My New Pu


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

My New Pu

Postby augie » Feb 29th, '08, 19:37

2005 1st SE Asia PuEhr Trade memorial Cake, raw. I'm so excited, I don't really know what this is and I don't care! It's so cool, my first Pu Ehr tea cake. It's much bigger than I thought it would be (let you know how it tastes later, I'm going out for dinner now):

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Re: My New Pu

Postby Salsero » Feb 29th, '08, 20:05

augie wrote:I'm so excited, I don't really know what this is and I don't care! It's so cool, my first Pu Ehr tea cake.
I know, I know! I feel the same way. They are just so beautiful to look at, to caress, to be intimate with ... who cares what they taste like!!
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Postby JM » Feb 29th, '08, 21:00

it looks like nice pu.
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Postby augie » Feb 29th, '08, 22:32

Here's the deal, and some ???s:
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Left my Pu Ehr knife at work. Oh well. . . do y'all just pitch the dust & fannings? I hate to do anything with them because they are from another country and could have small micro-organisms that I don't need in the house or outside. It's just going to rinse off. Going to chuck it.
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Then we weighed it -- Yes, I used a balance! I'm becoming so grown up and responsible. Left my gaiwan at work, not going to show you how I brewed. :wink:
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First infusion about 2 minutes or so, too long. It was bitter and too intense. Yuk.
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Second infusion at 55 seconds. Much better, very light taste. Wasn't very impressed, though. Maybe tomorrow things will go differently. I probably need a Yixing.
1. Should I have a Yixing? Will that Yixing have to be dedicated to only raw pu ehr?
2. Do I steam the whole cake? After I steam it, if that's necessary, I just dry all day and store loose? What is the sense of buying a cake just to steam it loose? I have some loose pu ehr that I am perfectly satisfied with.
3. If I should steam it loose, what should I do with it? Airtight vessel? Breathable?
Sorry for the 5 mile long post. Buying this cake has brought on so many questions. I also bought, from Hou De, 2007 Winter Mei-Shan Wood-roasted "Shui Xian" Oolong that I am going to go brew right now and finish my new book. Tomorrow I go out in searth of a teapot.
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Postby Wesli » Mar 1st, '08, 00:02

Brewed the young sheng for 2 minutes or so? yikes! You'll want to look into "Gongfu" brewing. It involves using a lot of leaf, and brewing for a short amount of time. As to a yixing, I've gone on and off of wanting to use them. Gaiwans deliver the tea in a more natural state, while the yixing tends to change the taste somewhat.

Your cake looks great!

I stick all the leftover powder and tiny dry bits in a small storage vessel, to age away.
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Postby Salsero » Mar 1st, '08, 00:49

augie wrote:1. Should I have a Yixing? Will that Yixing have to be dedicated to only raw pu ehr?
2. Do I steam the whole cake? After I steam it, if that's necessary, I just dry all day and store loose? What is the sense of buying a cake just to steam it loose? I have some loose pu ehr that I am perfectly satisfied with.
3. If I should steam it loose, what should I do with it? Airtight vessel? Breathable?
Sorry for the 5 mile long post.
Don't be sorry for the long post! This is the type of tea pOrn some of us live for!

No need to buy a yixing pot, it's perfectly acceptable and tea-snobbish to brew pu in a gaiwan. If you say it right, you can even convince people that you are too sophisticated for yixing. On the other hand nothing (not even a kitteh) is as cute as a yixing pot!

If you do get a yixing you will probably want to brew mostly sheng in it. (I am a little promiscuous about my pots, however -- but don't tell anyone.) IMHO, the pots tend to take some of the astringency out of young pu and generally give it a softer and more agreeable profile, but the gaiwan gives you the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

DON'T STEAM YOUR FIRST CAKE. I think most pu lovers have never steamed a cake or part of a cake. There is a big risk of ruining it. Yes, you are right, part of the reason it is puerh is because it is compressed. The compression contributes to the aging process. Most feel that mao cha (sheng that has never been compressed) ages poorly. By all means, experiment with steaming, but do it with a piece of your 15th cake or an inferior cake, but not your first which looks like a pretty decent quality cake!

A sort of standard (if there is such a thing) starting point for brewing a new puerh is to use 1 gr of pu to 30 ml of water, that's probably about a heaping tablespoon in a 100 ml gaiwan or less than 1/4 of the gaiwan. 20 s is a good trial infusion time to start, but some puerh will require no more than 5 sec and some will need a good 45 sec. If it is astringent or harsh, shorten your time. If it is too bland, lengthen your time. bearsbearsbears has a nice set of instructions for beginners at viewtopic.php?t=3551. He uses about twice as much tea as I usually start with, but often that works better. You'll get to know a tea pretty well after making it a few times.

My first impression of young puerh was also a vague disappointment. After all the hype anything would be a let down. Just as with most things, you have to live with it for a while before you start to recognize its features. Until that level of familiarity is established, you will probably tend to think of it as a poor version of something else. Just drink it for a while without passing judgement; relax and let the tea get to know you. I thought of young sheng as kind of disappointing green tea. Old sheng I still tend to think of in reference to assam or shu or something else because I haven't had very much old (expensive!) stuff. But with a tiny bit of time you start to recognize the tea as puerh and not a pale version of something else.

Thanks for sharing the experience with us. Keep us posted!
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Postby augie » Mar 1st, '08, 09:44

Salsero wrote:Don't be sorry for the long post! This is the type of tea pOrn some of us live for!


OMG, I'm pretty pittiful . . . :wink: I guess that is the excitement - a good laugh.

Salsero wrote:No need to buy a yixing pot, it's perfectly acceptable and tea-snobbish to brew pu in a gaiwan.

My gaiwan, which is at work presently, is small. Only 6-8 oz, but I guess that is sufficient. I'm accustomed to using my ingenuitea, unfortunately, which has trained me to make coffee mug sized brews. I need to scale down.

Salsero wrote:If you do get a yixing you will probably want to brew mostly sheng in it.

OK, here is my biggest question. This has been gnawing at me for a while because I have had a glimpse at some of your (meaning everyone) "pots and cups" in the 14 pg thread, which makes me very dizzy. I am a very simple person with a small house just under 2500 sq ft. I just can't manage all that teaware. That balance of "J's" takes up a ton of counter space on my already cluttered island.
If I were to buy a yixing, I could use it for *any* Pu Ehr Sheng? I drink all kinds of tea because I don't want to get bored. I can't afford or store a brewing vessle for everything!

Salsar wrote:DON'T STEAM YOUR FIRST CAKE. I think most pu lovers have never steamed a cake or part of a cake. There is a big risk of ruining it.

Thanks, I wasnt very entheusiastic about the whole steaming process. It didn't look easy, I don't have a bamboo steamer either. I am going to store the cake in my pantry away from the onions and dog food!

Salsero wrote:A sort of standard (if there is such a thing) starting point for brewing a new puerh is to use 1 gr of pu to 30 ml of water, that's probably about a heaping tablespoon in a 100 ml gaiwan or less than 1/4 of the gaiwan.

The picture I posted was 8g Pu and 10 oz water. Infused in my Adagio glass infuser with the SS brew basket. First infusion, my fault, too long and too much pu. So, I just picked out a few leaves and twigs and brewed a 2nd infusion for 55 seconds which was much better, but almost no flavor. Hint of green and a mild bitter aftertaste. 3rd infusion was great. I am going to try again after I finish my coffee and am completely awake! I will also check Bears tutorial.

I don't know why I brewed that first cup so long. When I drink Pu at work I steep for 30sec to 1 min.

Salsero wrote:Thanks for sharing the experience with us. Keep us posted!

Fortunately, I never seem to run out of crazy questions. The 3rd inf went much better. I was very nervous waiting for my order because there were some cakes that were *much* more expensive but not that much older. I really didn't want to spend much more than $30 bucks not really knowing what I was doing. Samples helped to understand that I like raw, however after the raw samples were gone the cooked weren't that bad either. . . I just decided to buy what I could afford and see where that led. Thanks!!!
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Postby Salsero » Mar 1st, '08, 14:33

augie wrote: I am going to store the cake in my pantry away from the onions and dog food!
Don't let the dog get any. He might develop an expensive habit.

Warguineapig in Slovakia just posted a review of your pu today at http://tuochatea.blogspot.com/2008/03/2 ... trade.html. At the bottom of his post he provides a link to an even better review of the tea by Hobbes.

A single yixing would be fine for all your raw puerh needs, but if you NEVER buy a pot you will still be just fine with a gaiwan. The gaiwans I use the most are generally under 4 oz in capacity, which is a nice size for gong fu brewing. You may want to think about getting a little smaller gaiwan and cup so you can gong fu before you start getting involved in yixing. But everyone's path is a little different.
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Postby augie » Mar 1st, '08, 15:21

Salsero wrote: You may want to think about getting a little smaller gaiwan and cup so you can gong fu before you start getting involved in yixing. But everyone's path is a little different.


You're not kidding -- my path is *always* different! :wink:

Phase 2 of my Pu Ehr quest day. I went into our local tea joint downtown Indianapolis. Tea & Herb (or maybe its Herb & Tea)in City Market. Since it's saturday and the traffic isn't bad I decided to go right when they opened. He had a really cool Yixing pot BUT it was about a GALLON capacity! No joke, this thing was the Winnebago of teapots. $80 bucks (probably a good deal for a mofo of a Yixing pot). He said he had to hold it in his lap on the plane (I'd want more $$$ after holding that monster the whole way back to Indy from china, wheew! I had to settle for this one:
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And in it I am brewing a sample "Tea Dude" gave me:
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I feel like a Junkie. He had an $80 teacake there that was from 1975 - seriously thinking about going to get it, but he doesn't know what it is. Actually, it's a language barrier thing -- he probably can't put it into terms I can understand! It was so beautiful. then he dives under the counter and gets into his personal stash. It's this ancient teacake (he wouldn't say how ancient) that he has been breaking off of for 2 years. It was in a gorgeous black box with gold lettering and a gold satin lining. Absolutely opulent. He broke off a big chunk of his Pu Ehr, looks cooked to me, and put it in a Ziploc for me! I have no idea who this guy is, but I tried it and it's excellent. Like a drug dealer, he gives me a sample, knowing I will pawn my watch to go buy that dang cake he has sitting there!! Ugh, I hate myself. However, my husband does like it too, so it would be for two people and some for later. And it comes in a lovely box already.

Anyway, what a Saturday! I'll post the picture of my new big cake when i get it.
Thanks a ton for all your help. Tea Dude said he wouldn't think of steaming either . . .
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Postby Salsero » Mar 1st, '08, 15:43

augie wrote:Image

Wise choice to pass on the gallon yixing! The one you got kind of reminds me of a pelican. Cool looking pot. What's the capacity?
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Postby ABx » Mar 1st, '08, 16:17

Salsero wrote:
augie wrote:Image

Wise choice to pass on the gallon yixing! The one you got kind of reminds me of a pelican. Cool looking pot. What's the capacity?
These are usually around 8oz - I have one of the same with a couple of Chinese characters instead of a pattern. You might see about the smaller ones (around 4oz) if they have them, augie. You can really get a whole lot more from your puerh by brewing less at a time and more frequently. Here's the ones I have to show the comparison:

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The small ones really are wonderful pots, the most useful ones I have. They brew just about anything with a minimum of hassle. The middle one gets more use than any other brewing vessel in the house (the green one went to family because my thin fingers had a hard time with the handle), I only use gaiwans or yixing for pretty specific teas anymore.
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Postby augie » Mar 2nd, '08, 10:52

ABx, yes, I see the one on the right, very ornate handle! Mine does not have a hole at the top to equalize air/water pressure, however, there may be a slight imbalance in the lid to let air in. the spout is quite big also. It doesn't give me any trouble pouring, though. I am happy with it and see no need, right now, to buy a yixing.

I am looking for another gaiwan. I just haven't seen one that I absolutely have to have that I can afford. The right gaiwan will eventually find me!

I didn't use the screen/basket in mine. I wanted the leaves to have plenty of room. I used the mesh basket to catch the few leaves that did pour out and then turned it upside down over the top of the pot.

Regarding that 1l yixing: I just looked at that bus and laughed inside! It would be a great "conversation piece" or decoration. The very first thought that popped into my head when i laid eyes on it: "looks like a small pumpkin with a handle and spout!"
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Postby Proinsias » Mar 2nd, '08, 15:03

If you're planning on drinking a fair amount of pu-erh, aka having a few cakes around, I would opt for a cheap yixing pot. The small ~100ml gaiwan should also be on the list as it is indispensable for most tea-time situations and is pretty damn cheap.

The reason I would recommend the pot over the gaiwan is this: The gaiwan is often favoured by experts/connoisseurs as the best way to evaluate a tea, in deciding whether or not to fill a warehouse/cupboard with it etc. The clinically clean and smooth surface of the gaiwan hides nothing and adds nothing.

This would be ok if we could all drink 40 year old dry stored sheng everyday but this is not the case.

A yixing pot on the hand works very differently. It improves with use, it mutes harsh notes in young teas, it adds depth to shallow teas. As MarshalN noted recently, if you are drinking lots of one kind of tea in a gaiwan then you are effectively washing away all the stuff that could be used to raise a lovely yixing pot, I think it got to the point where he mentioned 'waste' in connection with gaiwan brewing.

If you continue to drink pu-erh you may lament time wasted on a gaiwan, if you go off drinking pu-erh an hour or so in boiling water with some other tea and the pot is ready for your next fad.

Part of me wishes that people would stop posting pics of their new acquisitions, I'd just set my sights on some new Japanese teaware and now you lot go and show up with pics of cool jug/pot type things that will also have to be shoe horned into the tea budget.
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Postby Salsero » Mar 2nd, '08, 16:02

I also have a pelican pot that a friend brought me from Taiwan. With a capacity of almost a pint, it is unfortunately too big from my normal tea brewing.
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I've always wondered about the design on the teacups. With the horses and chariots they look more Greco-Roman than Chinese.
ImageAnd the writing
doesn't look Chinese either.Image
Mmm ...
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Postby andy825 » Mar 2nd, '08, 21:58

What is that little gourd and screen apparatus in front of the mug? I happened across a few of them, and I don't know what they are for. It seems too flimsy to use as a tea strainer, but what else could it be?
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