Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

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


Feb 4th, '12, 23:36
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Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by caulfield » Feb 4th, '12, 23:36

or recommend a good place to start? Please excuse my ignorance. I have been drinking loose leaf tea Western style for years, but recently discovered this website. I've been interested in both Gongfu brewing and Pu-Erh, but I have no idea where to begin. To be honest, the whole thing feels slightly overwhelming.

I have read many of the forum posts, but I still have many questions. I have a $50 gift card and I thought I could buy a gaiwan, two yixing cups and some Pu-Erh to start out with. I thought about getting this from Red Blossom Tea.

But I wondered how much tea to use for a gongfu tea ceremony? What temp for the water, etc. Are there detailed instructions for a complete newbie anywhere?

Thanks for any advice and I'm sorry to bother anyone.

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Feb 5th, '12, 00:35
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by davelcorp » Feb 5th, '12, 00:35


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Feb 5th, '12, 01:21
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by debunix » Feb 5th, '12, 01:21

The key thing to note about brewing tea gongfu style is that you make adjustments for the next infusion based on the one before it. It really doesn't matter that much how much tea you use: if the first infusion is too strong, shorten the next one; if it's too weak, lengthen the next one.

But most of us brewing a mellow puerh will try for enough leaf, when wetted and the leaf expands, to fill the brewing vessel at least half way, if not completely full. Something between 1 and 2 grams of tea per 50mL is a decent place to start. A small digital scale is a really worthwhile investment especially with puerh, because cakes or bricks can undergo very different levels of compression and break off in irregular chunks, and it's a great aid to train your eye for how much of various teas makes a cuppa that *you* enjoy.

So....get your puerh, bring a kettle to a boil or very near boil, warm up the gaiwan with some hot water, pour it out, drop in the chunk o' pu, pour hot water in and drain it out (flash rinse for dust etc), wait a minute or two for the tea to hydrate, then another almost-flash infusion (10") but drink the tea this time. Like it? Keep going, lengthening infusion times as the tea starts to get weak. Too wimpy? Try 20"-30", or even a minute. Too strong? It's hard to pour an infusion in less than 10 seconds, but you can always dilute the result with more hot water or take some of the wet tea out of the gaiwan (you can set it aside to brew later if you put it in a clean cup/gaiwan/teapot).

Feb 5th, '12, 03:07
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by shah82 » Feb 5th, '12, 03:07

What shop is that $50 gift card *for*?

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Feb 5th, '12, 05:26
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by Acaelus » Feb 5th, '12, 05:26

shah82 wrote:What shop is that $50 gift card *for*?
Probably 50$ prepaid Visa or Mastercard.

Feb 5th, '12, 09:28
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by wh&yel-apprentice » Feb 5th, '12, 09:28

forget wiki, start here:

http://teaguardian.com/puer_tea_feature.html

^bit disorganized site, click on various links to find what you need.

Feb 5th, '12, 14:01
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by caulfield » Feb 5th, '12, 14:01

Thank you all so much for the advice, it really helps.

It is a $50 Visa gift card, which is why I was thinking of spending it at Red Blossom since I could buy a gaiwan, Pu-Erh, yixing tasting cups and a storage tin all in one place. Has anyone ordered Pu-Erh from here? Any suggestions for a newbie?

http://www.redblossomtea.com/tea/pu-erh.html

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Feb 5th, '12, 14:12
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by Acaelus » Feb 5th, '12, 14:12

The pu-erh from Red Blossom isn't actually to my palette... It's a little boring, this coming from someone who adores Menghai Shu-pu. You'd be better off ordering your pu-erh from jas-etea or yunnansourcing's US branch imo.

What gaiwan are you considering? I looooove the summer Gaiwan I bought. It's ludicrously large, about 150mL with the lid on but it works so nicely I use it for everything. I also rarely get my fingers burnt with it.

Feb 5th, '12, 15:11
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by shah82 » Feb 5th, '12, 15:11

$50 isn't actually enough to be worthwhile to get any cakes for a total newbie...

Do this:

http://www.jas-etea.com/products/Xi%252 ... mpler.html

http://www.jas-etea.com/products/Hai-La ... mpler.html

select sample of...
http://www.jas-etea.com/products/2007-M ... grams.html

http://www.jas-etea.com/products/2008-M ... grams.html

The whole thing of this:
http://www.jas-etea.com/products/2009-% ... -Ripe.html

http://www.jas-etea.com/products/Lotus-Gaiwan.html

And that really should give you a reasonably broad introduction without huge costs... You'll spend about $30 more dollars before shipping...

Alternatively, you could get this:

These small cakes are meant to be enjoyed by nonsophisticated entrants to the joys of too-expensive-teas...

http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... ts_id=1363

and get a gaiwan elsewheres...

Feb 5th, '12, 19:17
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by G-off-re » Feb 5th, '12, 19:17

I live down the street from Red Blossom so i've been there a bunch of times. Their new gaiwans are way too big at 6oz and their tea is a bit boring. If you live close by than its worth a trip in there to try their selection before buying but not worth blindly ordering from them. Buy from a vendor that sells mainly pu-erh since their selection will be better.
Also buy samples instead of a whole cake or brick.

Feb 5th, '12, 21:50
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by caulfield » Feb 5th, '12, 21:50

Actually I live in South Georgia, nowhere near SF or any tea place, which is why I want to make my order count. I only thought Red Blossom because I could buy everything (Gaiwan, cups, tea, etc.) in one place.

It looks like I'll probably buy from Puerh shop or Jas tea

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Feb 6th, '12, 01:29
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by MarshalN » Feb 6th, '12, 01:29

Pretty far from you, I know, but if you visit Atlanta, consider contacting BBB

http://puerh.blogspot.com/2012/02/our-s ... ffair.html

Feb 7th, '12, 08:29
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by oeroe » Feb 7th, '12, 08:29

If I were you, I would get a gaiwan, and maybe a nice teacup or two. I wouldn't worry much about the clay of the cup, yixing or not yixing, glass or whatever.
Then, as suggested, I would buy samples. What I liking about tasting teas, is that you are quite largely in control. Try out what you like, brew tea how you like it. So called "gong fu tea ceremony" is fairly loose term, and I bet people here could give you a multitude of definitions. I think the basic idea is to use small brewing vessel, lots of tea compared to water, hot water and take many short brewings out of same leaves. It's not that important how much leaf do you use, or how long steeping times.

About pu'er, I think it's really important to realise that there are many different types of pu'er.
Pu'er can be either ager-young, blended - single estate, big factory - small factory, old tree - plantation bush, sheng (raw/green) - shou (cooked/black)..
It's really important to realise these, and to find out what you prefer. I would try to get as large array of samples as possible, to find out your pu'er taste. Then you can sample more those categories you like, and maybe even buy a cake. Cake is a lot's of tea, I would hurry getting that big amounts to my shelf.
Essence of Tea is an excellent place for getting some fairly cheap yet good samples of aged teas.

Feb 7th, '12, 22:59
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Re: Could someone walk me through Pu-Erh

by xiaijipincha » Feb 7th, '12, 22:59

debunix wrote: It's hard to pour an infusion in less than 10 seconds, but you can always dilute the result with more hot water or take some of the wet tea out of the gaiwan (you can set it aside to brew later if you put it in a clean cup/gaiwan/teapot).
Actually, if you have a taller teapot, you can use a main filter to keep most of the leaves out and just pour the water through the leaves. This has allowed me to do two things: prepare a lot of tea for many people and also to brew the tea for a lighter brew.

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