Friday, June 14, 2024

Tips To A New Pu erh Tea Drinker


I am heartened to received questions from a few new pu erh tea drinkers from Europe and USA this year.  Many had asked about pu erh tea and how I brew my tea. Below are some 'tips' which I had discovered during my tea journey and adventures. Many of my readers would know these techniques I used for pu erh I apologise to the older readers if these 'tips' are familiar to you. 

1.  Breaking up your tea cake. When you have a new pu erh cake whether you got it from a shop or delivered by mail,  I would recommend (if you want to drink this tea) to break up the tea and place the broken pieces in a tea caddy.  Leave it for at least 2 weeks before you consume the tea. This aroma and taste would be much better if you open the tea cake directly when you had got the tea. This is call 'Xin cha', aka waking up the tea. I cannot explain why this works but breaking up a tea is practised by many serious tea drinkers. 

2.  Brewing the tea. You would normally need about 5-8g of tea when you have a tea brewing session. You can use a porcelain gaiwan or a teapot (approx 100-180ml).  When you use say 7g of pu erh tea. Do not put a 7g chunk of pu erh tea in your tea brewing vessel.  Some of these tea chunks are quite hard and you may still end up with a chunk of tea in your teapot after 5 infusions. Use a small tea pick or your fingers to pry the tea chunk to 6-8 pieces. This would allow the tea to infuse well throughout the tea session.   I recommend you to have about 6-8 infusions of tea from one sitting. If you want to 'rinse' the tea before you start your tea session, fill your gaiwan or teapot with the tea, add hot water to half the gaiwan and quickly discard the tea. 

3. Use boiling water for all your tea infusions. This simple trick will make sure the taste and aroma of tea is fully displayed during your tea session. There are some drinkers I know that only use boiling water for the initial infusions and continued the later infusions with the hot water in the kettle. The hot water will cool quickly and it gets cooled faster during winter. 

4.  I do not recommend you stretch a tea session for an extended time. Let me explain. If you have a tea session say in the morning, you can have 4 infusions in the morning and a few more in the afternoon. I do not recommend you 'continue' your tea session into the next day. It is my opinion that your tea leaves are damp and it may not be optimal or healthy that you overstretch a tea session. One tea drinker friend who drank a lightly roasted high mountain oolong and had accidentally left his tea in a gaiwan for 2 days, was shocked to discover a yellow/orange fungal growth on the leaves. Yes, this may not happen to pu erh tea but we are only examining the tea with our naked eyes. There may be something nasty on the tea leaves.   

Saturday, June 1, 2024

2011 Haiwan Zi Yun Raw Pu erh

When I sampled this tea more than 10 years ago, I liked it so much that I purchased a carton of this tea and followed up with another carton one year later.  

This is the 2011 Haiwan Ziyun raw pu erh brick.  I had also found out that this was a special order by a Guangzhou tea dealer.  This 250g tea brick came packed in a presentation cardboard box. This tea was made from the purple varietal leaves of the pu erh tree and blended with pu erh from the Yiwu region. 

I do not recommend this tea to a new pu erh drinker. There is hardly any sweetness from this tea.   This tea is strong.  Bitter notes dominate this tea with a very complex woody, herbal and floral profile in the tea. I enjoyed the salivating sensation after drinking a cup.   A nice warm kick emerged after a session of this tea.  I like.