bhale wrote:Could our pu experts here chime in with some of their top picks for newbies? Preferably these are available in samples of 1oz or less.
I'm going to assume you want a US vendor for speedy delivery and frugal shipping. I'm organizing this by vendor then by type, all of which are 2oz or less and affordable. The young sheng I've listed below I've chosen because they're drinkable and enjoyable now, even though they're young
. Ask me for recommendations on ageable young sheng and you'd get a more expanded list.
Aged: 1996 Orange-in-Orange, 1998 Yesheng Qiaomu
Sheng: 2004 Yanqing Hao, 05/06 Mingyuan Hao, 05 Xizhihao Lao Banzhang, Nannuo Maocha
Sheng: 2003 Keyixing Yiwu
No vendors appear to sell samples of shou cakes. The better shou I've had are below. Many vendors sell these cakes, but most are available through foreign vendors (ebay vendors like Yunnan Sourcing, Dragon Tea House, Awazon, and others like Royal Pu'er/Teaspring, etc):
Menghai Golden Needle White Lotus (any year, 05 is best)
Menghai 7452 (any year)
Menghai 7562 zhuan (any year)
Menghai "Adorned in Red" (2007)
Menghai "Ba Ji Pu Bing" (??)
fengqing cooked tuo (2003?)
Gong ting ripe mini cake (2005, red phoenix label)
2006 xiaguan baoyan premium ripe
huang chan fang's roasted fu cube shou (sold by Dragon Tea House as 2003 Coin Top Grade)
shou stuffed into tangerine rind
bhale wrote:Also, it would be really great if you would share your brewing parameters on these.
There is no such thing as sharing brewing parameters unless you use a gaiwan. Pots of different thicknesses and pour times will produce very different brews even with the same leaf ratios and steep times.
In general, for gaiwans, I use 1 gram leaf to 15ml of water in a gaiwan, and pour fast. If the leaves are small or chopped, like gongting grade cooked pu'er or cheaper young sheng, I use 1g leaf to 20-25ml water. Cooked tea I rinse 30 seconds, raw tea i rinse 15-20 seconds. I steep ~20s the first infusion and flash the tea until it mellows, then up my steep times. I adjust based on the strength of each infusion, of course.
If I'm using an unglazed pot, I eyeball it based on the thickness of the walls, the pour time, and previous experience with brewing tea in the pot. You should brew tea the way your pot likes to brew the tea, rather than stick to set ratios, set steep times, and set water temperatures. Unglazed pots are instruments of Cha Dao
moreso than gaiwans, in my opinion, because they require more of your intuition and because they progress in their seasoning as you progress in your brewing skill.