puerh in his area and the pitfalls of dealing with local manufacturers and blenders.
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Postby nada » Jan 19th, '09, 11:05

If looking for older puerh, Kunming isn't the place to come. I'd recommend Taiwan or HK, though I've found HK to be generally a bit pricier.

Kunming has a lot of puerh but the vast vast majority is under 10 years old
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Postby JAS-eTea Guy » Jan 20th, '09, 11:42

I think Hobbes (Half Dipper teablog) has done some traveling in China. He might be a good contact for advise.
Since I don't speak Chinese, I would be looking to hook up with someone like Scott. It would be worth it to me to have a guide like him with such knowledge of teas and manufacturers.
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Re: When in China, Where to Go for Primo Puerh?

Postby bearsbearsbears » Jan 21st, '09, 13:43

Geospearit wrote:I mean, is there a good city to look? Particularly respected teashops or markets?


Beijing has Maliandao tea market. Shanghai has Tianshan and Jiuxing tea markets. Guangzhou has Fang Cun. They're all good places to buy pu'er if you can't make it to Yunnan to press your own.

Farmers on the tea mountains don't generally sell cakes. They sell loose leaf that you would have to get pressed yourself. Which is fun, but if you only go to Yunnan there's a lot of China you won't get to enjoy.
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Postby tenuki » Jan 21st, '09, 15:41

Thought this would bear repeating as a comic side note:

When my father-in-law asked the conceirge at the hotel he was staying in Shanghai where to buy puer he was told - "You would have to go to China for that."
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Postby Geospearit » Jan 21st, '09, 19:03

tenuki wrote:When my father-in-law asked the conceirge at the hotel he was staying in Shanghai where to buy puer he was told - "You would have to go to China for that."


I don't get it. Is it like how in America we have "America" and then we have "Real America?"
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Postby chrl42 » Jan 21st, '09, 19:28

Geospearit wrote:
tenuki wrote:When my father-in-law asked the conceirge at the hotel he was staying in Shanghai where to buy puer he was told - "You would have to go to China for that."


I don't get it. Is it like how in America we have "America" and then we have "Real America?"

I am sure it's a Shanghai arrogance, seperating them from the rest of China for being the most flourished economically.
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