Pu Selection Criterias

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

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Pu Selection Criterias

by oldmanteapot » Nov 11th 09 10:15 am

Here's something for thought, hopefully could generate some traffic here.

What is your criteria / preference of selection when you buy Pu?

Do bear in mind that there are no fixed rules on how you should buy your Pu, but just for discussion's sake. Since there have been quiet a few posts being raised pertaining to buying Pu.

Cheers! :mrgreen:

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by betta » Nov 11th 09 10:37 am

It's relative for everyone. I would look for pu with nice aroma (again subjective) also in the throat, not excessive bitterness or sourness, very little smokyness, thick, long sweet aftertaste and last long infusions. It should leave me nice feelings, preferably warm feeling in the body for a long time.

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by TomVerlain » Nov 11th 09 12:13 pm

Since the internet is the way I buy a fair amount of tea; hope, dreams and cash are the criteria.

Actually, I go by reviews, experience with previous, similar tea, price, gut feel. None of which makes up for taste, aroma, being there.

And even with being there, trying to predict how a tea will age is a bit more jedi than my present skills allow.

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by TomVerlain » Nov 11th 09 12:41 pm

Since the internet is the way I buy a fair amount of tea; hope, dreams and cash are the criteria.

Actually, I go by reviews, experience with previous, similar tea, price, gut feel. None of which makes up for taste, aroma, being there.

And even with being there, trying to predict how a tea will age is a bit more jedi than my present skills allow.

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by tony shlongini » Nov 11th 09 2:19 pm

I think a lot depends on where you currently are in your pu'er "career", and many suggestions that do not take this into account are worthless. I've seen people recommend that a newbie blow their budget on a small sample of a great old sheng. Great, but what do you drink for the next 364 days?

As your knowledge of and familiarity with pu'er expands, so will your needs. At some point the most important thing will be to increase the breadth of your collection. Having six tongs of 8582 and nothing else will ensure a lot of good sessions, but you won't learn much about the bewildering array of flavors and styles that exist. At another point you may need to focus on the depth of your collection. Having forty different cakes, of which you only enjoy two or three, won't cut it, and you may find a need to stock up on the items you enjoy the most.

Eventually everyone will find their own balance of new and old, wide selection and deep stock. Getting there is half the fun.

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by Maitre_Tea » Nov 11th 09 3:12 pm

"What is your criteria / preference of selection when you buy Pu?"

I think first one must ask for what purpose are you buying pu-erh, for immediate consumption or for aging. If one is purchasing for immediate consumption than naturally, personal taste/preference is the key here. Reviews and recommendations aren't necessarily helpful in guiding me towards favorites, but only helpful in driving me away from abysmal tea. Opinions on a tea differs on how people think of certain flavor profiles - some people like the youthful harshness/bitterness, while others prefer something a little more tame and mellow.

As for aging, well, that's anyone's game because so much is up in the air. I don't think there's any "right" answer, because of three factors (there could be more):

1. "Modern" pu-erh is vastly different from pu-erh made back than, in both material and processing technique. Back than, there were no (in my understanding) single-estate cakes. So no one knows if these single-estate characteristics will stand the test of time. Also, people who tried Hong Yin in its young sheng form found it to be the nastiest thing ever and chucked in the corner ... flash forward 50 years, and it has legendary status.
2. Pu-erh is being bought and aged in areas where it's never been bought/aged before. So there's no prior experience of seeing if pu-erh aged in Europe or America will be as good as those aged in their natural environment. Sure, we can create similar parameters through the use of pumidors and such, but will it ever be the same? Perhaps.
3. How pu-erh ages is a debatable topic. It's often attributed to various microbes/fungus on your pu-erh, but I read somewhere (I think the pu-erh LJ?) that they can only confirm the presence of these things, and it's difficult to tell which one is doing what, or if some of them are just benign.

So what type of pu-erh do I think will age well? I think that a bad tea will age into ... bad tea. So I'm not of the school where if it tastes bad, it must age well. I think complicated things age well, because their complexions might create better teas when aged. Simple things don't have much to change into, IMO. I think looking out for tweaked teas is the other thing.

Just my two cents. Not sure if I actually answered the question though...too early

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by chrl42 » Nov 11th 09 3:58 pm

Here's what I do,

I go to seller who knows better than me, and show him little money I got, then it's sampling show-time :mrgreen:

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by TIM » Nov 11th 09 4:55 pm

What is your criteria / preference of selection when you buy Pu?

For me there are 2 main category when buying Pu:
1. Single Estate - I am still learning the different characters and aging process in all main Yunnan puerh tea mountains. Not to mention the many varietials growing in each area. The more I learn, the better I could identify what's pure of what's mixed.

2. Recipes - After I learn from 1. I then can better understand and identify a 50s red label, which have more Yiwu then BL. Moving on to taste the rest of the CNNP cake and figure what's good or not. I don't trust new company, if they have no track record.

Pay more or pay premium for 1 or 2 trustable cake. Learn from it and set a bench mark. It will save you a lot more money then investing in lesser quality stuff. If you are serious, of course.

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by Maitre_Tea » Nov 11th 09 5:37 pm

TIM wrote: I don't trust new company, if they have no track record
How many years does a company have to be in existence to have a track record, in your opinion? Or if a track record is determined by quality of production, what companies do you think have a good track record?

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by TIM » Nov 11th 09 5:58 pm

Maitre_Tea wrote:
TIM wrote: I don't trust new company, if they have no track record
How many years does a company have to be in existence to have a track record, in your opinion? Or if a track record is determined by quality of production, what companies do you think have a good track record?
The tea master whom oversee the company production is the person I look into as track record. So, its determine by experience and quality of his products.

LONGYUAN HAO and FENG QING TEA FACTORY are some among others.

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by Maitre_Tea » Nov 11th 09 8:24 pm

To elaborate more on my criteria for selection, it's mostly influenced by the circumstances I face: I live in a very dry environment, and because I am leaving the country (in the near future) for 2-3 years, I can't use a pumidor because there is nobody to inspect the cakes while I am gone.

Thus, any new cakes I buy will not age (noticeably) during these 2-3 years, so I am being very careful with any new cakes (1-4 years) I buy. So I have a theory on how to best utilize my dry environment: using it to age wet stored cakes, and use the "dry storage" to smooth out the shicang. Also, I also look to buy juvenile or adolescent pu-erh; stuff that has a "head-start" on the aging process.

Any thoughts or critiques of my approach, it's still just a theory I have thought out in my head

Nov 11th 09 8:45 pm

Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by aKnightWhoSaysNi » Nov 11th 09 8:45 pm

Ah, as much disdain I have for many aspects of living in Alabama I still consider myself lucky to live in one of the few parts of America that has a climate classification of "humid subtropical." I actually live in South Alabama; almost in Florida, as a result our weather is heavily influenced by the gulf. So I buy whatever pu tickles my fancy, drink it every now and then, and put it into storage and let the naturally high Rh% (I regularly measure it) in our den work it's magic. I have already noticed a change in the cakes that I have stored for +1 year. I go through pu-erh very slowly (usually only drinking it on Sundays) as sencha is my everyday drink of choice.

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by heavydoom » Nov 12th 09 1:12 am

i like unusual pu erh teas from smaller lesser known companies.

it's like buying a pair of rogan jeans instead of getting a pair of gap jeans.

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Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by TIM » Nov 12th 09 2:03 am

heavydoom wrote:i like unusual pu erh teas from smaller lesser known companies.

it's like buying a pair of rogan jeans instead of getting a pair of gap jeans.
Nice heavydoom, very fashion forward: http://www.rby45rpm.com/

Nov 12th 09 2:34 am

Re: Pu Selection Criterias

by aKnightWhoSaysNi » Nov 12th 09 2:34 am

TIM wrote:
heavydoom wrote:i like unusual pu erh teas from smaller lesser known companies.

it's like buying a pair of rogan jeans instead of getting a pair of gap jeans.
Nice heavydoom, very fashion forward: http://www.rby45rpm.com/
$418.00 for a flannel shirt? :shock: Why would anyone pay that much money to dress like Al Borland?