New to Pu erh and trying to notice the subtle differences

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

New to Pu erh and trying to notice the subtle differences

Postby Earlcornbread » Jan 14th, '12, 15:21

I am new to Pu erh and enjoy it very much, but I am having difficulty noticing the differences between the different teas I am trying. I like shu at this point.
I definitely notice a difference between the teas I have ordered online vs the Pu erh tea I picked up at my local teahouses. The loose tea from the tea house was very smokey and very strong - not in a good way. I didn't use my new yixing pot because I didn't want to foul it up.

I know I enjoy some more than others. So, I am trying to understand why. I am an artist. In art school we learned ... If we like something or don't, in order to be critical, it is helpful to pinpoint why. It informs our understanding of our work/ourselves. I am now trying to do that with this tea.

I have really enjoyed trying the Pu erhs I have received from the Puerh Shop or EBay... RJ_teahouse99 or Jerry_ma1982 in Gaung Dong. In this list, I find the teas to be so similar. I think I liked the Arbor the best. Maybe. I am trying to understand why. I have a few others to try in my tea cabinet, but the ones below, I have tried. If anyone has any input about any of these teas - it would be helpful to me as I begin to understand them. THANK you in advance. -- Sam

I have tried:
2010 Zhimingdu Aromatic cooked
2006 Menghai v8 touché, Monghai touché
2009 v93 Dayi Menghai
2003 Yunnan Pu erh not sure of factory
2010 Douji "Phoenix Tour" ripe cake 357g
2004 Nan Qiao Menhai Qiling Tuyu cooked
2007 Lao Man Eu Ancient Arbor cooked

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Re: New to Pu erh and trying to notice the subtle differences

Postby Earlcornbread » Jan 14th, '12, 15:29

I should say ... I learn the most as I infuse a particular tea again and again. Many times I like it after a few infusions better, or it is easier to discern the qualities of that tea.

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Re: New to Pu erh and trying to notice the subtle differences

Postby JakubT » Jan 14th, '12, 16:40

Hello Earlcornbread,
I'll speak about green puerh as I don't understand shu puerh too well.

I think that everything will come with time. After you drink a thousand different cakes, you'll have a fairly good idea of what does each region taste like.

I found it helpful to buy 20 samples of one area at time and drink them. Then move to another area, then to another, etc. This way you may found aspects of taste particular to certain locations or factories. It is also good to try differently aged tea. It is not necessarily a good idea to drink all puerh young - it needs to settle and develop certain characteristic features which come with time.

Of course, one must not be too gullible - a lot of outright fakes is being sold, or some "blends" which are not marked as such (I've had some Yi Wu cakes which had 10% of Yi Wu leaves at most). Thus, drinking one sample of an area is definitely not enough. Buying from good vendors is also a good idea.

I'm not sure about buying from E-bay (unless you know the seller to be good). Look around people's blogs and see where they are happy to buy and you may try some of recommended cakes.

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Re: New to Pu erh and trying to notice the subtle differences

Postby Earlcornbread » Jan 14th, '12, 16:55

Thank you, JakubT.
I am thinking of actually trying out more green Pu erh. I may learn more about the quality of the leaf that way. You gave me some very suggestions. I got those eBay sellers from this chatroom, and so far, they seem good.
Why do you like the shengs, if don't mind my asking?

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Re: New to Pu erh and trying to notice the subtle differences

Postby JakubT » Jan 15th, '12, 02:44

Hello,
why do I like sheng? Because it's just so good :) There are many regions, each with its own character - plenty of space to choose what suits you. Also, the tea changes in time, which adds different dimension to taste. Actually, the aging thing is good from a storage point of view - if you don't finish green tea in a year, the rest won't be much good. With puerh, it's no problem, you're not pushed to drink it.

There is a problem with sheng, the problem is, that relatively a lot of it is no good. On the other hand, there is a lot of cakes with character, that are very interesting.

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Re: New to Pu erh and trying to notice the subtle differences

Postby grimbasement » Jan 23rd, '12, 17:51

Sheng and Shu are completely different animals. I like both depending on my mood. I really don't know that I buy in to the whole idea that shu was created to artificially age tea to make it similar to aged sheng. I know that's to common belief but the aged sheng I've had is nothing like any shu I've had. Like I said I enjoy both and have had sublime experiences with both.

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Re: New to Pu erh and trying to notice the subtle differences

Postby Earlcornbread » Jan 23rd, '12, 22:19

grimbasement wrote:Sheng and Shu are completely different animals. I like both depending on my mood. I really don't know that I buy in to the whole idea that shu was created to artificially age tea to make it similar to aged sheng. I know that's to common belief but the aged sheng I've had is nothing like any shu I've had. Like I said I enjoy both and have had sublime experiences with both.


Thank you, grimbasement, for your comment. Is Pu erh your favorite mind of tea, would you say?

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Re: New to Pu erh and trying to notice the subtle differences

Postby Acaelus » Jan 24th, '12, 01:51

I prefer my pu-erh cooked rather than uncooked - Mainly because I cannot stand the taste of uncooked. Even aged for about 5-10 years, the tobacco taste that keeps coming through is disgusting to my palette. But then again I haven't had well aged sheng, so I'm still open. But it's been ruined a bit for me.

I also don't really have a preference, it's more of the mood I'm in that day. If I feel like I want something euphoric or warming, I would go to a shu. If I wanted to relax after losing an aggravating game or want something to brew during mahjong, I look to Wudong's Phoenixes oolongs or Anxi TGY's. But I've only scratched about 15 teas, so I'm still looking into what I really love.

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