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,
- 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”.
- 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