Belgium Chinese Tea Arts Centre

Authentic & Pure Quality Tea

Category: Pu-Erh (Page 1 of 2)

Flavors of Post Fermentation

A post in the Gongfu Cha group on Facebook about having hair on tea cake caught a lot of interesting discussion since last night. Some people suggested that growing hair on tea cake means better quality. This reminded me why I disliked Pu’erh since I started to learn tea in 1985, because Pu’erh tea cake that I could find at that time in Taiwan were smuggling from Hong Kong, and I was totally not attracted by very strong dammed housing even urine-like flavors. However, the first visit to the Menghai Tea Factory in 2002, the natural and pleasant flavors and taste from Pu’erh, especially aged Pu’erh, were so attracted that turned my mind around completely.

Therefore, my first learning about Pu’erh started from distinguish the flavors changes in Sheng Pu’erh and Shou Pu’erh with different storaging conditions and the change in post fermentation.

Even many Chinese people can’t distinguish the difference between Chen Wei 陳味 (aging flavors) and Mei Wei 霉味 vs. . “stacking” flavors (Dui Wei 堆味)

For pu’erh or dark tea lover, especially to tea sommeliers, I do think we should not mess up with the “stacking” flavors (Dui Wei 堆味) vs. musty flavors (Mei Wei 霉味) vs. aging flavors (Chen Wei 陳味), because these three post fermented flavors have totally different presentations in terms of appearance – under appropriate storaging,

Image may contain: nature
Left:
Coronaria appears in greyish white (from natural aging fermentation
Right:
Scutellaria appears in white hair on tea cake (inappropriate dammed warehousing or bad storaging)

  • Color – With appropriate storage, actually the color of Pu’erh appears healthy and shinny. However, it is possible for some Sheng Pu’erh started to develop greyish white, it is the appearance of Coronaria which is not same as the structure of Scutellaria due to inappropriate storaging. The later would potentiallly have negative effects to health
  • flavors – the moldy in tea cake would develop very strong unpleasant flavors which are not same as appropriately aged flavors and tastes.
  • tastes – The black color mildew has an adverse effect on tea, often make the taste unpleasant because of “hemp, hanging throat, throat”.

Suggestions:

  • Avoid to purchase tea cake/brick/toucha that have 2 or more musty characters , because your health matters
  • Pay attention to the entire storaging environment but not just single storaging condition – air flow, bad odor-free, avoid light
  • Avoid to put Sheng Pu’erh with Shou Pu’erh together for aging process
  • Avoid to follow the sales marketing slogan blindly, learn to listen own body


Aged Pu’erh reached a record high price in Hong Kong Autumn auction

How crazy rich Chinese Pu’erh collectors can be?  Well, this latest news perhaps can give you an idea.
Auction in Hong Kong just finished, after five hours, Lot No. 387 Pu’erh tea cake (Sheng Pu’erh #8582) from the late 80’s has received the highest bid, five million seven hundred fifty thousand HKG dollars, the price is higher than the price in the Spring auction.
There are 42 pcs in this lot according to this photo, the unit price per tea cake is 3,750,000HKG Dollars (+/- abt. EUR500K per cake).
Another Lot No. 229 Pu’erh from Yang Pin Hao (楊聘號) ended with 2 million eighty eight thousand HKG dollars.
As you could imagine such rocky sky high priced Pu’erh are only for few rich Chinese; even though these look very attractive, but such luxury is not affordable by most people.
We support pure and authentic quality of tea, but not willing or able to support such high price bidding, because we aim to serve vase tea lovers but not just few tea collectors. Money can buy such priceless aged Pu’erh, but money can not buy time. No matter what, one thing is clear that such aged Pu’erh are limited in the world, every cup they drink, then a piece of it is gone.

Is Pu’erh Black Tea or Dark Tea?

In the Doucha (鬥茶) of a tea sample that girl friend from Ivo’s colleague brought who hoped I can give his girl friend a feed back about the quality, therefore the Doucha last night  did not mean to compete but simply tried to understand the unique characters of each tea.

The word of “Vintage Pu’erh” caught my attention, but quickly noticed an error on the package, because the British tea company put the tea type as “Black Tea ” (Hong Cha 紅茶in Chinese), as matter of fact, Pu’erh, particular Shou Pu (Ripped Pu’erh) should be in the “Dark Tea” (Hei Cha 黑茶 in Chinese) tea type.

Pu'erh is Dark Tea but not Black Tea in English

Pu’erh is Dark Tea but not Black Tea in English

The Heap Fermentation process has long history, it meant to produce water and temperature through the respiration of the added strain, to destroy the chlorophll in tea

Shou Pu 熟普 was not exist before 1973.  Before that they called the aged Pu’erh as Chen Cha 陳茶.  The production process for Pu’erh was very simple before the 70’s, Withering-> Solar Drying -> Steaming -> Compressing -> Drying.  The heap fermentation with cold water process actually was invented in 1958 by Liu Bao Cha 六堡茶 from Wuzhou, Guangxi.  But the heap fermentation of these two dark tea are different starting from the beginning:

  • The heap fermentation for Liubao tea is piling tea up during the production process
  • The heap fermentation for Shou Pu’erh is also using the piling up method after the production of Sheng Pu’erh

There are two types of Pu’erh, Sheng Pu 生普 and Shou Pu 熟普, because only Shou Pu uses the heap fermentation process, therefore, perhaps only Shou Pu really meets with Dark Tea.

According to the sticker, the original packed weight was 2,5gm, but actual weight I received is 1,5gm, therefore it means Ivo’s colleague only used 1,0gm to make tea in +/- 320ml tea pot.  That explains the infusion time of 3-5 minutes.

last night performed #doucha 鬥茶 – small-leaf ripped pu’erh vintage grade。

Vintage Pu’erh tea sample of Nxxxy
Flavor: obvious wet warehousing stinky aroma
Shape: tips are small, many broken leaves
Color: redish brown, problem with clarity
Taste: soft sweet but flat
After taste: not sufficient, weak Qi
Nxxxy mistaken the tea type as “Black Tea”, actually tea type for ripped Pu’erh is Dark Tea in English

2006 #puerhchahuang #普洱茶皇
Flavors: dried aging, woody with ripped fluity flavors
Shape: fatty tips, broken leaves are much less
Color: Rich Amber, good clarity
Taste: gentle sweet, full mouth of taste notes
After taste: rather faste, sufficient after tastes, feel warm quickly with Qi

Each person has his or her unique preference in flavours and tastes, it is a matter of definning the meaning for what define vintage quality and how individual choice differ from each others. So what is your choice?

 

Pu’erh – My cup of tea

Tasting you

What a joyful reunion of two old friends

even though it wasn’t long ago

but each time it’s like two old friends who met after a long time

Each reunion is such wonderful moment with joyful tear and heart full emotion

Such passion that can neither be described with words nor be melted even with ice from the North Pole.

Tasting you

It is like listening to the charm that hangs on the horse neck

It guides me to the ancient tea route with the sound of clink, clink, clink

Every step we move forwards, a new path is opened before us that has no end.

Old friend

even though you are far from the South, at the edge of cloud,

and yet you are so close to my heart

Silently you emerge with the beautiful harmony in Nature

Silently you enrich the healthy living, bring us joy

and guard us through the wisdom of Confucian, Taoism and Buddhism

It doesn’t matter which comes first, tea or people, just because you are already here.

Old friend,

With you, there are so many amazing stories and secrets of ancient tribes to tell

With you, we taste the harmony melody of heaven, earth and human, we realize the virtue of keeping head down

Time passed by without a trace

you have turned, turned, turned around for  thousands of year

and yet are still turning

You have been through many storms and changes

You have witnessed many turmoil and chaos

You stand straight quietly, do your best to survive and hope we can listen

You shed so many tear for human errors, your voice has not been heard and yet we fail to listen

Puerh Tea

One ancient Chinese name

It brings the gentle breeze and the whisper from the Nature

One big leaf that has many legends and surprises

One big leaf that has varied flavor and taste that transformed in time

My heart is touched by the natural wisdom

Every cup opens a door for a new journey

A true friend that enlightens my day in the darkness, warms up my heart in the coldness

Its warmth frees my mind and its wisdom whispers to my soul

It’s my cup of tea

It’s Pu’erh

2008 Bu Lang Sheng Pu’erh

Under the greyish sky, it’s time to enjoy the calm and ease energy.  After a bowl of noddle, I said to myself that I need to have a cup of tea to stimulate the digestion. The fine image of Bada mountain and ZhangLang cottages that mentioned in the earlier blog still hanging in my memory.  So my mind was set for Pu’erh.

Instead of young Sheng Pu’erh, it’s time for old tea; instead of opening another dialogue page in mind, I chose the Sheng Pu’erh from ZhangLang made by Bu Lang tribe of 2008.

2008 Bu Lang Sheng Pu’erh

After so many years,can easily divide leaves from the cake.

It’s hard to describe that joyful feeling when smelling that mixture of refreshing fruity, betel nuts, mos and grassy notes; the only thought was “Yes, Yes, Yes”.

What I love about Sheng Pu’erh from Zhanglang made by Bu Lang tribe is when you first drink it, the taste was soft and smooth, but the mouth is quickly full with the astringent after taste and the after taste last long.

When brewing this 8 years old Sheng Pu’erh made from >100 years old tea tree with wood-fired ceramic tea ware, it’s like enjoying a dialogue that combine wisdom of five elements between two zen monks. The dialogue without speaking, simply enjoy peace and tranquillity in a moment of silence.

 

 

2017 Pu’erh (Sheng)

2017 Pu’erh tea is available. The market for Pu’erh this spring again is tricky, because the quantity is less due to the insufficient rain and frost. Luckily the weather showed her mercy before, during and after leaves were picked.
 
Expecting the price marks high this year, but I believe the quality is  interesting that worth for collection.
 
A no-so-good quality Pu’erh won’t become good-to-better quality pu’erh by the aging process through years of storage. It’s better to invest on good-to-better quality to have a reasonable stone to make a snow ball in the future.
 
Growing old together Pu’erh is fun and inspiring.

BaDa/ZhangLang Sheng Pu’erh

Region:

Tea cake is made from tea leaves from Zhanglang cottage and BaDa mountain region.  The average age of tea tree: >100 years old.  

BaDa Mountain is one of the most
concentrated areas of ancient tea tree resources in Xishuangbanna, and there are more than 6,000 mu of original ancient tea tree.  Zhanglang is the largest family stockade of BuLang tribe.  The altitude is about 1750meters where have not only very rich resource for Puerh tea production, but also the cultural heritage is also obsessed by many people who appreciate tea and nature. 

Flavour & Taste

BuLang Pu’er tea is known for its steady atmosphere, delicated flavor from the tea liquid. The taste is somewhat watery soft and smooth with slight bitter astringent taste; the after taste comes slowly in mouth but full of stamina that chants in your mind with its memorable flavor and taste.

Picking date: around 29/3/2017

Net weight: 200grams

In general, this year the region has ess rain after the Chinese New Year and the frost afterwards caused drops of fresh young leaves.  The quantity has drops about 40% but the demands are increased therefore the whole sales price increases more than double than last year. Even though the price is slightly higher this year, but the quality is worth for collection.

Please contact me for more information.

Email: info@teasommelier.be

Tel: +32-494506899

 

Sheng Puerh only get Old and Aged

Why it is important to learn history and the basic tea theory when learning tea? It’s simple, so you can justify the information is true or false. For example,
 
A riped Puerh claimed older than 50 years, is it true or false?
False! 
Facts: 
  1. The  manually piling fermentation process to accelerate the post-fermentation flavour and taste of Riped Puerh (Shou Puerh) was successfully developed in 1975.  The technique was only mature for massive production in 1984.
  2. the post fermentation process can indeed transformed the color:
    1. Raw puerh (Sheng Puerh) becomes to dark color and the flavour becomes more intense,
    2. the color, flavour and taste of Riped Puerh are not same as aged Raw Puerh
  3. The color of leaves:
    1. Aged raw puerh (sheng puerh) will become dark grey olive green color;
    2. Riped puerh (shou puerh) is in dark brown or dark brownish copper color.
  4. The color of tea liquid:
    1. Raw puerh : in yellow series, i.e. yellowish amber, orange amber
    2. Riped puerh: Brownish red, wine red, dark red or even in liver brown

With years of storage and post fermentation, raw puerh (sheng puerh) remains as aged puerh but won’t become a riped puerh (Shou Puerh).

Gu Shu Puerh

Gu Shu 古樹 is a general term for ancient aging tea trees that are older than hundreds to thousand of year old, that normally grow in nature forest and are found on the high altitude areas. It is hard to say precisely how old these tea trees are because these trees are under protection; so people can only give an estimation based on its height and size.  In Yunnan, it has already discovered more than 1,000 acres of ancient tea trees; there are 14 estates are connected together, the cover area is about 21.21 acres.  Till now the countable discovered thousands year old ancient tea trees in Yunnan are 32 trees, it is about 43% from what have been discovered in China.

Gu Shu Pu-erh tea comprises in two different categories:

  1. Transitional cultivated type : Tea trees have been cultivated long long time ago, from few hundreds to thousands of year; basically the size of tea tree is tall and strong.
  2. Ye Sheng 野生, it short means wild tea trees that were found in between nature forest and cultivated tea plantation and its DNA is related to the cultivated tea trees. Not all wild tea trees can be processed to make tea drink because many raw tea leaves are pretty bitter.  Good quality is limited.

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But Ye Shen Cha (野生茶 Pu-erh tea made from wild tea trees ) is not equivalent to Gu Shu Cha (古樹茶 Pu-erh tea made from Ancient aging tea trees), Da Shu Cha (大樹茶 Pu-erh tea made from transitional aging tea trees) or Shen Tai Ye Fang Cha (生態野放茶 Pu-erh tea made from widely cultivated aging tea trees) . Ye Shen Cha is not necessary equivalent to good quality tea.

  • Arbor type of tea trees that are divided by the age :
    • if the age of the arbor type of tea tree is younger than 100 years old, it’s called Old Tea Tree (老樹),
    • the age is between 100-300 as Big Tea Tree (大樹),
    • if it’s older than 300 years, then it is called Gu Shu (古樹)
    • The ancient cultivated arbor type of Gu Shu (栽培型古樹) , the age is more than 300 years ago and grow in a natural protected environment can produce good quality Pu-erh tea.
    • Shen Tai Ye Fang (生態野放) means these tea trees that were manually cultivated but have been abandoned for decades or few hundreds of year, the plantation is now under well organic management.
    • Ye Shen Cha (野生茶 Wild tea tree cultivar) means those tea trees that have been grown widely without being cultivated or management. Tea trees were grown from seeds, there are lots of variety.  No hair or very little hair on the young buds/leaves, the edge has less cog or none; the color of fresh raw tea leaves is in dark olive green color. There are lots of cultivars in wild tea trees, no much can be processed to make tea because of its bitter taste, the local aboriginals call it as Ku Cha (苦茶).  The wild tea contents more soap base and have mild toxic micro, can cause diarrhea. It is advised to be cautious with the consumption of this kind of Ku Cha.

When we enjoy and try to promote Pu-erh tea, it is important to establish some basic understanding before creating more confusions:

  • “Aged Pu-erh” 陳年普洱 means Pu-erh tea made from either Lao Shu (老樹) or Da Shu (大樹) or even from Ping Di (平地) that’ve been stored for long time, it can be either loose leaves, tea brick or tea cake. Can you distinguish the change of aroma and taste during the transformation? It is a surprising life-time learning.
  • Gu Shu Pu-erh” 古樹普洱 means Pu-erh tea that madefrom ancient tea trees, either from transitional cultivated tea tree or Ye Shen (Wild) tea tree cultivars. Since the growing areas of Gu Shu are spreading in pretty wide region in Yunnan, therefore, it is necessary to find out more behind the name.

3_408_244Basic check list for Pu-erh:

  1. Basic thing you need to check is:Is it a raw or ripped Pu-erh? The color, aroma and taste will reveal the truth once you have a chance to physically check on it and brew it; the change of transformation is a amazing surprisePrecise information about the growing region
  2. Is it from Ping Di (平地 lower altitude) or Gao Shan (高山 high altitude above 1000m)
  3. The quality of leaves, i.e. the single source of tea leaves or blended leaves; is it tou cha, tea cake, tea brick or loose leaves
  4. In which year it was being truly made, the condition of the wrapping paper and in-fly can reveal a lot of information already.

Like for all kind of tea, there is no better method to evaluate the tea besides checking the quality by its look (shape & color), aroma, flavor and taste.

Tea is a wonderful gift from Nature; it is a simple agricultural product but its complexity is much deeper and wider that no one can really draw the end line for exploration and learning.  The journey of tea begins from liking and appreciating tea.  Tea is a great teacher when we are willing to explore further with a opened mind and maintain a curious learning attitude.  The name or the brand is not necessary mean good quality tea, because each person might have her/his unique preferences to flavor and taste, basically what that person likes and can afford are ‘good’ tea to that person.

What is your favorite tea today?  Enjoy a peaceful tea moment.

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2001 Phoenix raw Puerh toucha

Phoenix raw Puerh toucha after 12 years of aging process, it has fine woody with mint and plum flavour.

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2001 Mini Tou Cha

Non-intentionally let it sat in a Yixing clay tea jar for more than 15 years.

Now it has transformed to an astonishing beauty.

Mini Tou Cha of year 2001

Mini Tou Cha of year 2001

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Brewing it with a classical earth ware teapot

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Color: Beautiful clarity in rich brownish red color with a golden ring.

Surprisingly smooth flavour with mild notion of astringent that accelerate the after taste of sweetness back on the tip of tongue

The 1st infusion (Left) vs. the 2nd infusion (Right)

The 1st infusion (Left) vs. the 2nd infusion (Right). The color is getting richer in the later infusions.

The dried sweetness taste does not just stay on your tonque, it further stimulate the after taste at side in mouth, feel the surprisingly stimulative taste between teeth from the back side moves to the front.

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