Help. New to Tea


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

Postby Pentox » Aug 12th, '08, 18:12

It sounds like you have a Puerh cake from 2005. I'm not that well versed in the proper brewing of puerh so you should probably ask those guys.
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Postby Dizzwave » Aug 12th, '08, 18:36

Yep, it's definitely pu-erh, probably from the Menghai factory (probably the biggest most famous one). Are the leaves black or green? There are two kinds of pu-erh, cooked/fermented (shu) and raw/uncooked (sheng).
You can brew them similarly though. I recommend using short steeps.
Break off a chunk (~5g), put it in a small teapot, do a couple of short "rinse" infusions (~15 sec. each), and then drink the next infusion. And the next one..... and the next one..... gradually increasing your steeping time. A good pu will last at least a dozen infusions. It takes some experimentation, and tastes a little different every time. Let us know what you think in the pu-erh forum!
-dave
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Postby Salsero » Aug 12th, '08, 18:39

Yes, it is a puerh. Don't you love those helpful Chinglish texts! It sounds like it is a cooked (=fermented, =shu) as opposed to uncooked (=raw, =sheng) puerh. Despite the poor English, Menghai Dayi is one of (or maybe the?) biggest puerh tea company, and has a good reputation. I feel awfully sure that I have read a review or something of the V99 cake, but I can't find it via google search. Is it pretty black in color?

You can find likely more information than you ever wanted to know about puerh at http://www.pu-erh.net/

As Pentox points out, there is an entire subforum of TeaChat dedicated to Puerh. Taste some and post a mini review and photos in the Puerh Forum. We love to look at, hear about, and talk about Pu.
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Postby Salsero » Aug 13th, '08, 09:59

martlynn wrote: Dizzwave states that I should put 5g in the tea pot and then rinse. Does that mean I need to get a scale? I am not sure about the rinse or what temperature the water should be. The cake is a black color.
The black color suggests that it is in fact the cooked or shu variety of puerh. Tea fanatics like Dizzwave sometimes use gram scales, but for your puerh experimentation it would seem a little silly to buy a special device. I don't know what kind of brewing vessel you are going to use, but Dizzwave is likely talking about gong fu brewing style that uses little water, lots of tea, and short brew times. If you are brewing using English style equipment, you may want to simply guesstimate about a teaspoon per 6 oz cup of tea. Pour boiling or near boiling water onto your tea for the rinse, and then pour it off almost immediately. I would think one rinse plenty. Then make tea. With this brewing style, your first infusion might be 30 sec to 1 minute. If it is too strong or weak, adjust your time. As Dizz says, multiple infusions (12 is pretty optimistic INHO) are the norm with this kind of tea. Increase your brew time a bit each infusion. For instance, if 30 seconds works out well for your initial round, you might try 45 seconds for the next round, etc. Because of all the infusions, you probably don't want to start off with a big pot. Maybe just a cup and strainer. Otherwise you could wind up with quarts of tea to drink.
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Postby Dizzwave » Aug 13th, '08, 11:32

Hehe, yes, Sal is right, no need to go crazy trying to do it "exactly right" your first time (especially since there is no "exactly right" way)..
btw, Sal, I don't have a scale.... YET! It should be arriving via USPS any day now! :lol:
Oh, and a 5g chunk of pu is something like, oh, maybe a half of a cubic inch or so? Depending on how tightly packed the leaves are. (A Menghai cake like that is probably pretty dense, so I wouldn't use more than a cubic inch for sure.)
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Postby ABx » Aug 13th, '08, 13:51

Cooked puerh is pretty forgiving stuff when it comes to brewing. However, I generally try to keep the steep times short. I'd break off a reasonable chunk (it doesn't really matter too much - the more you use the quicker it will steep and the more infusions you'll get), maybe roughly an inch in diameter and up to a half inch thick for 6-8oz (I often use an infuser cup), tease it apart as much as possible, use boiling water and give it a rinse first, then steep for about 30 seconds. The first time will take a little longer while the leaves hydrate and then it should go pretty quickly. Using that amount the third steep or so is often ready for me just by pouring the water through the infuser basket. The infusion should be very dark, but still just barely translucent; in an 6-8oz cup this would mean that you could still see the sides of the cup for about a quarter inch down into the infusion. Don't worry too much, though, cooked puerh will almost never taste bitter if overbrewed; what I describe is just the best result, IMO.

If it has any noticeably unpleasant flavors then just try leaving the cake out for a while. A few days could take care of some things, while others may take up to a few weeks. You could also break off a few chunks, break them up, and keep them in a jar covered with a paper towel (just to protect from dust and dirt) or a paper bag.

You'll generally want to keep the cake away from any odors, because it will readily absorb them. A cupboard is usually okay, as long as it doesn't contain something like your herbs and spices.
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