First time


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

Postby taitea » Aug 15th, '08, 11:15

That document looks great. I'll try to read it over the weekend and give some feedback.
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Postby taitea » Aug 15th, '08, 18:41

That was great. I'm definitely more intrigued (instead of mystified) now! Including some direct recommendations is a huge help. I'll definitely order some samples soon. I guess the only thing you were missing was some pictures, but that's pretty obvious.
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Postby ABx » Aug 15th, '08, 20:09

Yup :) Hopefully shortly after it's done being over 100 degrees here :P
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Postby taitea » Aug 26th, '08, 09:10

So in the most basic analysis:

Shu = fermented
Sheng = unfermented

correct?

Does Shu age to become Sheng, or do they remain completely different beasts their entire life?

Also, I don't understand why or how shus are fermented in the first place. Doesn't "fermentation" imply the conversion of certain chemicals into alcohol? If the shus ferment by being left out in the air, why don't all other teas?
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Postby shogun89 » Aug 26th, '08, 09:21

taitea wrote:So in the most basic analysis:

Shu = fermented
Sheng = unfermented

correct?

Does Shu age to become Sheng, or do they remain completely different beasts their entire life?

Also, I don't understand why or how shus are fermented in the first place. Doesn't "fermentation" imply the conversion of certain chemicals into alcohol? If the shus ferment by being left out in the air, why don't all other teas?


The first part is correct.
Shu will not age to become sheng, they ill always be different beasts. A shu is pressed into a cake just as the sheng but then are stored in very humid conditions, like 90% humidity and often get a mist of water sprayed on top also in very high temperatures. Moisture and heat make microbes thrive (like a compost pile) fermentation occurs because of the microbes but really fast, Thats the point to make a puerh as fast as possible for the new booming popularity. So other teas dont ferment because they dont have the microbes in them and the tea is kept at a very low (about 20 %) humidity.

Hope that helps, there may be some off info in there but it was just meant to give you an idea.
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Postby Salsero » Aug 26th, '08, 10:06

Check out Mike Petro's website, Pu-erh, A Westerner's Quest if you have a chance. He gives quite a bit of introductory information about Puerh. Unfortunately, to add to the confusion, he calls shu/cooked/ripe by the name black, which is not a common name for shu in English and he uses the term oxidation when the correct word is fermentation.

SHU
Loose tea leaves are wetted, piled up, sometimes under blankets to ferment rapidly before the leaves are pressed into cakes. This fermentation (action of microbes) darkens the leaves and to some extent mimics the taste of old sheng. The process takes several days, even up to a month. Once the fermented leaves are pressed into cakes and dried, they are more or less ready to drink. Letting shu cakes sit for a year or two is sometimes advised to mellow them out.

SHENG
Raw puerh leaves are pressed into cakes while still green and allowed to dry out. Fermentation occurs in raw puerh also, but only very slowly over the years in the dried and pressed cakes. You can drink sheng when it is very young (most of us here drink quite a lot of the young stuff), but it can be rough sometimes and its real destiny is to be drunk aged ... ten to twenty years down the road.

FERMENTATION is the result of microbial action, like yeast converting grape sugars into alcohol or bacteria converting milk into yogurt. Fermentation is a rather slow process, generally occurring over days.

OXIDATION is the process that makes black and oolong tea. It is caused by changes in the green leaves brought about by plant juices (sap) coming into contact with oxygen. It is not caused by microbes. Oxidation is what happens to a slice of apple when you leave it exposed to air. Oxidation occurs within hours, not days.

See wikiCHA for more on oxidation vs fermentation.
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Postby taitea » Aug 26th, '08, 10:22

Thanks! That clears things up a bit more.

What I'm looking to understand now is:

What are the taste differences between young shu / young sheng / aged shu / aged sheng?

It seems to me like earthy and bitter are the major terms when discussing the flavor of puerhs, does aging just mellow this out?
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Postby Salsero » Aug 26th, '08, 10:50

OK, the following are vast overgeneralizations, so take them with a grain of salt. There is a lot of variation and overlap and nothing represents all these tastes. For instance, some shu are actually light and subtle while others are thick and opaque. Young sheng is very different in character from either of the other two, more like a green tea IMHO. Also, age of shu doesn't seem to much matter to me. The difference is more one of quality than basic profile.

Young sheng: often astringent and easily over brewed, mushroomy, smokey, grains, pear or loquat, wood, camphor, floral

Aged sheng: no astringency, dark fruits like very ripe cherries or plums, sweet, warming, forest after a rain

Shu: earthy, coffee, leaf mold, vanilla, roasted grain, malt, cocoa, sometimes some "off" flavors in early infusions like fishy, rubber, pond
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Postby heavydoom » Aug 26th, '08, 18:50

i also think that some people are born with a good sense of taste and some aren't.
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STICKY!!

Postby Bubba_tea » Aug 26th, '08, 19:03

Oy! There are so many 'how do I brew' questions - I vote that ABx's article there be FAQ'd / Stickey'd!!!

Actually, a FAQ would be great here with gong fu brewing instructions for hong / pu'er / oolong / etc as a sticky or FAQ for us novices... :D


ABx wrote:I wrote a paper for my blog as an intro to puerh that you might like:
http://www.dyingsun.net/Tea/puerh-intro.doc
I wrote this to cover as many of the questions that I see around from those new to puerh as possible, but please do let me know if there's anything you want to know so I can add it. The content is done otherwise (including being edited, though I might give it another once-over for wording), I just need to take some pics and make it look nice before I post it to my blog. So it doesn't look pretty yet, but the info is there :)

Any and all feedback is welcome :)
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Re: STICKY!!

Postby brandon » Aug 26th, '08, 19:08

Bubba_tea wrote:Oy! There are so many 'how do I brew' questions - I vote that ABx's article there be FAQ'd / Stickey'd!!!

Actually, a FAQ would be great here with gong fu brewing instructions for hong / pu'er / oolong / etc as a sticky or FAQ for us novices... :D


I have also been wishing for a thread dedicated to ABx's article.
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Postby Salsero » Aug 26th, '08, 21:24

Some sort of resource thread devoted to such issues for all tea types would be good ... hey, isn't that wikiCHA?! :shock:
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Postby Bubba_tea » Aug 26th, '08, 23:48

Not bad - but short on info - ie, no hong cha brewing info etc. Just a little sticky in each category of tea - or a general FAQ with general brewing table (western style and gong fu) for each type would be great. As a noobie using a gaiwan, I still figured out that the recommended 3 minutes with 212' water for a pu in 5oz would be disgusting...
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