Tools for Rock Solid Puerh


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

Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby AllanK » Jul 25th, '13, 01:39

What do people use to break off truly rock solid puerh? I bought a brick that was so well pressed it ruined a toucha pick and damn near ruined a $200 heavy duty chefs knife. I ended up buying a small chisel just for this one puerh. It is admittedly, a desperate measure but I didn't have a better idea other than not drinking the tea or getting bits of tea everywhere (before I got the chisel I had to chop at the thing with the knife like an axe).
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby shah82 » Jul 25th, '13, 02:07

Was it a Xiaguan brick?

Also, get another pick, an icepick, the tuocha pick might not have been built well enough. It is dangerous to use knives of any sort. People have stabbed themselves trying that.

Set the brick on one of the edges in your tray, grip the icepick with your use-hand. With that same use-hand, use the bottom of the palm to rest on top of the brick, firmly, with whatever grip you can manage (most likely you will only manage to rest the edge of the palm on the brick rather than any sort of grip). From that tip of the pick's slight angle above the edge of the brick, lower it using your wrist. This seems to maximize leverage for those incredibly dense bricks, and you have the option of non-use hand to grip the top of the pick as well, and add another bit of arm strength.

Well, that's how I did it for those 100g XZH Zhangjiawan bricks, which were the densest I've ever had to deal with.
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby Tead Off » Jul 25th, '13, 03:00

I use an oyster shucker. I have no problem breaking up Xiaguan iron cakes. Works well on everything.
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby SilentChaos » Jul 25th, '13, 06:28

XG?

http://tinyurl.com/kg3o2d2

This works every time.
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby TomVerlain » Jul 25th, '13, 06:51

don't chop - or slice, you get small bits that add to bitterness. Touchas are more difficult than cakes, cakes you can get an edge and flake off layers.

Some people steam them first, there are threads on this.

The xaiguan touchas I have need about 10 more years before I think I'll try to crack them.
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby ChengduCha » Jul 25th, '13, 07:45

That's what tea picks and tea knifes are for, which cost $2 instead of $200. :D

http://yunnansourcing.com/en/brushesand ... imple.html

http://yunnansourcing.com/en/brushesand ... cakes.html

For tight bricks I prefer a flat tea knife without sharp edges, but you got to pick your spots on the brick well, otherwise there is a serious chance of hurting yourself or destroying your kitchen table.
Last edited by ChengduCha on Jul 25th, '13, 07:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby Bad Jedi » Jul 25th, '13, 07:45

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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby AllanK » Jul 25th, '13, 08:10

shah82 wrote:Was it a Xiaguan brick?

Also, get another pick, an icepick, the tuocha pick might not have been built well enough. It is dangerous to use knives of any sort. People have stabbed themselves trying that.

Set the brick on one of the edges in your tray, grip the icepick with your use-hand. With that same use-hand, use the bottom of the palm to rest on top of the brick, firmly, with whatever grip you can manage (most likely you will only manage to rest the edge of the palm on the brick rather than any sort of grip). From that tip of the pick's slight angle above the edge of the brick, lower it using your wrist. This seems to maximize leverage for those incredibly dense bricks, and you have the option of non-use hand to grip the top of the pick as well, and add another bit of arm strength.

Well, that's how I did it for those 100g XZH Zhangjiawan bricks, which were the densest I've ever had to deal with.


Good suggestion. I ordered an icepick, an oyster knife, and a scratch awl from Amazon and will see which works best on that brick, which was a Haiwan 100g brick.
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby JD » Jul 25th, '13, 15:46

I personally just use a pocket knife for pu-er. The blade on it is about 2 inches long. I have three of them and they're very sharp. But in the last 5 years of prying pu I never once cut or stabbed myself with any of them. The trick is to be careful and keep your other hand nowhere near the knife. Don't attempt to cut small pieces of pu-er individually, but large bricks and cakes are fine. Keep your hand all the way on the other side of the brick/cake, offset or lower from where the knife is aimed so that if the knife hits a soft spot and stabs through the cake your hand isn't there to stop it. Tou/Tuo's are a bit dangerous, though. Laying it on it's top and cutting down the sides seems to be the easiest way.

I've seen knives being sold as pu-er picks/knives. Most are like dull letter openers. Still dangerous and could stab your hand if not careful. Picks can stab your hand too.

I too own a rock hard pu brick. I think it's hard due to how hot or how long they cooked it for because it's hard as a brick. The knife seems to work fine on it, though. It's small and can get into cracks easily. The trick is to find a crack on it and nudge it open. If you can't find a crack then try to bend the brick back and forth a few times to soften it and break it up inside. If it still doesn't work I suggest a hammer. No, seriously, a hammer. Bash it a few times. You don't *have* to be careful with it if it's going to be a pain to pry into. Not worth the headache. Just crack some of it off with a hammer then try prying into that piece.
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby MEversbergII » Jul 29th, '13, 08:50

Fortunately, I've not had one of these uber-hard cakes yet. However, I imagine a hacksaw might be an option :p

I've been told the hydraulic pressed cakes are the pits, while the more traditional stone pressed ones are easier going. I don't know anywhere that tells you how the cakes were pressed, though.

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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby jayinhk » Jul 30th, '13, 10:05

Lateral torsion on a locking pocket knife is not ideal...great way to get the lock to fail!

One of these would be better IMO:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Woodworking-Pic ... 1c2b016d38

I have yet to try an XG, but my pu erh pick makes quick work of the cakes I've had to deal with so far--I just find an opening and wiggle it in. :twisted:
Last edited by jayinhk on Jul 30th, '13, 17:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby ole » Jul 30th, '13, 16:51

JD wrote: Picks can stab your hand too.

Yes, yes they can. I can testify to that. :lol:
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby wyardley » Jul 30th, '13, 18:22

I use both a pick and an oyster knife, but I think a tuocha pick is best, especially with heavily compressed tea.

As with knives, you want to take steps to make it difficult / impossible to stab yourself (i.e., make sure if the tool slips, it won't hit your hand).

If you're going to be drinking it in a short time period, you could also try the steaming / drying out method.
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby gingkoseto » Jul 30th, '13, 21:20

xiaguan issued its own tuo cha tool which is somewhat like pliers.
For some hei cha, the traditional tool is a saw. Looks like your brick needs a saw, or maybe you could leave it alone for a few more years?
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Re: Tools for Rock Solid Puerh

Postby Emmett » Jul 31st, '13, 02:38

If you get the angle down with a pick on tuochas and get in from the side on most bricks you can get it apart, just dont expect to get any leaf apart you will just get chunks. Make small pokes in a few areas in a line and then go back to them and start to pry open slowly.

I remember Hster stating on her blog that her husband would use a table saw for some of her hardest bricks.

I think the hardets compression I have run into are the tiny little bricks from douji.
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