New to tea, help identifying gift


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

New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby Bostonbull » Nov 25th, '13, 21:04

I am a recent tea convert, glad I found this forum. Only been experimenting for about 2 months now, and limited by what I can find locally, but happy with what I have found around Boston so far.

A friend just returned from Guangzhou,and brought me back 3 cakes and a tin of what I believe are all Pu-Erh tea. I am hoping you folks can help me identify them, teach me how I should be brewing them, and what pot/cup I should buy to brew at home.

As of now I buy a cup at the local spot who offer loose leaf teas, in other words I am a virgin tea drinker! Any hidden shops in Boston or Chinatown?
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby shah82 » Nov 25th, '13, 21:14

first is black tea.

cake is generic tourist trap stuff.
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby Bostonbull » Nov 25th, '13, 21:20

shah82 wrote:first is black tea.

cake is generic tourist trap stuff.



First one in the tin worthwhile?

What to do with the 3 cakes?
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby MIKE_B » Nov 25th, '13, 21:48

Boston is a vast tea wasteland. You are better off buying online. Search this site for good vendors. Lifeinateacup, Teatrekker and Upton's all ship out of MA.
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby Bostonbull » Nov 25th, '13, 22:20

Tried some black today, it was good. (to my limited pallette at least!)

How should I brew it? Amount, temp, time, etc.


What should I do with these 3 cakes?
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby MIKE_B » Nov 25th, '13, 22:48

I'd brew the dianhong in a gaiwan, about half full of leaf. 30s first infusion and adjust from there. Black Chinese tea (red tea), I'd only expect to get a few brews out of it.
You said you already tried and you like it. Maybe just keep brewing it that way.
Not sure what kind of puerh you have there. Cooked or green?
Break off a chunk, throw it in your pot. Pour boiling water over it and pour it off quickly. Throw this brew out. This is "the wash".
You have plenty of tea there to experiment. Find out how YOU like it.
If you don't like the cakes, put them in a box and forget about them for a decade or two. Lol.
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby Bostonbull » Nov 26th, '13, 16:17

Thanks Mike!


What variety/type would you say the tin of tea is?
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby teaskeptic » Nov 26th, '13, 17:06

The tin says what it is: Dian Hong. It's a black tea from Yunnan, which will probably have some puerh flavours and be a bit different from the black teas you're used to.
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby Bostonbull » Nov 26th, '13, 20:47

Bear with me as I am new to tea.

From what I have read Dian Hong is a tea type, not the variety within that type? ie golden tips, yellow gold, black gold..... All varieties of Dian hong for sale from what I have seen.

Am I reading wrong? If not what variety is this tin, can you tell or do I need to post a picture of its contents?
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby shah82 » Nov 26th, '13, 21:01

Dian hong is red tea made from Yunnan tea bushes.

Dian == Yunnan's old name

Hong==red, the oxidized tea that people know in the West as black tea like keemum.

There are many different ways to make Dian hong, and yeah, there is very little stylistic distinction in the written descriptions, aside from how tippy a tea is.
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby teaskeptic » Nov 26th, '13, 21:07

You sound confused because tea nomenclature is confusing. There isn't really a standard on how to name teas, and every vendor uses whatever labeling they want. Dian Hong literally means "Yunnan red", and I don't think you will get much more specific than that.

Are you hoping that this tea is something specific, or are you just trying to learn? You can post pictures of the tea, but I don't think I or anyone else will be able to help you (prove me wrong, TC!), since all these names don't really mean much. I don't even know what the difference is between golden tips, yellow gold, and black gold. These all just sound like generic names for Yunnan black tea to me.
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby Bostonbull » Nov 26th, '13, 22:09

I devour knowledge, teach me. But don't tell me they mean nothing because that's the easy answer.

I don't know anything about tea, yet, I want to though!

I am inclined To think much like other crops there are subtle (sometimes not so subtle) nuances within a certain sub genre of said crop. Case in point, stone fruits. We all agree that peaches are a sub genre of stone fruit, yes? How about nectarines? Stone fruit as well? Within those 2 types of stone fruit, there are many varieties, each with their own flavors, colors, shapes, and sizes that lend themselves to a specific mouth feel and flavor profile. Not to mention cost.

My gut tells me this is the same with tea.......?
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby teaskeptic » Nov 26th, '13, 22:35

Bostonbull wrote:I devour knowledge, teach me. But don't tell me they mean nothing because that's the easy answer.

I don't know anything about tea, yet, I want to though!

I am inclined To think much like other crops there are subtle (sometimes not so subtle) nuances within a certain sub genre of said crop. Case in point, stone fruits. We all agree that peaches are a sub genre of stone fruit, yes? How about nectarines? Stone fruit as well? Within those 2 types of stone fruit, there are many varieties, each with their own flavors, colors, shapes, and sizes that lend themselves to a specific mouth feel and flavor profile. Not to mention cost.

My gut tells me this is the same with tea.......?


Your gut means well, but it is wrong in this case. In your stone fruit analogy, peaches could be listed as: peaches, nectarines, necta-peaches, monkey picked peaches, king nectarines, traditional peaches, golden tippy apricots, aged apple peach nectarines, hand-picked peaches (before the rains), etc... etc... etc... And the differences would often be meaningless and/or irrelevant.

Your quest for tea knowledge is not wasted though! This is definitely a good place to ask questions. You seem to be starting in a strange subset of teas though; in my opinion Yunnan blacks are too fine a set to begin with. I would suggest first learning about the more popular tea names in the larger subsets of teas: greens, oolongs, blacks, and puerhs.

If you still want to get to the bottom of the Dian Hong, why not order another "Dian Hong" from another vendor and see how your two teas differ? Forget the names and just drink.
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby Bostonbull » Nov 26th, '13, 22:56

Too in depth, just looking for the major differences not the finite meaningless differences. I get what your saying, and understand with tea, tobacco, coffee, wine, etc the marketing is skewed toward the terroir and not the product itself.

This was a gift brought back on a recent trip to that region of China, not ordered. More tea here than I know what to do with.

What scares me off, for now, of ordering tea to brew is the vast spread of suggested temps, methods, and equipment. As mentioned in another post if I could get by with hot water from the Keurig, and a Gaiwan or another simple brewing setup I could be more explorative.

I know I like green teas, oolong, black. White is OK, but doesn't blow my mind. This is based off of just loose leaf options at the local high end coffee shops as I haven't found any tea shops in or around Boston that aren't Taevana or Davids.


What do you suggest to solve the above?
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Re: New to tea, help identifying gift

Postby teaskeptic » Nov 26th, '13, 23:21

A gaiwan should definitely be your first teaware purchase. You can use it to brew any of the teas you mentioned, and gaiwans are usually pretty cheap. To me, this is a no-brainer. Don't worry about Yixings and all that jazz. When I first got started I used a gaiwan for brewing, and then poured into a mug. I can't comment on the Keurig because I don't know what it is. But a gaiwan and boiling water should get you pretty far.
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