help me with my expensive sheng!


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

help me with my expensive sheng!

Postby drumhum » Jul 18th, '08, 17:02

I went a bit wild a few weeks (months?) ago and bought a cake of this...

http://tinyurl.com/59tscv

I am new to the world of puerh. I have really enjoyed drinking three cooked puerhs so far and thought it was time to investigate the "proper stuff". Believing in "you get what you pay for" I went for the above expensive stuff (yeah I know you can spend a lot more than this!)

Can anyone recognise exactly what this puerh is? Who makes it? etc?
Anyone have any opinion on what it they would expect from it?

I would appreciate an informed view as I am struggling to like it, and I think some pointers would help.

I have tried brewing it in lots of ways - different brew times, tea quantities etc. but as much as I want to love it, I can't.

The taste is clean but leans to bitterness. I shorten brew times to avoid the bitterness but then the flavour seems to be too light to me. I've tried as much as 8 or 9g in 150ml of water but then the flavour seems too sharp somehow. sort of over saturated like you might get with too much oolong leaf.

It can also be pretty hard on the stomach - I've had a few cramps from this stuff!

Could it be this tea is too young? It feels to me it needs to mellow out - but then I'm just guessing with no experience at all!

I can't believe this tea is just bad tea as this Jing (UK) have always provided extremely good Oolongs and have a very good reputation.

Is raw pu so far away from cooked? Is the mellow, warming, tree bark-nature only found in cooked? This raw stuff is as different from my cooked stuff as oolong is from black tea!

Perhaps this puerh's taste is what you guys all love so much - Its so hard to know!

Two cooked puerhs I adore:
2006 Fu Hai 7576, meng hai
2005 Boyou 7262 - Menghai Boyou tea factory
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Postby Proinsias » Jul 18th, '08, 17:25

It's probably worth spending some money on a small amount of aged sheng, maybe 20 yrs plus to get an idea of what sheng is trying to achieve.
I've not tried the cake you link to but I imagine unless you have a taste for young sheng it could be a little harsh.

What water temp are you using? Boiling is good for investigating young sheng but I find something much cooler, green or white temps, to be quite handy when drinking young sheng for enjoyment.

If you feel it needs to mellow out then that is probably the case, 2000 is still pretty young in pu-erh land.

Of course there is always the possibility that it is just crap tea.

Cooked pu-erh is meant to simulate aged, and I'm thinking here 20yrs at least, sheng. It can take a few years for cooked pu-erh to lose some of it's artificial character and by that time it can hopefully imitate the really old stuff.
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Postby shogun89 » Jul 18th, '08, 17:38

I'm no expert but I may be able to help. I hate to say this but you should have done a lot more reading and introducing yourself into the world of pu erh. First of all I cannot identify this cake for you. You should know that there are many counterfeits on the market once you get into these cakes, not to say this one is but just be aware of the selling, ask questions, get a feel to whether this guy knows what he's talking about. Pu erh is an acquired taste and takes some getting used too. An aged puerh is very much different from a cooked pu erh. You should be using 5 grams per 120 ml. brewing vessel with a few rinses of 5 seconds then, steeping time should be no more than 20 seconds with full boiling water. Stomach pains, DID YOU RINSE THE TEA? this could be the problem of why you have an upset stomach. Pu erh ferments rather than oxidizes. fermentation requires living microbes to do the work, but not rinsing the tea you are ingesting these potentially dangerous microbes. My advice to you is put away the cake. get some young sheengs and introduce yourself gradually before rushing to the "good" stuff. READ, READ, READ. When it comes ot tea I cannot stress it enough is to read. Learn everything you can. The first thing you will hear about pu erh is its an aquired taste. Keep tasting and learning Then after a year or so bring out that cake and try it again, you will be blown away.

For future pu erh purchases I recommend this website.
http://www.puerhshop.com/

Get yourself a simple $20 cake and a bunch of samples.

Hope this helped, good luck, and do not give up in the world of pu erh, there is much to learn. :D
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Postby Wesli » Jul 18th, '08, 18:52

http://pu-erh.net/ is a good resource as well.
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Postby Jagori » Jul 19th, '08, 01:48

Re: stomach pains - I also find that drinking sheng on an empty stomach is bad. It's best to drink it after a meal, or at least with one.
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Postby heavydoom » Jul 19th, '08, 09:40

order samples.

also, the thing on the cramps. some say that not everyone can drink pu. in chinese medicine, some foods can contain " fire " and some are " cool " foods. so for instance, in the summer, when it is hot, the chinese make a lot of soups using this hairy squash/gourd, to cool yourself down. i think all chinese guys know what i am talking about. this all has to do with chinese medicine, the ying and the yang, the balancing of good and bad, hot and cool, etc......

pu is the same thing, it belongs to a certain food group that not everyone can stomach. i know the name but i cannot really put this term for pu into english words.

if you get cramps from every session of green pu, then you are not mean to drink this.

i can honestly say that i have drunk green pu on an empty stomach, before i went to bed, and i have had no problems whatsoever.....
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Postby drumhum » Jul 19th, '08, 10:34

Thank you very much for the responses and good advice.

I feel the overall message coming from you guys is to just persevere with my pu pursuits.

I have only been drinking chinese tea for around 6 months but in that time I have become an absolute obsessive tea nut! My family probably think I'm nuts but they tell me its a real cool "new hobby"!

I strongly suspect this is a very good puerh. I guess I just need some confirmation! The leaves are uniform, and healthy looking. They brew to a pale green olive colour and the smell from them is free from anything suspect. The tea is clear and has a fresh taste. It is a complex taste too: there is definitely green, sweet, bitter and tea flavours amongst many others. I can't explain it but my inexperienced mouth says the tea is quality.


Interestingly my biggest success with tea has been to break away from the gongfu cha method. I have tried throwing in some lumps into a standard (english style) china teapot with a pint or so of boiling water. This was inspired by the the way chinese dim sum restaurants serve their puerh. I can get about three brews this way too - its very tea efficient! Obviously this is not the way to get the best possible brew from the tea but taking cups over the course of an hour or so is quite a journey in tea taste!

It has also provided some very drinkable iced tea too (here I just brewed a good load in the above china teapot and stuck it in the fridge!)

My problem is that I just can't make a careful, gong fu style brew and think "wow this is freaking awesome" - like I do with my cooked Puerhs and Oolongs. I'm just impatient and want more after spending £65 ($130) I guess. A more educated pallet is required.

I concluded a few weeks back I should stop quaffing it in pints and keep it to mellow and from what you guys have said I think this was a the right decision. It is my one and only bench-mark for sheng but at least I now I have one. And I've started my puerh cellar.

Now if someone could just identify this tea ...

Kind regards and may your yixing teapots be happy.
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Postby shogun89 » Jul 19th, '08, 10:50

Brewing a light green olive color brew, huh, that says its a very young tea to me. even my 2007's already have a dark amber glow. It sounds and looks like its been aged in a very dry location preventing fermentation. take a look at this link. . .

http://www.puerhshop.com/index.php?main ... cts_id=552

I believe you said yours was 2000, this is a 1998 so its not to far of. see how the cake is falling apart, very loose and the color is dark like earthy tones and the brew is very dark amber, this shows a true aged pu erh.now look at the next link

http://www.puerhshop.com/index.php?main ... cts_id=140

Now this cake is still intact, a very tight compression, and the leaves are not as earthy toned as the '98. Now look at the brew, a light orangy, yellowish color. This shows a young cake.

Now compare your cake to these pictuures and compare your brew to these pictures and decide what it is closest too. From your description it sound young. But this does not mean you cant enjoy it! If you like the way it tastes then drink it!

Hope this helped
Enjoy your tea day!
:D

Oh and by the way my family thinks I'm nuts too. . .
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Postby heavydoom » Jul 19th, '08, 10:53

with the ease of internet, why bother ordering that particular cake from that particular online vendor?
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Postby drumhum » Jul 19th, '08, 11:12

shogun89 wrote:Brewing a light green olive color brew, huh, that says its a very young tea to me. even my 2007's already have a dark amber glow. It sounds and looks like its been aged in a very dry location preventing fermentation. take a look at this link. ..

<snip>

Very good point shogun89

The colour I was describing were the leaves but the brew is very similar - very far from earthy or amber!

I think you're right - I feel the word "young" is the most profound one here!

Can this tea be really 8 years old?

How long would a high quality pu change over 8 years? Could it be this tea will need 20+ years to get good and amber?

Could it be I have an absolute treasure for my retirement age? (!)
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Postby drumhum » Jul 19th, '08, 11:25

heavydoom wrote:with the ease of internet, why bother ordering that particular cake from that particular online vendor?


I bought this tea from Jing (Uk). I have spoken to them on the phone and they are very friendly and efficient. they have also worked hard in the UK to "spread the tea word" and in fact it was one of their media items that got me hooked in the first place. The other teas I have had from them have been exceptional. On top of this they (really do) supply to/advise some of the most highly regarded food and drink folk. They are not some dodgy outfit. This is why I ordered the tea from them.

When starting with tea its great to have a supplier that filters out the rubbish and only sells the good stuff. My experience so far with this company have suggested this is exactly what they do. Quality being their main goal. They are not cheap by a long shot and I've found equally good stuff from china at far cheaper prices - I've also found terrible tea at cheaper prices too!

I have emailed them to find out more about this tea and I shall report back any useful response. I will be most surprised if I learn they don't know what they are selling. Their response (or lack of?) may well change my opinion of them! We shall see...
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Postby shogun89 » Jul 19th, '08, 11:27

As I said before there are a lot of frauds out there and that concerns me because no where on the description or wrapper does it tell you where it is made or by whom, i find that very interesting.

It is possible this cake was stored at about 50% humidity which would allow the cake to not age at all, so yes its possible the cake is 8 years old. A pu erh could change very much over 8 years depending on storage conditions. look at this one. it is only a 2003 but has aged dramatically due to high microbe activity form high humidity.

http://www.puerhshop.com/index.php?main ... cts_id=342

If the cake is stored in 70%-80% it could reach that amber stage in about 5 years. That is why I built the puidor as you can read about on the pu erh page under "my wooden humidor building adventure".
If you have anymore questions don't hesitate to ask, I am always willing to help.
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Postby heavydoom » Jul 19th, '08, 11:37

"It's a generic wrapper used since the 80's for Yi Wu teas. Doesn't say anything about the quality of the tea or the vintage. "


i showed someone the link with the photos of the said cake and this is the response i got.
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Postby hop_goblin » Jul 19th, '08, 11:48

shogun89 wrote:
I believe you said yours was 2000, this is a 1998 so its not to far of. see how the cake is falling apart, very loose and the color is dark like earthy tones and the brew is very dark amber, this shows a true aged pu erh.now look at the next link



Loose leaves and color should never be taken as a "true" sign of age; especially color. Leaves are loose as a result of compression stone mold vs iron pressed and whether they may have been stored in a wrapped tong while aging or not. As for color, looks can be decieving. of course while it ages, there might be a natural tendency for a few leaves to come undone due to the absorbtion of humidity but it not an accurate sign of age. It has all to do with storage enviroment. A beeng stored in Hong Kong will be much darker if it were stored in Guangzhoug as the humidty is different. of coure it will change color as it ages, but your sense of smell and taste are far more important than what it looks like in the cup.
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