Popular Post abcdefg Posted June 10, 2015 at 11:30 AM Popular Post Report Share Posted June 10, 2015 at 11:30 AM Pu’er tea 普洱茶 is distinctive and delicious, but if you are new to Chinese tea, this is probably not the best place to start. It’s less easily approachable than reds and greens. It’s not the easiest tea to make well or the easiest tea to like. In particular, I would urge you to consider Dian Hong 点红茶 as a “first tea.” Get to know Dian Hong, and then return to Pu’er. I realize not everyone will agree with that subjective bit of advice. Brewing Pu’er tea 普洱茶 requires a little bit of equipment and technique in order to bring out its unique flavor and let it shine. I’ll take you through a basic step-by-step “how to” before discussing specific types of Pu'er in much detail. Wanted to just jump right in, instead of dancing around what could easily become too big a subject. If you have been following the main Chinese Tea thread, you will already have seen some discussion of Pu’er, starting at about post #50, on page 3. Some good information there. http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/48538-chinese-tea-%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD%E8%8C%B6/page-3 One can find internet discussions that contain so much arcane detail as to be off-putting if you are just starting out. I will do my best to keep this introduction simple. We can come back later together and flesh it out. Today I just wanted to get started; so please forgive me if this is kind of sketchy and skeletal. Please feel free to add to it or make corrections. To brew Pu’er tea, you need two things for sure; and these you cannot do without. Namely, the tea and a teapot. A gaiwan doesn’t allow steeping at high enough temperatures most of the time. These tea pots are small; a Pu’er pot will easily sit in the palm of your hand. First time you see one, you might think it’s just a toy. The ones pictured above are from Jianshui 建水in SE Yunnan. But the most famous ones are from Yixing 宜兴 in Jiangsu. They come in different colors, tan and reddish brown being the most common, but the actual material is none-the-less usually referred to as 紫砂 or purple clay. These two below are Yixing pots. Every dogmatic assertion seems to have at least one exception. And the exception to what I just said about requiring a pot is that you can make an enjoyable cup of Pu’er tea using the “grandpa method” described in other threads. This one: (Post #15.) http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/48541-how-to-make-green-tea-that-isnt-bitter/ And also here: (Post #3.) http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/48661-dian-hong-%E6%BB%87%E7%BA%A2%E8%8C%B6-yunnans-simplest-tea/ But lets agree that one should ideally have a small clay pot. Then we can move on and talk a little about the tea. The one I’m using today is a ripe Pu’er, 熟茶， with a deep, rich, mellow flavor. It’s relatively expensive (about 300 Yuan) and is sold in small bricks 砖茶 that weigh 250 grams. Pu’er that is older than 2008 will usually just say “陈年” instead of having an exact production year and date. All Pu’er tea will have an embedded label 内飞 as well as identifying information on the wrapper. More commonly, Pu’er tea is sold in round cakes 茶饼 that weigh 375 grams. They look like this one, shown below. Some of these will be ripe Pu’er, and they are identified as such on the label. They will say 熟茶。Other cakes are raw or 生茶 and will be marked that way. At times the label just says something similar in different words, which can be a little confusing. This one is an example of that, since it says “云南大叶种茶叶晒请毛茶” – which verbatim means “large-leaf variety tea, shai qing mao cha.” It is "mao cha" (semi-finished) that has just undergone rapid firing 杀青 in a large wok and compressing into cakes. It has not had a long fermentation process and will taste fairly close to the way it did shortly after being picked. Pu’er cakes always have a hollow on one side where a twist knot was made in the muslin bag used during the pressing phase of production. More about that later. The process of how these unique cakes are made is interesting and worth more ink another day. First order of business is to use a spade-pointed tool (茶刀 or 茶针) to flake off some of the dry tea. You pry up some of the cake or brick and kind of peel it away; don’t slice it or cut it with scissors. This allows the preservation of slightly longer leaves or leaf fragments. If you don’t have one of these tools, it’s fine to improvise with a non-sharp table knife. People who drink Pu'er a lot also usually have a shapely purpose-built dish to hold the pried-loose tea leaves before putting them in the pot instead of just using a saucer or small dish. I'll probably wind up buying one before long. (Hate to gather too much gear; small apartment; not much storage space.) How much tea to use? Enough to fill the bottom third or so of your teapot after it has steeped and expanded. It can be difficult to judge by eye initially when it’s dry. Furthermore, it will vary according to how tightly packed the tea leaves happen to be in the cake or brick. Rule of thumb is to use more than you think you need; then next time use less if it was too much. That’s the prep. We are now at the "Boil some water" stage. Will stop here and continue in another post about actually brewing it so this one doesn’t get unmanageably long. 18 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.