Hurray! You’ve just discovered the world of Pu Erh tea, what’s next?
I guess this blog serves as a kind of ‘back to basics’ travel guide to help one navigate the treacherous waters of fine Pu teas. A message in a bottle, back to my ‘former Tea noob’ self. I remember back in the days when I was first emarking on my tea journey, it felt so daunting. This basic guide will help you in building a foundation of which to explore this amazing world safely!
- You must be set up with the correct equipment or you’ll be set up to fail. Now some teas you can get away without brewing tea in Gong Fu fashion, in fact some tea will benefit from ‘big teapot’ style brewing. Yunnan Whites for example. There are some however that you simply will not be able to experience the true potential of the tea without Gung Fu brewing at high temperatures. Namely Raw Pu Erh and Greener oolongs like Tie Guan Yin. A gaiwan isn’t expensive at only £5, you can even opt for a share cup if you’re feeling flush!
- Water! water is so, so, so important. You will be able to taste any impurities within the brew and it’s super important to filter it out. Water from the tap will most likely contain fluoride and other nasties that will hinder your experience, knocking out flavour and sweetness. You’re not always safe with mineral water either, you are at the mercy of whenever minerals are in the water that will also affect the flavour of your tea. It can be quite fun to experiment but starting off with a neutral water such as Britta filter is highly recommended by me. you’re not always safe with mineral water either, you’re at the mercy of whenever minerals are in the water that will also affect the flavour of your tea. It can be quite fun to experiment but starting off with a neutral water such as Britta filtered is highly recommended by me.
- Sample, sample, sample. Now it’s very tempting to rush out and buy full cakes or large amounts of tea before you try. Truth is that flavour preferences are very objective. Just because a tea has been recommended by many, is of good quality and from a reputable dealer does not mean that it will sit well with your palette. It’s always best practice to grab loads of samples and pick out of those the ones which truly deserve your time and pleasure.
- Buyer beware. Unfortunately things are not always as described in the tea world. There are no regulatory bodies or authorities keeping check on tea products in China which means that people can largely say what ever they want on the rapper of their teacake. Whether it be location, age of material or age, You need to be on your guard as purchasing Pu Erh tea in China and subsequently the West all comes down to reputation and the belief you have in the vendor because there is nothing else to go by. This may seem a very scary prospect in trying to purchase some of this lovely tea but stick with the right people and you should be largely unscathed. Decide to go off piste and you may come a cropper! Well, good for you that your in the right place 😉.
- Storage. If you read too much on the web you may come to the conclusion that natural storage is always a bad idea, this is not the case. It’s largely dependent on what your natural storage is. Example being if you live in and extremely dry and hot place your tea isn’t gonna have a very good time. The natural bacteria on the cake will at best be put in a very deep stasis or at worst die meaning your teacake will not evolve any further. With a very humid climate. Humidity must not exceed 70 RH as mould may set in and spoil your tea. humidity is one thing but an extremely important factor is keeping your tea away from smells, Pu Erh acts as a sponge, pulling in and holding all aromas from its environment. This means you must be extremely diligent to keep away all perfumes, cat litter, drying clothes, incense in the air, cooking smells away from your precious treasure. If you are going to create your own little pumidor you also need to remember the airflow is very important. Keeping your tea locked away inside something for too long will not bode well for it. Make sure to leave the container open for a little while once a week at least. Please remember that if you do have any questions we are always here to help. If you need any advice please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at The Tea Guru. If you need any advice please do not hesitate to get in touch with us, we’re here to help! 😊