Quest for strange pu erh tea cakes.

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

Quest for strange pu erh tea cakes.

Postby heavydoom » Aug 17th, '08, 14:24

i live in toronto where a large chinese community is to be found and hence we have a lot of stores that cater to the chinese community. some of them are chinese supermarkets and chinese herbal/pharmacy store.

i have now found three stores that stock pu erh tea cakes.

you know about one, i found this cooked pu erh tea cake :

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today i found another store, a chinese pharmacy, they sell an assortment of sun dried herbal plants, flowers etc....i also found these two cakes :

a cooked pu, a label on the outside of the bamboo wrapper was dated 2005:

the front :

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the back :

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the inside of the cooked pu with a cnnp yellow mark wrapper :

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there is a whitish colour on some of the leaves. rot? mold? i don't care. it's fun and good for strengthening my immune system.

i haven't had it yet but it smells good.

here is the second cake, a menghai green but it has no date, no little piece of paper imbedded into the leaves. a total mystery. i had some of the tea. it tasted not bad but the smells inside the store had permeated into the pu. still not bad, not bitter at all, but the leaves inside the pot were like a total mush of leaves. i think this is a good tea for visitors to my house who i don't like. i will give them some of this mess of a pu.

the wrapper :

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the wrapper has no printing whatsoever on the back. the tea also did not have that little piece of paper inside the tea cake. this could be a total fake of a menghai tea.

here is the tea cake :

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it is now my quest to hunt down more of these mystery pu erh tea cakes. i will scour all chinese super markets and chinese pharmacy/herbal stores. more pics shall follow.

i actually found a second store, yes, another chinese healthfood/medicine store. they had some real good stuff there. but, all the pu cakes were ziplocked. all were priced $18.99. they had some bamboo sticks filled with pu. they had a plaque of pu on the wall. they had some bricks. i did not bother buying any at all. the place was dirty, things felt grimy, everything was covered in dust. :shock: they had some tuo chas in threes but again, the whole thing was wrapped in plastic.

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Postby puerhking » Aug 17th, '08, 14:32

There is a large asian food market in Kansas City where I started my tea quest and was introduced to puerh. About two years ago they had some beengs from CNNP that were wrapped in plastic like that second one of yours. It was the lowest quality leaves I had ever come across. It tasted like compost and finally I threw it away...I hope you fair better. :)

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Postby hop_goblin » Aug 17th, '08, 14:35

Cool findings. I wish we had local stores like that! I agree, it is strange that the MengHai doesn't have a neifei embedded in it. I have yet to see an orange wrapper for a sheng product. Very interesting.

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Postby brandon » Aug 17th, '08, 14:36

I've noticed two small Chinese grocers -- maybe they deserve a visit...

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Postby heavydoom » Aug 17th, '08, 14:42

it's fun and thrilling to see if you find any strange and bizarre bengs inside chinese supermarkets. go for it.

that menghai one, it's not bad actually but the tea has been infected with the store's various smells of herbs and whatnot. the menghai wrapper is like parchment paper. not plastic nor them organic fibrous wrapper we all know.

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Postby heavydoom » Aug 17th, '08, 14:43

puerhking wrote:There is a large asian food market in Kansas City where I started my tea quest and was introduced to puerh. About two years ago they had some beengs from CNNP that were wrapped in plastic like that second one of yours. It was the lowest quality leaves I had ever come across. It tasted like compost and finally I threw it away...I hope you fair better. :)


mine did not taste like compost. shall i keep it or toss it?

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Postby Dizzwave » Aug 17th, '08, 15:14

lol.. yeah, keep it for the guests you don't like.
That's pretty cool that you have all those stores to seek out!
the white stuff might be the harmless "white frost" that people talk about.. You can just brush it off (with a toothbrush or something?) and not worry about it, from what I hear.

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Postby edkrueger » Aug 17th, '08, 15:18

According to a lab [not medical] study all of the mold in pu-erh is killed when water above 80c is put on it. Found in the Art of Tea publication.

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Postby heavydoom » Aug 17th, '08, 15:48

it's not dust but seems like a whitish paint. it is found on a small part of the cake though. i think it's okay. the cake came from hong kong, so my guess it's was stored in very humid conditions somewhere.

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Postby Bert » Aug 17th, '08, 16:46

edkrueger wrote:According to a lab [not medical] study all of the mold in pu-erh is killed when water above 80c is put on it. Found in the Art of Tea publication.


The problem is not the mold itself but the substances formed by it which are mostly quite stable even in boiling water.

I wrote a rather dry article about mycotoxins in shu pu in the Puerh Tea LJ a while ago:

http://community.livejournal.com/puerh_tea/207329.html#cutid1

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Postby heavydoom » Aug 17th, '08, 16:56

Bert wrote:
edkrueger wrote:According to a lab [not medical] study all of the mold in pu-erh is killed when water above 80c is put on it. Found in the Art of Tea publication.


The problem is not the mold itself but the substances formed by it which are mostly quite stable even in boiling water.

I wrote a rather dry article about mycotoxins in shu pu in the Puerh Tea LJ a while ago:

http://community.livejournal.com/puerh_tea/207329.html#cutid1


i will read that later. i just had some of the pu cake. pretty good.

i tossed out that menghai one. truly vile.

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Postby zellie » Aug 20th, '08, 22:27

I really have had good luck with pu from Chinese grocers. If there's anything I've learned, though, it's never to purchase pu-erh in clear plastic wrappers. I attempted this once with a brick from Rishi, despite my misgivings, because the woman assured me that it had been aged for twenty-five years, and it seemed quite inexpensive if that was indeed the case. Of course, it tastes like watery sticks :? .

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Postby Salsero » Aug 20th, '08, 23:29

Bert wrote: I wrote a rather dry article about mycotoxins in shu pu in the Puerh Tea LJ a while ago
Oh, Bert, I remembered reading your article, I just didn't remember who wrote it. It's always wonderful to see some hard science on any tea topics.

Delighted to see you hanging out here.

Doom,
Thanks so much for taking the time to share all of this with us. For those of us who do not have such exciting places to explore, it is wonderful to hear your story and see the pix.

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Re: quest for strange pu erh tea cakes.

Postby chamekke » Aug 21st, '08, 00:01

heavydoom wrote:i live in toronto where a large chinese community is to be found and hence we have a lot of stores that cater to the chinese community. some of them are chinese supermarkets and chinese herbal/pharmacy store.


Which of Toronto's Chinatowns have you found the pu in? Are you looking in the Dundas/Spadina one, or East Chinatown at Broadview and Gerrard? I do make it to Toronto occasionally, so if you have any tips for good places to buy tea (pu or otherwise), I would love to hear!

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Postby ABx » Aug 21st, '08, 03:56

I actually wouldn't throw anything out right away. Some things can improve considerably with some airing out. Some might not, but it's always worth a try. I've had some that tasted awful at first but tasted great after some airing.

I also wouldn't dismiss something just because it's in plastic. A lot of the stuff I get, even from good sources, is wrapped in plastic. This shouldn't adversely affect it AFAIK (even though it won't age while it's in plastic), and the up-side is that it will protect it from the surrounding environment. It will prevent it from getting any more dusty or musty than it may already be.

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