Where should you NOT buy your Puerh from


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

Postby brandon » Jun 11th, '09, 21:23

Paging the Puerh Institute?

Relevant factoid - Nada just returned from spending months in Yunnan, shopping the tea market in Kunming and traveling to more than a few mountains to pick his own tea.

You can catch up on his trip here. http://afelicificlife.blogspot.com/

Spring buds on a tree in Menghai county.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/afelicific ... 6/sizes/o/
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Postby brandon » Jun 11th, '09, 21:30

http://www.puerhcha.com/Tea_Selection/2 ... eacake.htm

Here are some more photos of you of the loose buds and a compressed "white" cake.
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Postby Jim Liu » Jun 11th, '09, 22:06

I was offered the same last week at Kunming Kangle Tea Wholesale Market by a vendor. But I turned it down. We did argue about if this thing was a true tea because of its uniqueness. I was told it was harvested from an old tea tree and it got the same chemical composition as tea leaf. My reason not to buy was based upon its price and its taste.

I would take this as a personal preference. If you wanted to try something new, by all means. I don't think it's harmful or bad to drink it.
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Postby Seeker » Jun 11th, '09, 22:38

brandon wrote:Paging the Puerh Institute?


What do you mean? Is there something about the Institute I/we should know?
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Postby Seeker » Jun 11th, '09, 22:44

brandon wrote:Here are some more photos of you of the loose buds and a compressed "white" cake.


Hi Brandon,
I've been emailing with my tea source, and we've been discussing the morphology of the buds. Look more carefully - the buds shown in your linked pic are, I believe, indeed Camelia Sinensis buds - single leaf on each side; very, very different from the "Ya Bao" "tea", as my source has been mentioning to me. In my sources most recent post, the question was posed, "I wonder how they would compress those buds into a cake" - and the point is well made - these buds, after infusing, are very, very tough, you can here them banging on the inside of the pot if you move it side to side. Another good question my source asked (based on an explanatory email I'd received from TeaSpring, is about whether these are new wood buds - ie, not leaf buds, but buds for new branches. My search continues.

To all Tea Chatters - I am, as always, eager to hear your knowledge on this subject.
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Postby brandon » Jun 11th, '09, 22:53

Very little out there in the English language, but I have never seen any evidence to make this "Institute" any more authoritative than your Chinese tea friend, Nada, or even you or me. They produce mass market teas in competition with all the other factories. Perhaps their huge team of tea geniuses and good deeds are simply unknown to me because of my inability to read Chinese.

Sorry, calling them up about a tea you ordered online and didn't like just sounded kind of silly.
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Postby Seeker » Jun 11th, '09, 22:54

puerhshop wrote:I would take this as a personal preference. If you wanted to try something new, by all means. I don't think it's harmful or bad to drink it.


Hi Puershop,
I agree - preference is very important.
However, I don't agree that anything a vendor might sell is automatically safe to drink. When I (last summer) had two of my local sources (very knowledgeable tea merchants/researchers) look at and brew the "Ya Bao"-- they both expressed concern that these might be magnolia buds, and expressed further concern about how safe it would be to drink such an infusion. I don't have more info on safety and drinking the infusions of magnolia buds.
For me, this is about passion, and my interest in tea.
Also, heart disease runs in my family, and TeaSpring says this "tea" is reported to lower bp; so I am curious to verify such a claim.
Perhaps this is something that has been in the chinese apothocary for a long time, I don't know. But I'm trying to find out.
I'm having fun.
Cheers!
And I salute all of our passion for tea and tea concerns!!
Friends in tea,
Jim
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Postby brandon » Jun 11th, '09, 22:56

I've tasted more than one cake of compressed white buds, which looked very much like the cake I posted above. The wet leaves from this cake looked to me like your Ya Bao photo from TS, so I connected the two without much thought given.

I am curious to try these wooden leaves now, however, against the silver/white bud cakes I have had. Rattling against the side of the pot sounds most unfamiliar.
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Postby Jim Liu » Jun 12th, '09, 03:20

Hi, Seeker;

I don't think any vendor has the guts selling something unsafe to drink. Ya Bao is one kind of teas on sale for years. A tea vendor is your friend to get your favorate tea, his sin is to make too much profit. IMHO
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Postby yee » Jun 12th, '09, 04:15

Specialists dont take this Ya Bao stuff seriously though...
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Postby nada » Jun 12th, '09, 09:25

Hi Seeker,

I've never actually seen these on the trees and don't have photos, I've been in the mountains later in the season, but have drunk it a few times in Kunming. A couple of these times were in the shop of some fairly knowledgeable tea producers who weren't selling it themselves but just brewing it up casually as a sample. There was never any question that these weren't from tea trees. They're fairly common around the tea markets and all sold as the same thing. I'd be very surprised if they could be so common without there being at least some questioning there.

The very young buds that I've seen on trees were in a later stage of development from these, but did display the same leathery outer leaf covering as these ya bao.

Like Jim from Puerhshop, I wasn't interested in buying them due to both due to the high price and lack of interesting taste.

n.
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Postby Rainy-Day » Jun 12th, '09, 16:41

Seeker: I got the Ya Bao from teaspring about 2 months ago and brewed it a few times. I didn't like it much, I won't buy it again. However I bought a lot of other teas from teaspring over time and many of them are a great value for the price, and many others would be amazing at any price. Teaspring is the best tea shop I know since I mostly like chinese greens, whites, yellows and greenish oolongs. So, I'm not upset that ya bao wasn't to my liking. I think if they say it's c. sinensis, it most likely is since it makes no sense for a respected tea shop that obviously can source a lot of great teas to ruin their reputation in order to make a bit of additional profit.

More to the ya bao taste: it's a medicinal / pine / hint of vanilla / very light flavour. I agree that the leaves don't look much like any other tea and the taste profile is also unique. However there's a great deal of variety in tea tastes.. It seems like reviews at teaspring indicate that it can be a very pleasant tea if brewed just right. I've been thinking actually of emailing teaspring and asking for more precise directions since I only have a bit of it left, and it seems like their directions on the site are just generic puer directions they probably copy and paste for all puerhs.
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Postby Rainy-Day » Jun 12th, '09, 16:44

Seeker: by the way, I bought some other puerhs from them and at least one of them was rather bad - and expensive. IIRC it's called Menhgai '93 loose. But I have tried it only a few times so maybe I did not get it right yet. OTOH their silver tip puerh bing (sheng) was really great. The Beidou #1, although expensive, is really amazing and well worth the price. (it's a dark oolong).
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Postby Seeker » Jun 12th, '09, 22:08

Rainyday - yes, I tried the '93 too, still have some, and though I initially liked it, every time after, I found it lacking in depth, mouth-feel, and qi. Thanks for the response also re the silver tip bing; I guess I was just unlucky - puerh can be a gamble unless tasted 1st; also I realize the star ratings on TeaSpring are from the reviews, and reviews are subjective, who knows who's reviewing. Certainly good deals are to be found from TeaSpring.

Brandon, Nada, Puershop - here is a magnified photo I took (through the lense on my mag desklamp - don't have the camera capability - had to get creative) of two of the buds and one very different bud that happened to be in the bag.
Image
The two YaBao buds are very, very different from Camelia Sinensis buds - the third bud I found in the bag looks to me more like what CS might look like - but I don't know if this one is Camelia Sinensis.

Here's a second photo, sent to me by my tea source - a fresh young Camelia Sinensis bud not yet picked - note the VERY DIFFERENT morphology. Also, one of these dried and oxidized might look like that third bud in the above photo?
Image

My source told me that the "fishscale-like" leaf found on early/1st flush Camelia Sinensis buds is a single leaf with that morphology - conversely, the YaBao's fishscale-like morph. is due to several leaves overlapping back and forth.
Very interesting - Could YaBao be buds from another species of Camelia or sub-species of Camelia Sinensis? I wonder. I don't know enough about plants to know if the same plant produces more than one kind of bud (as radically different as these are based on the photos and what one sees when inspecting Camelia Sinensis leaves after infusion from puerh tea).

Here also are some recent email excerpts from my San Francisco Bay Area Tea source on this topic:

'In all my years and thousands of shrub to ancient tree, I have never see a sprout like this on Camellia Sinensis. The leaf buds do not grow out of 'Bao' which is a crusty shell, I have only seen them for magnolia flowers. Ya means young bud, they sprout as a closed leaf leaf covered with downy hair.' (this latter part is referring to Camelia Sinensis).
'The only thing that protects a dormant tea bud in the winter is a scaly leaf called Lun Pian or fish scale leaf, and it's just one leaf that wraps around the developing bud in the winter to keep it warm. It isn't multi-layered like the one you showed me.'
'I am usually open minded, and there is always a possiblity, but also knowing China as I do, it's highly suspicious that only a few places have it, and so cheap, knowing the prices of wild tea trees.'
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Postby nada » Jun 13th, '09, 05:57

Well, you've got me questioning now too...

Though they look very different from magnolia buds...

Image

(Hotlinked from http://www.pbase.com/richards1052/image/57937760)

I did find these pictures of Ya Bao...

Image

Image

(from http://detail.china.alibaba.com/buyer/o ... 55845.html)


But, I agree that just because many people sell it, doesn't mean that it's real. And still no pictures of them on trees - sorry.
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