"ws" ha scritto nel messaggio
Very precise report on the subject. I have never had the chance to taste a
Tongqing cake, but I just saw some pictures and read the story of that firm
on Mr Deng Shihai's book on Pu'er tea. How did you get those precious
i dont have the full tongqing cakes unfortunately, only 10 grams given
as a gift by a tea shop owner. The teashop i patronise most often has
two pieces of tongqing tea cakes, each piece retailing for about 20k.
I have not drank it yet, but as what the tea shop owner told me based
on his fifty years experience dealing with pu-erh, not all aged or
ancient pu-erh tea suits the tastes of many people. And not many
people know how to appreciate it too.
A very very old pu-erh tea may be very expensive and rare, but if it
doesnt suit your taste or palate, there's no point in spending so much
money buying something you dont really like to drink or enjoy :)
There's a batch of new tongqing tea cakes worth keeping! the 270th
anniversary of tongqing tea cakes, produced this year. only 13300
pieces world wide,and every cake's made of high quality leaf
materials, one bud and a leaf.
After drinking so much pu-erh and keeping countless pu-erh tea cakes,
my favourite's still Guang Yun Gong Bing, which originated from the
1950s to the recent 1990s. Not really common or known to many
foreigners to pu-erh tea cakes, as most foreign tea retailers only
carry the paper wrapped Zhong Cha brand of tea cakes.
Guang yun Gong bing, guang stands for Guang zhou in china, Yun stands
for Yunnan. The best leaves used to be sent from yunnan to guangzhou
to be compressed and processed into guangyung tea cakes, really really
hard tightly compressed tea cakes.
Here's another write up before i go away for a few days, will be back
How to choose Pu-erh Tea???
Most people would trust the tea shops and their descriptions etc when
it comes to choosing tea. But note that the tea shop is going to
profit if you buy from them, thus they might make things seem better
than its supposed to be by describing it differently. Some people,
being inexperienced about tea and such might be taken in, and spend a
lot of money on something that is not really worth his or her money.
However, there are certain reputable tea shops whose judgements can be
trusted though. but the best thing's still being capable personally to
judge and choose pu-erh teas instead on relying on opinions from
teashops or merchants.
There are a few key factors in choosing good pu-erh tea, and a few
undesirable mistakes people fall for.
When choosing good pu-erh tea, the first factor is that the tea should
smell clear and distinctly tea-ish, whether its clearly smoky or
wooody etc dependent on the age. The tea should not have odd odours,
neither should it smell mouldy. Tea absorbs smell rather easily, thus
if improperly kept, the tea can pick up funny smells from anything, be
it smell of cooking, spices etc.
The second factor is appearance. The tea cake should look reddish if
its a very very ancient green pu-erh tea cake, greenish when new, but
never solely pure black if its green-pu -erh. The tea cake should not
have white/yellow dots which might be mould or yeast forming. When
buying expensive tea cakes, its generally prefered for the cakes to be
whole, without huge cracks. Sometimes, people might sample expensive
tea cakes by using a knife to scrape the centre of the depression
behind the tea cake, flaking leaves off, this is seldom noticed, but
it results in the tea cake being less complete. Even i do that to some
of my rarer tea cakes, because i only have one piece of them, scraping
flakes off the back allows me to sample the tea without disfiguring
the tea cake, (but i dont sell them though!).
The third factor is the taste of the brew. This can only come with
experience and more exposure to pu-erh tea. purchasing samples from
pu-erh tea museums can allow one to taste teas of different ages,
enabling people to distinguish.
Major mistakes people commit when buying pu-erh tea, when
1) Believing the acclaimed aged of the pu-erh tea cake etc. E.g.
Believing that a piece of black pu-erh tea cake is fifty years old
when the manufacturing process was only created 30years ago. And
spending lots of money on a pu-erh tea just because it was claimed to
be very old.
2) Purchasing a tea cake etc just because of its packaging. Some tea
cakes can come in very nice satin boxes, i've seen it around, the
price is high, but the tea cake inside is not as old as claimed by the
packaging. Everyone knows redlabel pu-erh tea is imperial celestial
stuff, but not all red-labeled pu-erh tea cakes are the real products.
Real red-labeled pu-erh tea cake costs about $3000 a piece. in china,
its known that people do re-pack tea cakes, and technology has enabled
them to reproduce the same type of wrapping and wordings as compared
to the 1940s. I've seen a red-labeled pu-erh tea cake selling for
fifty dollars, the paper wrapping and printing is similar to that of
the post-world war 2 red-labeled pu-erh, upon sniffing the tea cake, i
knew the tea inside was less than a year old, still green and floral.
A green-label tea cake can be turned into a red-label tea cake just by
changing the packaging and wrapping :)
3) Do not buy a tea just based on its brew color. A well aged over
thirty years green-pu er tea gives a brew that has the same color as
red dates, a deep clear reddish color, but do not purchase based on
the brew color. A black pu-erh tea gives a very dark black coffee like
brew, a new green pu-erh gives a bright yellow brew. WHAT if i mix a
bit of black pu-erh with a bit of green pu-erh? With the correct
proportions i can easily give a brew that looks similar to a well aged
green pu-erh tea cake.
4)dusty mouldy tea cakes does not mean its very old.
5) Tea thats claimed to be very old and sold for a hundred dollars to
two hundred dollars might not be good bargain. This is because tea is
always value for money, you pay more money for a better aged product.
For a tea above fifty years old, expect the price to be fivehundred to
a few thousand dollars. Tongqing tea cakes, which is about at least
80years to a hundred years old sells for tens of thousand dollars. do
not expect to buy something really old for very little money, e.g.
70year old tea selling for $200? impossible.
6) Spend a lot of $$ on a tea but not knowing how to appreciate it, or
not liking the taste of it. Money is hard earned, and does not come by
easily. And when you work hard, you would always want to have personal
enjoyments. If you take tea to be one of your little personnal
enjoyments, buy something expensive if only you really enjoy tasting
or drinking it. spend $1000 on something you dont like, its $1000 down
All these are my personnal opinions and experiences from collecting
pu-erh tea. I've made some of these mistakes when i started off
collecting and drinking. The bottom line's still the need for
experience with these teas. Drink more. Taste more. If in doubt, check
with others before committing a lot of money to tea.
The microbes in Pu-erh Teas are generally always naturally present,
just like how bread or things can go mouldy without the need of
introducing such microbes to them by man.
As for the second question, the description provided is of the
appearance of the brew, as taste can differ. Black pu-erh tea's highly
oxidised, approximately over 80% to 100%. This results in that very
dark, black, opaque brew with suspended particles (unless you filter
it with a fine net).
Green Pu-erh tea cakes, generally are very lightly oxidised or not
oxidised at all, maximally at a 30%-40% oxidation in rare cases. This
percentage of oxidation will increase over the years, but will never
reach the level of 80% to 100% of the black pu-erh teas.
a naturally aged cake should look, smell and taste uniformly. and
there is a distinct floral woody scent, unlike artificially
fermented/ripened pu-erh tea, where such delicate aromas are
destroyed, and replaced by a heavier earthy body/scent.
however, with technology advancement, better printing/forgery
facilities, nowadaes many artificial tea cakes can be replicated with
the appearances highly similar to the real aged products. it takes
only experience with real aged tea, that one can easily distinguish
these products, especially by sniffing the tea cake.
a green pu-erh will definitely taste different, and it depends on
where its stored! airconditioning in hongkong is always associated
with dry air, and dry air oxidation of tea cakes generally results in
a rather high quality aged tea, with many delicate flavours still
existing, without mouldy tastes and scents overwhelming them. and if
the tea cake's stored with scented things, such as jasmine teas,
flowers, etc, the tea cake can pick up scents as well. if its kept in
yunnan, the air's different, if located near mountaineous regions,
will always experience a very humid air, resulting in a differnt
flavour and tea body. thats what that makes pu-erh special. its a
living tea that changes with storage.
real aged green pu-erh's expensive and valuable because the original
taste of it is widely enjoyed, accepted by many people. i dont mean to
discriminate "artificial" or artificially oxidised/fermented pu-erh.
believe it or not, some of them taste rather unique. i bought one
piece of reconstituted Guang Yun tea cake, made from loose bits of
guangyun leaves(that dropped from old tea cakes), some greener pu-erh,
and some 80% riped pu-erh compressed into a cake. the tea shop owner
had only 3 pieces, which his brother posted to him from hongkong. got
it for rather cheap, only $50 per cake.
Sure enough, it tastes rather different, the tea is very very smooth,
not earthy at all, but florally woody, with the contribution of an
aged scent from the guangyun tea bits. the brew color resembles a 30yr
old pu-erh tea cake, because of the 80% ripened pu-erh present, and
some green-pu-erh to reduce the blackness. wonderful i say, for the
person made this reconstitution.
i've known some people who like to mix tea, especially lowgrade white
tea(which's rather dark and smooth tasting with almost no scent) with
some green pu-erh. the white tea reduces the harsh taste of new green
pu-erh, contributes to the smoothness. then again, such things are
always up to personnal preference.
pu-erh tea is intriguing. countless varieties, ages, leaf types, all
tasting different. it boils down to the same point, if you really
enjoy drinking a particular type of tea or pu-erh, then that tea is
really worth your $$. else other times, maybe you can purchase little
bits of rare or uncommon pu-erh just to sample the exoticity, but not
for regular consumption.
i've once spent $300 on a tea cake(small yellow label) which i didnt
really like the taste of. exotic, but just dont enjoy it.
really glad that a lot of people are into Pu-erh tea nowadaes.
drinking pu-erh is the key to better health.
Learn to enjoy it and drink it. Pu-erh tea varieties are countless,
there's always bound to be a type that individuals will like.
Thank-you very much for your post! I've been trying to find
information on green pu-erh for a long time, but haven't had much
luck. If I may ask, do you know of any good sources for pu-erh that
will ship internationally? Most of the on-line sources for beengcha
have a limited selection or very high prices (such as ITC) relative to
what I remember when visiting HK and KL. I'm down to only one cake
which is mature enough to drink and am looking to lay in stock for
long term storage.
Thank you for these postings and for the link to the web site. I
was able to connect; found the pictures very useful.
I placed an order for some pu-erh yesterday, my first experience
with this tea. The tea is called Pu-Erh Tuo Cha. Any advice on
Pu-Erh Tuo Cha? any links to check out? There's a huge variety of
pu-erh tuo cha around. Most foreign sources do carry the small button
like versions, and some of those 50gram, to 100 gram tuo-chas.
Is it a green or black pu-erh tea?
If its a green pu-erh tea, you might want to let the tea air it self
for a few days, by leaving it exposed to the air at a dry odourless
place for the tea to "come back to life" after having been kept in a
plastic packaging for a long time. If you are brewing a green pu-erh
tea that hasnt be really aged for long, you might want to keep a very
very very short brewing time for about 30 seconds for the first steep
as the brew can be rather astringent.
If its a black pu-erh tea, it would be rather smooth tasting. Those
little pu-erh tuo cha buttons are rather easy to brew.
Whenever you brew pu-erh tea, its always advisable to fill the pot
with water from a height slowly, i.e. raise your kettle high when you
are filling the tea pot. This causes water to aerate better and this
aeration process helps bring out the pu-erh tea taste better. Do not
steep for too long, as you might get a very very very thick coffee
like brew for black pu-erhs. Limit yourself to about 45 seconds for an
initial brew, and maintain this 45second for the subsequenct few brews
cuz blackpu-erh tea 's a very strong tea. You dont have to increase
the steeping times for the first few brews, i.e. the first 5 brews.
Remember to crush or fragmentise your pu-erh tuo cha buttons before
brewing! else it takes very very very long for water to soak through
the tea button if its a very well compressed tea. If its a huge
tuo-cha, like a 100gram or a 250 gram piece, break small pieces off,
or use a very blunt knife to flake pieces off.
I have some cheap pu-erh I bought at Ten Ren. I'm drinking it right now- I
like it when I'm sick (I have a cold). I'm afraid I broke all your rules,
cos' I like my pu-erh kinda thick. I poured hot water over the buttons,
enough to cover them, and then poured it off. Then I added my hot water
proper. I let it sit for les than a minute and then had my first cup. I did
let the tea sit in the pot though, which I don't do with other teas.
Oddly, cheap pu-erh tuo cha tastes great with a wee nip orf rum and some
Demarara sugar, both of which are sacrilege. Supposedly, the tea is a good
cold remedy- butd what with the rum and all, it doesn't matter to me if that
is truth or folklore.
dont worry about breaking the rules cuz there isnt really much of any
rules to follow in the first place. most importantly is that you enjoy
what you brew =) different people have different tastes and its
important for everyone to find out how they like their tea :)
Thanks. I assure you that I was being somewhat tongue in cheek about
'breaking the rules'. The good news is that my cold seems to be gone. The
other good news is that I'm now working off all those marzipan cookies I ate
while sick- I'm going to the gym. Even better news- I was picking up some
meal supplements yesterday and found out that many body-builders use
caffeine as a way of burning off fat- another excuse for my tea-drinking (as
if I needed any). Here's the best news of all- it's the rainy season again
which means it is now cool enough for me to drink hot tea like mad.
I may have to have more medicinal pu-erh tuo cha anyway, to make sure I
don't get sick again. and of course, we have to put in the special
flavoring that makes the tea easier to drink, now don't we?
Well, I just found a source for some green pu-erh and I've ordered a
Menghai Wild Tree beencha from 2003 as well as some high-grade tuocha.
The source is an ebay seller by the name of pdalien. The shipping is
ruinously expensive, but I haven't been able to find a cheaper source.
I'm trying to convince Kam Leung of FunAlliance.com to carry young
green pu-erh. Here's hoping I can drum up enough interest.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Cameron Lewis) writes:
Silk Road Teas has carried Menghai cakes in the past. I'm not sure if
they have them right now but you might want to give them a call (they
aren't on the Net.)