Thursday, September 18, 2014

Buying Puerh With A $30 Budget

Buying Pu erh with 30 bucks?  Having US$30 and making a purchase with online tea shops would be a challenge.  Many new pu erh tea are very expensive and $30 seem a bit insufficient especially if you are looking to purchase some raw pu erh tea.  

My recommendation is subjective as I am looking at the teas that are available online and that I had recently only tried some of these teas.  This would imply that I have not tried all the $30 teas out there but my intentions in this exercise is to show to my readers that one can buy reasonably good raw pu erh tea with this budget. 

The 1st 3 pix shows a Mengku 'Mu Ye Chun' raw pu erh tea that debuted in 2007.  Yes, this is the first Mu Ye Chun produced by Mengku tea factory.  A popular tea that saw this blend being produced on a yearly basis by Mengku.  This Mu Ye Chun blend is primarily tea leaves harvested from the Lincang region in Yunnan.  This tea is showing mild hints of aging in both taste and aroma.  This tea is non smoky and exhibit a nice bouquet of fruitiness in the tea.  And...this whole 400g tea cake has an asking price of less than $30 at online teashops.  Keep it for another 3 years and will be a 10 year old cake in your collection.  

If you are looking for pu erh tea with a smoky character. The 2013 Xiaguan Fangcha 100g brick makes a strong contender for your $30 budget.  Going for about $10 per brick, you can easily add 3 of these bricks to your collection.  I had talked about this tea in my earlier blog (link).  This tea has that nice smoky aroma and drinking this blend of 3-7 year old raw tea makes a pleasant tea session.  

But I digress.  My tea blogger friend Marshaln wrote an article entitled "Relativism In Tea" (link).  He explained that tea reviews are less relevant as they are subjective.  He gave the example of the different kinds of water used by tea drinkers round the world and brewing results would be different for these tea drinkers.  In his own words:

"There’s a reason I pretty much stopped writing tea reviews on this blog – they’re not useful and they don’t serve any real purpose, not even really for myself anymore at this point. So, I don’t do them."

I have a different point of view.  Most written works in the world today are subjective.  Reviews on food and drink, electronic gadgets, books or even hotel rooms are subjective in nature.  I rely on reviews when I want to find out more about a product.  Take hotel rooms for example.  The same hotel room can be described as too small or spacious, beds are hard or comfy, rude or friendly staff and quiet or noisy rooms are some reviews by users of these hotel rooms within a 3 month period.  When I am looking for a hotel in a new place, room costs, free wifi and close to food and transport amenities are important to me.  I will read such reviews and try to get a feel on the hotel.  Most of the time, it was a pleasant hotel room experience for me.  

Back to tea.  There is a huge assortment of tea out there for sale. Every teashop will say their tea are good if not the best.  Reading reviews or write ups on specific tea will help the reader discern and glean more information on the tea.  Facts like weight, price and age of the tea are indisputable.  But other things like whether a raw pu erh tea is smoky or not, fruity or not and stuff like mouthfeel of the tea may be very useful. Another advantage of writing your thoughts on tea is that  if another reader has the same tea, it would be fun to compare notes and may help in a future tea purchase.  There are teashops that consider 2010 raw pu erh as aged tea.....well that's the subjective part and its up to the reader to decide.  

Drinking Chinese tea is not a science.  For is a 2 minute getaway from the hustle and bustle of city living.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

agreed on all counts. tea shouldn't be objective - it's something to be enjoyed. flavors are definitely a good way to describe a tea - there are all types of palates out there, one guy might like smoky and bitter tea and another guy might like flowery, fruity, and sweet tea. it's all subjective to the one tasting the tea.

and yes - good sheng seems to be very achievable under $30! especially places like Yunnan Sourcing and Chawangshop who are pressing cakes for cheap.