'Oolong Puerh' processing


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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby gasninja » Feb 8th, '13, 13:55

The thing I can think would have the most dramatic effect and most room for error would be during the shaqing . Over done and it would seem like you would end up with green tea that would go stale in a couple years. Not enough and you will end up with a hong cha esque Puerh. I am wildly speculating here as all my knowledge is third and fourth hand but I think some changtai cakes suffer from this dilemma.
Last edited by gasninja on Feb 9th, '13, 09:41, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby MarshalN » Feb 8th, '13, 22:24

gasninja wrote:The thing I can think would have the most dramatic effectand most room for error would be during the shaqing . Over done and it would seem like you would end up with green tea that would go stale in a couple years. Not enough and you will end up with a hong cha eque Puerh. I am wildly speculating here as all my knowledge is third and fourth hand but I think some changtai cakes suffer from this dilemma.


I think generally you're right here. Might also want to consider that newer machinery, plus a lot of relatively inexperienced hands, means that the quality and consistency of processing these days can vary wildly
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby fdrx » Feb 10th, '13, 01:54

I tried a lot of Mengku's teas a while back, and was deeply unimpressed with most. There are exceptions though, as I believe their Mengku Hao and Wild Arbor King (haha) are processed in the traditional way that we would all feel safe storing for future consumption.


Same here. I’ve sampled a huge quantity of different mengkus/lincangs and sometimes you can sample 15 different cakes from the same shop and they all taste the exact same horrible and undrinkable green/floral taste… I even tried an $700 xigui that was a real shame, not even better than the $30 mengkus of this “boutique”… But of course it doesn't mean that mengkus/lincang are bad, we all know that perfectly!… Probably the finest "holy grail" young sheng I’ve found is a lincang and plenty of menkgus are great. But It looks that not everyone is able to make nice puer, and i'm much more convinced of this after reading this thread.


I’d like to make another observation: I've found that lots of young shengs have in common a taste of sunflower seeds / sunflower oil, at least during their year of production… lots of bulangs and simaos share this particularity, i think. Generally this unpleasant taste goes away after a few brews or develops into something better, but I remember a fall hekai that tasted sunflower oil from brew #1 to brew #10… really nasty… I don’t know if it is something normal during the year of production, or if it’s a puer processing problem, or even a pesticide problem… But well i never found this in a puer made by companies with lot of experience in puer processing like like dayi, xiaguan, tulin,...
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby TIM » Feb 10th, '13, 14:34

nada wrote:I guess I'm really wondering what's different from the point of view of processing. I'm sure 10 or 100 years ago leaves still had to be processed if it started raining. I'm pretty sure the farmers didn't just throw them out.
Maybe they just don't dry them in their smoky houses anymore, but I don't think that's the difference.

I'm searching for things that have changed, but I can't put my finger on very much. What is it exactly that is being done differently that makes the tea 'go stale in 8 plus years', give it 'high aroma, flat in the body' and make it unable to age?


First, have you experience any of the concern mentioned regarding 'Oolong Puerh.': "What is it exactly that is being done differently that makes the tea 'go stale in 8 plus years', give it 'high aroma, flat in the body' and make it unable to age"

If you are not aware or experiencing such issues, then it's hard to explan.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby TIM » Feb 13th, '13, 20:41

thanks wrote:I believe the issue with a lot of Shuangjiang Mengku's products over the years were that they were not sun drying the leaf put into cakes. Instead, they were baking them. I've seen this process mentioned here and there with small label productions which would explain people having a bad time aging Mengku and a lot of boutique label productions over the years. I tried a lot of Mengku's teas a while back, and was deeply unimpressed with most. There are exceptions though, as I believe their Mengku Hao and Wild Arbor King (haha) are processed in the traditional way that we would all feel safe storing for future consumption.

I took a break from young raw pu'er for a handful of years, only to come back recently and discover a whole new world of small production teas. I've encountered a couple of teas from Yunnan Sourcing that I think could be called "oolong pu'er", but still no one has put forth a proper way of identification. No one has also really pointed out specific examples either which makes the conversations vague. I would be very interested to hear some experiences with oolong pu'erh that we could come across. I feel that a lot of us buying younger pu'er are buying to age, and if it doesn't age well then I feel that's an important discussion we should be having as consumers.


Thank You Thanks. :D
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby TwoDog2 » Feb 14th, '13, 21:58

Great blog post Tim!

One thing other point about the Anxi Tieguanyin gold rush is pesticides. I don't dare touch TGY that people gift to me from an unknown source. A lot of the "nuclear green" TGY out there is not only processed in an unsafe way, it often has been grown unsafely.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby shah82 » Feb 14th, '13, 22:12

I have never had a green TKY. I have some nice roasted TKY from Taiwan, and I didn't like the '05 super-roast that Stephené had years ago.

Wonder what I'm missing out on...

....eh, back to my Pu Di Sampletea Yiwu...
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby TwoDog2 » Feb 14th, '13, 23:39

shah82 wrote:I have never had a green TKY. I have some nice roasted TKY from Taiwan, and I didn't like the '05 super-roast that Stephené had years ago.

Wonder what I'm missing out on...

....eh, back to my Pu Di Sampletea Yiwu...


It brews up a bright greenish color. Think cartoon Uranium rods. You aren't missing out.

In TIM's blog post, does anyone want to comment on whether it is a "zero sum game" (If one thing gains, another thing loses) between Qi, Aroma, and Body?
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby MarshalN » Feb 14th, '13, 23:51

TwoDog2 wrote:
shah82 wrote:I have never had a green TKY. I have some nice roasted TKY from Taiwan, and I didn't like the '05 super-roast that Stephené had years ago.

Wonder what I'm missing out on...

....eh, back to my Pu Di Sampletea Yiwu...


It brews up a bright greenish color. Think cartoon Uranium rods. You aren't missing out.

In TIM's blog post, does anyone want to comment on whether it is a "zero sum game" (If one thing gains, another thing loses) between Qi, Aroma, and Body?


That's the new style mainland TGY. Traditional stuff brews yellow/orange.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby fdrx » Feb 14th, '13, 23:57

Here are a few recommended shops for oolong puer lovers only :

http://huazai7200.taobao.com/
http://wdjhtea.taobao.com/ (the purple bings at least)
http://xfzs.taobao.com (i only tried 4)
http://yimopx.taobao.com/ (a bit better than the others)

maybe some people can add entries? :mrgreen:
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby TwoDog2 » Feb 15th, '13, 00:05

MarshalN wrote:
That's the new style mainland TGY. Traditional stuff brews yellow/orange.



I think those super green mainland TGY teas are what TIM was referring to, right? The harshness on the stomach part often rings true.

Where does the difference in processing occur with the traditional yellow/orange colored brews? Do you mean roasted oolongs or a different traditional type?
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby TIM » Feb 15th, '13, 00:07

TwoDog2 wrote:
MarshalN wrote:
That's the new style mainland TGY. Traditional stuff brews yellow/orange.



I think those super green mainland TGY teas are what TIM was referring to, right? The harshness on the stomach part often rings true.

Where does the difference in processing occur with the traditional yellow/orange colored brews? Do you mean roasted oolongs or a different traditional type?


Oxidation, it's the key. Imho
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby nada » Feb 15th, '13, 08:15

TIM wrote:First, have you experience any of the concern mentioned regarding 'Oolong Puerh.': "What is it exactly that is being done differently that makes the tea 'go stale in 8 plus years', give it 'high aroma, flat in the body' and make it unable to age"

If you are not aware or experiencing such issues, then it's hard to explan.


Sure, I have had teas that display these characteristics. I'm not entirely sure that they all go together necessarily, but it's interesting to consider this.

Linking the aroma and oxidation I can understand, but I'm not sure that the body of the tea is tied to this. From the teas that I've experienced, it seems the age and health of the trees has more of an influence on the body of the tea than the oxidation/aroma. I'm sure you've also had both lightly oxidised and heavily oxidised teas with thick body.

With the ageing, I can see some things that are coming together. Last Spring, we spent some time with someone in Yunnan who's been pressing puerh since the early 2000's, and been in the puerh tea business for twice that length of time. He's been experimenting with how cakes have been ageing that have had different processing techniques & noticed a big difference between those that had been dried in a heated room after pressing vs those that had been dried in the open air.

Prior to that, I hadn't considered this step very much. It seemed like the stage at which the least drastic step was taking place & the use of drying rooms is such a common practice. We tasted some of his past pressings and there did seem to be a strong correlation. The naturally dried cakes did seem to be ageing better.

In freshly pressed teas, the difference seems to be huge - the cakes dried in a heated room had strong aroma and tasted fresh soon after pressing, while naturally dried cakes seem to take months after pressing to recover from the process and have a much more subdued aroma.

From the purely business point of view, I can see why some would explicitly choose the heated room - it produces cakes which are ready to sell very soon after pressing and are exciting for newcomers to puerh - probably in much the same way as modern style TGY is exciting for newcomers to that tea. It's also standard practice in most factories - who need to press and package teas in a minimum amount of time. I think many have their tea processed in this way by default - i.e. this is what happens if they don't specify anything different.

From the point of view of someone wanting to produce cakes with lasting appeal and satisfaction, I think that natural drying of pressed cakes is an important stage in the processing - just as sun drying the leaves after shaqing & rolling is an essential stage.

This is just the drying. The rest of the processing needs to be correct also. I think Gasninja and MarshalN made good points about the shaqing and the abundance of relatively inexperienced hands doing the processing.

I'd be interested to consider this conversation further and consider other points. It's really quite interesting and one that is of importance to us all if we're going to select and age our teas well.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby futurebird » Feb 15th, '13, 14:09

Wow, nada thanks for this post. Are there any producers with lines created especially for aging? How can a bewildered Westerner identify them?
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby shah82 » Feb 15th, '13, 15:42

Well, no, puerh vendors generally assure you that everything ages wonderfully, even silver tips.

Broadly, if you want to get stuff that will usually age nicely, my opinion is that you need to draw a line from ancient gardens on Badashan, through Manlushan in Mengsong, though Longpa, and ending up at Guafenzhai, and buy high quality products from there south from reputable vendors. This is expensive, however, and there are still places in the south you wouldn't really want to get for aging. For instance, there are plenty of not very good Bulang villages out there that's mostly useful for drinking relative new. Any Hekai, you'd better try for top of the line, 'cause Hekai gets mellow and sweet, but it doesn't seem to age into anything interesting, so you really want to get as interesting a Hekai new as you can.

As for blends, most of them that are any good and can be relied to age well are really expensive, and even those will pale against high end single area tea. Frankly, I think blends are oversold, mostly because the old blends that really worth treasuring had some really good material that doesn't really go into blends anymore.

As far a price goes, I think you should try for around $60 a bing, and get yourself a tong. Of course, you'll need to sample with that purpose in mind. Try for something reasonably well known and liked so as to assure yourself of some kind of resale value should you not like the tea, or the idea of storage. For example, I suppose getting a tong of 2010 Manmai or 2011 Mansai from Essence of Tea (or comparable tea from YS) isn't a totally unreasonable bet. You can try for something cheaper, like the Boyou Manlushan from 20007 that you can get for about half the price. However, it's really risky to buy cheap puerh unless you know what you're doing, especially in asking yourself "why is this tea cheaper than it should be?" Anything trustworthyly good is going to be $60 or more, by and large.
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