Leaf and grade ?


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

Leaf and grade ?

Postby Goose » Nov 28th, '08, 20:00

I have read mentions of leaf grade in descriptions of Puer.
Is this self imposed grading by the factories? Is there an industry standard.

How does it work 1= best? ect.

Thanks for your insight.
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Postby hop_goblin » Nov 28th, '08, 20:23

It has been my understanding that leaf grade refers to the actual size of the leaf. The bigger the leaf, the higher the grade in terms of number. I know this seems counter intuative but this is the established methoddevised by the CNNP. Most contemporary factories rarely use this method and is really only currently employed by the former stated owned factories for recipe designation. Currently, there are 10 grades, 1-10. Typically, the lower the number the better quality of pu-erh though the lower the grade. It is important note however that number does not always transulate into a better quality pu. For instance, 8582 which is made of 7-9 leaves, and many pu-erh collectors consider this a 'must have' in their collection.
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Postby Salsero » Nov 28th, '08, 22:51

One more devilish twist they throw in our path to deter us from the dedicated pursuit of pu!
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Postby PolyhymnianMuse » Nov 28th, '08, 22:55

So is there any rhyme or reason to the leaf grade in terms of taste? If they are graded by size, are there certain flavors or qualities associated with different grades(sizes) of leaf?

This is very interesting...
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Postby Goose » Nov 29th, '08, 01:23

Thanks for the detailed reply Bill. Now where are my veneer calipers?
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Postby danluie » Nov 29th, '08, 05:58

" Typically, the lower the number the better quality of pu-erh though the lower the grade. "

Many people think that small leaves is better grade than big leaves.

But I have different point of view.
pu-erh tea leaves have 10 grades: grade 1 is the youngest leaves, grade 10 is the biggest leaves. Different grades just represent the size of leaves, but not the quality of leaves. Usually, factories have their own formulas to make pu-erh tea. Tea makers in factories mixed different grades of leaves with different parentage to get the favor they want. Leaves of grade 1 to grade 4 always taste flowery. grade 5 to grade 10 taste more earthy or sometimes has camphor's favor.
Different grades of leaves have different tastes when brewing. And there is no comparison of grade between small leaves and big leaves. It is just personal taste.

Sorry, my English writing is not very good. This is just my opinion.
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Postby danluie » Nov 29th, '08, 06:36

There are some pu-erh leaves from bush trees(small trees).
And some from wild trees/ theaceae(big trees).

Leaves from different plantations are taste different.

Pu-erh tea leaves originally picked from wild trees. But after 50's, Chairman Mao, encouraged farmers to plant bush trees which growing fast, more leaves, and short(easy picking), but the pu-erh tea taste different with before. In 60's and after, most leaves of CHI TSE BEENG CHA are picked from bush tree.
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Postby Salsero » Nov 29th, '08, 07:02

danluie wrote: Sorry, my English writing is not very good. This is just my opinion. ... But after 50's, Chairman Mao, encouraged farmers to plant bush trees which growing fast
Your English is fine and your opinion is worth knowing. Thanks for sharing the information about Mao and the bush tea.
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Postby brandon » Nov 29th, '08, 09:04

In 1999, Taiwanese puerh enthusiasts started commissioning beengs that suddenly created a buzz for "Old Arbor" or "Ancient Tea Tree" leaves in recipes. Even though the authenticity of some of the old arbor beengs may be disputed, there is definitely a demand for them as well as plantation based recipes. From what I read the economic incentives of easier and larger harvests drove the preference for semi-wild or plantation crops before recent years.
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Postby Trioxin » Nov 29th, '08, 16:49

So if I'm reading this all correctly, the number doesn't actually indicate the size of leave used? Say they mix it up a bit and use a blend of grade 1 and grade 3 leaves. Would they then grade the cake as 2? Thanks.
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Postby danluie » Nov 30th, '08, 00:10

A tea cake from menghai factory always has a mark number. When we buy an original basket of tea ( 12 packages or 84 cakes), a big paper ticket comes with and it shows the information of the factory, weight, and the mark number, like 7542, 7532, 7582,7572,7433 , etc.

People would ask what are these mark numbers telling us about? And what is relationship with tea grades?

The fist two digits tells the year the factory start using that formula
The third digit tells the grade of leaves mainly used.
The last digit tells which factory made the tea cake.

For example: 7542
75: The formula of 1975
4: the cake use different grades of leaves, but mainly use the 4 grade.
2: is the mark of menghai factory.
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Postby PolyhymnianMuse » Nov 30th, '08, 00:26

danluie wrote:A tea cake from menghai factory always has a mark number. When we buy an original basket of tea ( 12 packages or 84 cakes), a big paper ticket comes with and it shows the information of the factory, weight, and the mark number, like 7542, 7532, 7582,7572,7433 , etc.

People would ask what are these mark numbers telling us about? And what is relationship with tea grades?

The fist two digits tells the year the factory start using that formula
The third digit tells the grade of leaves mainly used.
The last digit tells which factory made the tea cake.

For example: 7542
75: The formula of 1975
4: the cake use different grades of leaves, but mainly use the 4 grade.
2: is the mark of menghai factory.


So the grade of leaf that makes up the highest % of the formula is the number that makes it? So does this mean in theory that they could use 51% of a higher grade leaf and than 49% of a much lower grade and it still would recieve the higher number grade?
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