'Oolong Puerh' processing


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

Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby shah82 » Feb 17th, '13, 17:03

Heh, talking smack, like a little friendly taunting on the basketball court!

I always take strong opinions and voice them. If you ever thought I was smart, it's because I'm brave or stupid enough to be publicly wrong. And then I learn from the discussion. I reread what I write on public boards from years ago just to see how my thinking has changed.

Of course I recommend the Tai Lian. I always do. Why? It's a 2002 tea that costs $76 at Yunnan Sourcing. It's a *good* 2002 tea that cost $76. It's a genuinely cheap tea per age and quality. People may not want lincang, and people may not want Kunming cryostorage. I certainly do not think it samples well, because it really needs some time in humidity and awakening time fro separated leaf to be at its best. I would not have thought it worth buying the cake had I only bought the sample back then. However, if I think of myself as a consumer advocate, I wouldn't think I was doing a good job if I wasn't pushing this tea. If you haven't noticed already, nobody in the bigger tea circles really pushes the best tea. Just tea that's acceptable and have plenty of stock in merchant warehouses.

Nobody is an expert. Not really, because this hobby is far too young as a broad phenomenon. Virtually everyone's experience in the West consists of furtive samplings of tiny quantities of the well stored aged tea, usually of well known tea like 7542 or 8582. So everyone is making best guesses, especially given how processing methods and blends have changed since the 80s and 90s. So you have to come up with a system that estimates how you should think of a tea.

So for me, I go with:

1) Does the aroma endure? You can't fake or process a quality aroma with depth/complexity/fullness, rise off the cup, and lasting more than a minute or so.

2) How comfortable is it to drink? Is there astringency or bitterness? Is that astringency/bitterness productive in generating lingering aftertaste and huigans? Silky, gloopy, whatever texture?

3) Is it like drinking water or some kind of soup? Body is a bit different than texture--you can have a thinner body, with a silk texture and that'd be pretty cool. Or a thick one that isn't right in some way.

4) How much power, activity, and presence does the soup have on top of, and inside the throat? Too many people think mere cooling is a sign of quality. It is, sorta, but what sets off the really good from the mundane is the nature of the cool. Good tea has a different kind of cooling that's more ben-gay than mint. The effect tends to go down the throat and up the nose. It can also travel around the mouth, as in "wind rain effect" as the Chinese call it.

5) How much qi does it have? Does said qi move along the meridians, so to speak, or does it just sit there? Is it comfortable or harsh?

6) Does the tea have several stages in flavor as you go through a pot of water? Are the finishing brews pleasantly sweet and comfy?

People have different standards. For instance, Nada focuses alot more on certain aspects than I do. As a result, I think his Mannuo '11 is better than his Nannuo '11. He thinks the other way around. This will happen a ton of times, and there's no need to be upset about it. You have to make choices about what you want. You'd read me or any of the bloggers strictly in the context of where your preferences and priorities tend to overlap with mine or anyone else. Some use of your empathy muscles are required here.

I will say that taste itself is highly deceptive. It depends on your water, whether you let the dry leave sit in the bowl a week or two, or any number of things. It can change with the years. The classic way people buy bad tea is by preferentially buying "approachable" flavor or aroma puerh. Which is why you see so much problematically tinkered puerh that gives a oolongly fruity or floral taste (or more red and mellow malt). For me, the easy way to tell, again, is to see whether that aroma *endures*. Many of these teas also will betray badness by becoming hard to drink or pointless to drink by about brew 6-8. *Few* puerh, however, are done straight processing green. A little butteriness is sought after. Or a little hongcha, or some nice smokiness. That's alright, so long as most of the underlying qualities are still there to age.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby shah82 » Feb 17th, '13, 17:36

As for Yiwu:

I've had Mahei and LSD before, several of both. Aside from the Song Charactered Changtai '99, which I think is from that area, I generally fail to be very amused by such teas. Broadly speaking, in my experience, high quality Yiwu of any stripe is as rare as hen's teeth in terms of public availability. As for qi, I've had strong qi from '04 YQH, '07 CGHT Chawang, '99 Changtai, and '11 Nadacha GFZ. None of them were all *that* impressive in terms of strength or finesse. Certainly not such that they could compare with the best from other areas. I think the area surrounding Mahei is plumb picked out, really, so the only new leaves I trust from Yiwu to age well is GFZ. Also, I do not think top end Yiwu is a milder taste than top end Lao Banzhang. Nonpure LBZ, yeah, but the pure (sweetleaf)stuff is very sneaky and mild. I suspect Yiwu is also not milder than Bingdao--the pure stuff, not that stuff that's extra peppery and fir trees.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby fdrx » Feb 17th, '13, 22:25

The Tai Lian 02 is a great recommandation shah, it doesn't mean it's unbeatable, and like i said it's just my own opinion. I can't always drink in other people words and never share my opinions, even if they are wrong. Yes, i've noticed people here almost never push the best teas...

To go back to the thread, i agree that green doesn't mean bad: I invested in a few bings like that because the tea is thick, has an expresso aftertaste and a big and obvious relaxing qi... in this case the taste is not the best part but it's not bad either...

you're going to receive a sample of a yiwu-opram definitely mild and one note...
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby fdrx » Feb 17th, '13, 22:36

As there is a tong of it in my basement, I hope your observations of 901 7542 does not speak for the production in general. It may be time to break some out and see how it is doing!

I hope i am also mistaken! But honestly it's decent and i quite like the taste, it doesn't hurt my stomach either.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby Tead Off » Feb 17th, '13, 23:14

The Tai Lian 02 that I have from Yunnan Sourcing is one of the smokiest teas I've had and renders it, IMO, as not enjoyable to drink. After more than 10 years, to have this kind of smokiness, has to be reflected in its price. Now, some may enjoy smoky teas like this one. If you do, it's very drinkable. For me, the smoke interferes with the taste of tea and obscures this aspect of enjoyment. Feeling is another matter. Some drink for the feeling
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby shah82 » Feb 17th, '13, 23:39

I have gotten the reaction that the Tai Lian tastes smoky when I brought it for a tea get-together, so don't think you're alone in thinking it smoky, Tead Off.

For me, I've found other teas that have bothered me more about smokiness. Many Dayi, while not objectionable, are too dependent on smoke lending it tasteful qualities, and many of them, say the 0622 or PuTiYuan have very little real sheng flavor underneath the smoke. The worst smoke definitely has to be the Tai Lian Youle from '04. The Sanhetang Pasha has a real degree of smokiness.

I do not think smokiness is a key demerit when it comes to evaluating sheng. Most or all of the Bok Choy banzhangs were/are smoky, and the late '90s Hualian bricks are notoriously smoky. Teas like the '03 Jingmai Eco-tea from Xinghai are celebrated for having a similar smoky quality as those late nineties Hualien bricks. It eventually does diminish, though different methods (and waters) of brewing teas can emphasize or diminish the smoke in the taste.

As you can see, it's not the best tea in the world, and really? Not the friendliest tea to be introduced to. It's a good example of a tea that's better than what the sample might give, in my opinion. On the other hand, it's very easy to spend $100-$300 on 2002 tea that isn't as good.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby Tead Off » Feb 18th, '13, 00:06

shah82 wrote:
I do not think smokiness is a key demerit when it comes to evaluating sheng.

On the other hand, it's very easy to spend $100-$300 on 2002 tea that isn't as good.


I have tasted teas where smokiness was very agreeable. I just didn't find it so with the Tai Lian.

This is why buying samples is very important in the decision making process. Spending hard earned money on teas that are not agreeable is avoidable. Minimizing tuition is part of the game.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby Teaism » Feb 18th, '13, 00:12

shah82 wrote:I have gotten the reaction that the Tai Lian tastes smoky when I brought it for a tea get-together, so don't think you're alone in thinking it smoky, Tead Off.

For me, I've found other teas that have bothered me more about smokiness. Many Dayi, while not objectionable, are too dependent on smoke lending it tasteful qualities, and many of them, say the 0622 or PuTiYuan have very little real sheng flavor underneath the smoke. The worst smoke definitely has to be the Tai Lian Youle from '04. The Sanhetang Pasha has a real degree of smokiness.

I do not think smokiness is a key demerit when it comes to evaluating sheng. Most or all of the Bok Choy banzhangs were/are smoky, and the late '90s Hualian bricks are notoriously smoky. Teas like the '03 Jingmai Eco-tea from Xinghai are celebrated for having a similar smoky quality as those late nineties Hualien bricks. It eventually does diminish, though different methods (and waters) of brewing teas can emphasize or diminish the smoke in the taste.

As you can see, it's not the best tea in the world, and really? Not the friendliest tea to be introduced to. It's a good example of a tea that's better than what the sample might give, in my opinion. On the other hand, it's very easy to spend $100-$300 on 2002 tea that isn't as good.



I have no issue with smokiness. Many wild tea are smoky as they are processed in remote huts and the smoke from the fire wood were absorded by the tea.

Having said that that, what lies beneth the smokiness is really important i.e. the inherent quality of the tea. Whether it is oloong taste or not, many good tea have consistent quality of strength of good natural flavours and lasting brews with flavour that is unforgetttable. In tea assessment, one should not look at the literature of the tea, i.e. the stories and the paper or any other marketing catch words like oloong or wild big tree etc.. The tea should be assessed based on its inherent quality. Technical jargon and marketing catch words should be avoided.

It is just like tasting truffles, we know that it is good once tasted and willing to pay the high price for it. But to be decieved with the taste of mushroom with artificial truffles oil and to pay the same price by the customer is in many tea merchants' dream. :shock:
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby shah82 » Feb 18th, '13, 01:46

Tead Off, I think it's basically impossible to avoid tuition tea. Samples simply do not convey the full range of a cake's possibilities, especially in taste. Even if you buy after loving a sample, you can wind up with a subpar cake for some reason like just a bad batch. Or you fall out of love with the flavor. Or...

Your exploratory approach to samples should be as a means to have a very rough assessment of what the tea is like. And to put a cake in disfavor simply because you find it too smoky is actually a very common mistake (or was); you can find many stories about smoke dissipating into nice tea and having to pay much more for it. What underlies the smoke is what matters. Nice smoke over poor sheng is bad. Bad smoke over good sheng is good. Thinking in the long term.

Teaism, I think it's important to allow the shopkeeps to shape your expectations. You find out which shopkeeps are honest people who brings in good stuff, and which shopkeeps are...more diffident, because the good ones will tell a story that amplifies your sense of what the tea delivers. You catch more of the subtleties it offers. The bad ones usually can't say much about the tea, and what they say tends to be contradicted by what the tea does. Then you get into an argument about tea prep, etc, etc, etc.

Could you get fooled by mushrooms laced with truffles? Yup. Tuition, bud, it's a bummer. The idea is to develop the palate such that this doesn't happen, and with some reading, interactions, and get togethers with other capheads, you probably can avoid the obvious frauds. Then fall for the more subtle ones.

Virtually all confidence tricks are based on a victim's induced sense of confidence. Yup, saying it tautologically, just to get it straight in people's heads. You are usually *never* fighting someone else's impressions, but your own, encouraged by other people. Other people telling you that you're full of fecal matter is a most excellent thing, especially when done intelligently. You get to be that much freer of your own bonds, and enjoy that much more tea, or buy that much more effectively.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby Teaism » Feb 18th, '13, 02:05

Shah,

You are a wise man in tea. :)

Of the thousands trips made to many teashops in China and Asia, so many years, I have less than 5 merchants who I can confidently buy tea from.

It is just because of the tea I am looking for.

Still I have to rely on decades of tasting and experience and stay vigilant all the time, but still there occasions of error on my judgement. So it is really a mammoth task and never ending process in the pursuit for excellent tea.

Have a good day my tea friend.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby Tead Off » Feb 18th, '13, 02:08

Minimize is the adjective that I used. And, yes, you can minimize tuition, but not escape it.

I am very willing to pass on a tea that doesn't stand up well from a sample (sample to me is at least 25g and more than one sitting) than to hope that buying a cake will improve it when I can focus on buying from samples that I already like. Can I make a mistake? Of course, but the mistakes are minimized. Works for me.

When a tea still is very smoky after 10 years, do you really think it is going to dissipate very much? If it was me having to decide whether I wanted to buy a tea that was too smoky for my taste at present, I would simply pass. Too many other teas out there that will satisfy my requirements rather than gamble on time being on my side. Only people with money to spare buy indiscriminately. I am on the side of the every man not the merchant when it comes to value and tea.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby brandon » Feb 21st, '13, 08:12

Hi Pu Fans,
Variation in sun dry withering - tradition or foolish? Oolongization?
Have a look at this spring Nannuo and tell me what you think.
I will name the specific tea and maker later on.

Image
Image
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby TIM » Feb 21st, '13, 08:54

brandon wrote:Hi Pu Fans,
Variation in sun dry withering - tradition or foolish? Oolongization?
Have a look at this spring Nannuo and tell me what you think.
I will name the specific tea and maker later on.

Image
Image


Where are the liquor Boss?
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby brandon » Feb 21st, '13, 09:24

Sorry didn't get a chance to document last night :oops:
Will have to start a fresh pot after work! Will post a few brews.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby ChengduCha » Feb 21st, '13, 09:39

Tead Off wrote:When a tea still is very smoky after 10 years, do you really think it is going to dissipate very much?


A tea seller recently told me that smoky flavor in pu erh is mainly processing related and will most likely stay this way because of it.
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