Pu erh blocks...

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

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Jan 28th 06 7:35 pm
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Pu erh blocks...

by AlTeavious » Jan 28th 06 7:35 pm

...is it normal to have to use a hammer and chisel to reak a bit off?

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Jan 29th 06 7:26 pm
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by illium » Jan 29th 06 7:26 pm

no.

It's normal to use a Pu Er knife and gently break the leaves away from the cake.

A Pu Er knife is pretty much like a thick blunt letter opener. At home I usually just use a butter knife. The best way to do it is to try to slip the knife in from the side between the layers of leaves, or from the inside of the back, and then twist the knife slightly to break a small peice away. Use as little force as possible, and do your best not to damage the tea leaves while breaking it away. Also, just break off quarter or dimed size pieces of compressed tea, rather than trying to break it down into really small bits.

here is a pictorial guide on another tea vendor's site on how to break apart a pu er cake:
http://www.teaspring.com/teafaq.asp?id=9

and another single frame picture:
http://www.teahub.com/pictures/puerhpeel.jpg

Another method is the steam method.. In which you put the whole thing on a steamer rack, steam the cake until it loosens up some, and then pull it apart once the leaves are malleable again. Then let it dry, and store it like loose leaf tea. That requires a certain amount of time and labour that chipping it away doesn't.



Hope that helps,
Troy
Troy Howard aka Da Tong (大筒), Fine Chinese Tea Sales
Happy Panda Tea Co. 快乐熊猫茶司 (KuaiLe XiongMao ChaSi)
Portland, Oregon
illium37@yahoo.com (email me for more info!)

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Jan 31st 06 3:59 am
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by AlTeavious » Jan 31st 06 3:59 am

That does help actually, I worked out that attacking it from the side with a knife produced better results, I might look into the pu erh knife though or try the steaming method because the knife I was using slipped and gave me a nasty cut :-( The block I am using is 4 years old, it tastes more mellow than loose pu erh but I'm curious as to how much more mellow it becomes? Is there a tapering off point, does mellowness increase linearly or exponentially :-) Hmmm, is there much difference between one 4 year block and another.... I think it might take a bit of time to answer all of that.

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Feb 7th 06 7:29 pm
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by illium » Feb 7th 06 7:29 pm

well, the difference between this year's pu er and one 4 years old is dramatic. the difference between a 4 year old block and a 8 year old block is less dramatic, but still quite noticeable.

so, the older it gets, the more mellowed it gets, but it definately tapers.. i would say beyond about 8-10 years, it requires a pretty experienced palette to tell the difference.
Troy Howard aka Da Tong (大筒), Fine Chinese Tea Sales
Happy Panda Tea Co. 快乐熊猫茶司 (KuaiLe XiongMao ChaSi)
Portland, Oregon
illium37@yahoo.com (email me for more info!)

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Feb 10th 06 1:33 am
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by AlTeavious » Feb 10th 06 1:33 am

I'll have to give an 8 year one a go at some point, I've heard the green pu erhs ate more invigorating so i should probably try one of those...the normal pu erh is great in the evening but first thing in the morning mellow isn' always the best option!

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Mar 10th 06 4:51 pm
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by jogrebe » Mar 10th 06 4:51 pm

Just pick up a traditional "sword style" letter opener and it will work fine. I broke up my first puerh cake with one on Tuesday and I didn't have any problems and I think I did a fairly good job at it as I had less than a teaspoon's worth of dust when I was finished breaking up the 100 gram cake.
John Grebe

"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."
~C. S. Lewis