Our Office Tea Adventures

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

Apr 13th 17 11:27 pm
Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 18th 17 1:58 pm

Our Office Tea Adventures

by oogamooga » Apr 13th 17 11:27 pm

My coworkers and I have started to drink pu erh and are hoping to get some suggestions and advice. Our group consists of a HK Chinese, ABC, and a white guy working in Washington, DC. This whole tea adventure began when the HK guy showed up to work with a cake of pu erh that his dad had shipped over from HK. Heng immediately threw away the wrapper, crushed the tea into rice-size pieces, tossed it in a ziplock bag, and brewed some every morning grandpa style. He brewed it in a grimy French press that his officemate uses to make fancy flavored coffee (Dunkin Donuts hazelnut).

Remarkably, the tea that Heng brewed was sufficient to get his officemate, Ben, interested in trying more pu erh. So Heng dug up an iron brick of something else, threw away the wrapper without reading it, and scraped off some tea powder and fine flakes (fannings?) which they began drinking, brewed in the hazelnut coffee French press.

I walked in one day when they were trying to saw off more tea powder with a pair of scissors. Until then, my only experience with pu erh was from a friend who had developed a pu erh habit while living in China. That friend had described pu erh to me as “an acquired taste” which “tastes like fermented dog poop.” Based on that recommendation, I had absolutely no interest in tasting the tea, but was keen on taking up the challenge of prying tea off the iron brick.

After watching a few youtube videos and doing a bit of reading here on teachat, I reported back to the boys that 1) the internet said we should pry medium chunks of tea off rather than little bits, and 2) we should consider getting a gaiwan or yixing teapot.

What we should have done was walk away at this point. Instead we picked the red pill.

One month later, we are now working our way through a large bag of samples from YS. I also have been reading the archives of this forum, went home to SoCal, drank tea with Taylor at Mad Monk and Imen at Tea Habitat, and hauled back loads of teaware for the office. Here’s what our office pu group has drunk so far:

1) Heng’s Mystery Pu -- Brewed in what they boys are now calling “French style.” They said it was very bitter with insane amounts of camphor and tobacco. Ben claims it made him lightheaded and woozy and is reluctant to try it again.

2) 2016 YS ‘Man Lin’ Ancient Arbor – Flash steeps in a cheap yixing. I really liked the raisin flavors in this one, but the boys got restless after a few steeps and wanted something with more oomph. I got this sample because several folks here mentioned liking it. Is this a good example of a tea that will age well?

3) 2002 Yiwu ‘Ancient Spirit’ – This was the big favorite. Ben loved the first steep and Heng enjoyed the bitterness that we got in the second and third steeps. I’m not a camphor fan, but it was a tolerable level for me.

YS describes this tea as “Banna wetter stored tea.” What does this mean? Google has not been helpful. Is Banna a village? Type of storage? Tea processing style? And why does this tea taste like camphor? Is it the processing, age, or storage?

4) 2006 Menghai 7672 shou – Total flop. Nobody cared for it and we all wanted to go back to the more astringent complexity of sheng. It’s possible we were brewing it wrong, and we are open to trying to more shou, but I think sheng will hold our interest more at this time. Does sheng eventually taste like shou and if so, after how long?

We have a few more samples to try but most are shou, so it’s time to start looking for more sheng. Rather than select at random again, could more experienced pu drinkers provide us with some guidance as to how to figure out what samples to get next? Do companies generally all have similar style teas meaning we should try a variety of producers? Should we make an effort to try teas from different areas and pick producers at random? Are there teas that are generally considered representative of an area/style?

Any suggestions as to specific teas would be most welcome. Thanks so much for reading!

Apr 14th 17 1:53 am
Posts: 498
Joined: Feb 17th 13 5:34 pm

Re: Our Office Tea Adventures

by mr mopu » Apr 14th 17 1:53 am

oogamooga wrote: My coworkers and I have started to drink pu erh and are hoping to get some suggestions and advice. Our group consists of a HK Chinese, ABC, and a white guy working in Washington, DC. This whole tea adventure began when the HK guy showed up to work with a cake of pu erh that his dad had shipped over from HK. Heng immediately threw away the wrapper, crushed the tea into rice-size pieces, tossed it in a ziplock bag, and brewed some every morning grandpa style. He brewed it in a grimy French press that his officemate uses to make fancy flavored coffee (Dunkin Donuts hazelnut).

Remarkably, the tea that Heng brewed was sufficient to get his officemate, Ben, interested in trying more pu erh. So Heng dug up an iron brick of something else, threw away the wrapper without reading it, and scraped off some tea powder and fine flakes (fannings?) which they began drinking, brewed in the hazelnut coffee French press.

I walked in one day when they were trying to saw off more tea powder with a pair of scissors. Until then, my only experience with pu erh was from a friend who had developed a pu erh habit while living in China. That friend had described pu erh to me as “an acquired taste” which “tastes like fermented dog poop.” Based on that recommendation, I had absolutely no interest in tasting the tea, but was keen on taking up the challenge of prying tea off the iron brick.

After watching a few youtube videos and doing a bit of reading here on teachat, I reported back to the boys that 1) the internet said we should pry medium chunks of tea off rather than little bits, and 2) we should consider getting a gaiwan or yixing teapot.

What we should have done was walk away at this point. Instead we picked the red pill.

One month later, we are now working our way through a large bag of samples from YS. I also have been reading the archives of this forum, went home to SoCal, drank tea with Taylor at Mad Monk and Imen at Tea Habitat, and hauled back loads of teaware for the office. Here’s what our office pu group has drunk so far:

1) Heng’s Mystery Pu -- Brewed in what they boys are now calling “French style.” They said it was very bitter with insane amounts of camphor and tobacco. Ben claims it made him lightheaded and woozy and is reluctant to try it again.

2) 2016 YS ‘Man Lin’ Ancient Arbor – Flash steeps in a cheap yixing. I really liked the raisin flavors in this one, but the boys got restless after a few steeps and wanted something with more oomph. I got this sample because several folks here mentioned liking it. Is this a good example of a tea that will age well?

3) 2002 Yiwu ‘Ancient Spirit’ – This was the big favorite. Ben loved the first steep and Heng enjoyed the bitterness that we got in the second and third steeps. I’m not a camphor fan, but it was a tolerable level for me.

YS describes this tea as “Banna wetter stored tea.” What does this mean? Google has not been helpful. Is Banna a village? Type of storage? Tea processing style? And why does this tea taste like camphor? Is it the processing, age, or storage?

4) 2006 Menghai 7672 shou – Total flop. Nobody cared for it and we all wanted to go back to the more astringent complexity of sheng. It’s possible we were brewing it wrong, and we are open to trying to more shou, but I think sheng will hold our interest more at this time. Does sheng eventually taste like shou and if so, after how long?

We have a few more samples to try but most are shou, so it’s time to start looking for more sheng. Rather than select at random again, could more experienced pu drinkers provide us with some guidance as to how to figure out what samples to get next? Do companies generally all have similar style teas meaning we should try a variety of producers? Should we make an effort to try teas from different areas and pick producers at random? Are there teas that are generally considered representative of an area/style?

Any suggestions as to specific teas would be most welcome. Thanks so much for reading!
Shou was developed to taste like aged sheng. Banna storage is storage with more humidity so the tea changes more and at a faster rate. Kunming is much drier and Hong Kong is more humid. I personally like Guandong stored teas. Puerh is a rabbit hole and you can see it has sucked you in a bit with the rest of us.

Recommendations would be easier if you had specific notes that you are looking for. Here is a lengthy thread that you may want to read through. Just remember everyone can have different notes from a specific tea. Storage and water are the biggest factors I think.
https://steepster.com/discuss/5496-pu-e ... ng-or-shou

Apr 19th 17 12:41 pm
Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 18th 17 1:58 pm

Re: Our Office Tea Adventures

by oogamooga » Apr 19th 17 12:41 pm

mr mopu wrote:
Shou was developed to taste like aged sheng. Banna storage is storage with more humidity so the tea changes more and at a faster rate. Kunming is much drier and Hong Kong is more humid. I personally like Guandong stored teas. Puerh is a rabbit hole and you can see it has sucked you in a bit with the rest of us.

Recommendations would be easier if you had specific notes that you are looking for. Here is a lengthy thread that you may want to read through. Just remember everyone can have different notes from a specific tea. Storage and water are the biggest factors I think.
https://steepster.com/discuss/5496-pu-e ... ng-or-shou
Thanks so much for the reply and the link to the thread! Is Banna an area of China? I've been working my way through that lengthy thread. So far, we are so new to puerh that we don't know how to describe what we are tasting. Mild camphor has been pretty popular though...

Apr 20th 17 1:01 am
Posts: 498
Joined: Feb 17th 13 5:34 pm

Re: Our Office Tea Adventures

by mr mopu » Apr 20th 17 1:01 am

oogamooga wrote:
mr mopu wrote:
Shou was developed to taste like aged sheng. Banna storage is storage with more humidity so the tea changes more and at a faster rate. Kunming is much drier and Hong Kong is more humid. I personally like Guandong stored teas. Puerh is a rabbit hole and you can see it has sucked you in a bit with the rest of us.

Recommendations would be easier if you had specific notes that you are looking for. Here is a lengthy thread that you may want to read through. Just remember everyone can have different notes from a specific tea. Storage and water are the biggest factors I think.
https://steepster.com/discuss/5496-pu-e ... ng-or-shou
Thanks so much for the reply and the link to the thread! Is Banna an area of China? I've been working my way through that lengthy thread. So far, we are so new to puerh that we don't know how to describe what we are tasting. Mild camphor has been pretty popular though...
Banna is in the Xishuang range. Southern end of Yunnan and near Myanmar and Vietnam.