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Heath
Apr 29, 2008



Pu'erh is ripened by bacteria. It's lousy with it!

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Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

We just had a virtual tea goonmeet and I've got the trip report!

First, a big thanks to thread coolguys Irony.Or.Death, Sarrisan, CopperHound and disdisdis for showing up. We all brewed two different puers together, showed off our setups, and discussed (politely listened to me ramble about) TEA!

Today's sesh was all about sheng puer. We tried a 2003 Xiamen sheng and a 2020 jingmaishan sheng.

These 2 teas let us compare:
Aged vs. Young
Factory (Xiamen) vs. Small batch
Menghai vs. Jingmaishan area
20 - 200 yr trees vs. 600 - 800 yr trees

Main takeaways were:
Always have a glazed/ porcelain/ glass vessel for brewing. We need a way to benchmark teas and get a "naked" inspection of a tea's flavor.

Motivations for whether to use an unglazed (Yixing) pot vary, but generally I would use one for a more laid back sesh, or for teas you already know well. When you learn more about different clay's effects on different teas then you can start making more informed decisions about when and which to use. Some teas like aged oolong, very old puer, or aged white tea (teas with long steep times)- I would want a thick walled (+zisha) pot rather than anything thin walled like a porcelain gaiwan.

When do you do a first "wash the leaves" steep and dump? Always, unless you have a super premium tea/ have a reason to trust the cleanliness of your source. The alternative to washing is to overfill the first steep until the bubbles wash away. (Much easier in a pot than a gaiwan).

Yunnan is very big and the mountains are very remote. Gushu (ancient trees) only live there, and they are made into puer, red or white tea. These are my personal favorite teas and I believe all the hippy dippy stuff about deep roots, happy trees, and the medicinal benefits therein. "Terrace" tea cultivars like most oolong and red tea are made from are young and grown in unnatural fields. If you get ancient tree tea, it's either fake, a mix of real and fake, or expensive af. Look for the signs of the real thing: very comfortable sensation in tongue, mouth, back of throat, and esophagus. Cha Qi: this is Chinese medicine concept. Ancient tree tea will create a warmth (Qi) that you will feel moving outward from the center of your body. The last thing is cup smell. If you drink real gushu, the cup smell (and the aftertaste) will persist for a long time after drinking.

One thing I didn't mention in the chat about the Xiamen I brewed first- I did a long (20 minutes+) steep of it while we were brewing the Jingmai. It is delicious brewed strong like this!


And here's a shot of a longer steep of the Jingmai:

Heath
Apr 29, 2008



So you guys all order the same teas and compare?

neogeo0823
Jul 4, 2007

NO THAT'S NOT ME!!


Any good tea sales going on right now or in the near future that anyone knows about? Since it's getting warmer out, I'm looking for new samplers to try for iced teas and morning drinking.

Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

Heath posted:

So you guys all order the same teas and compare?

I sent everyone who emailed me samples from my personal stash. It looks like our tea chat will be a weekly event on Saturday evenings. Feel free to join us with whatever kind of tea you want to brew though. I think we'll do a TGY and a roasted high mountain oolong next time. teafriends@spiritwoodtea.com

Edit: another chat topic was how do you decide how many steeps you brew? For me I'd say it's never out of the ordinary to just steep it to oblivion and enjoy the super weak stuff at the tail end. But over the years I've come to favor some teas more than others for really going the distance. Oolongs usually not, but puer, white and red taste great to me weak.

The teas we steeped together had much more juice left in the leaves when the zoom ended. We did about 50% of a real sesh for each.

Death Vomit Wizard fucked around with this message at 05:52 on Mar 29, 2021

Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

Tea goons second Saturday sesh was a success! We tried 2 oolongs today: a Muzha Tieguanyin and a Charcoal roasted high mountain oolong.

We discussed
Electric roast vs Charcoal
TGY cultivar vs Qingxin
Low vs High elevation
1 year vs 3 year rest

Big thanks to everyone who made it (on very late notice!)
Here's a shot of the high mountain oolong:

TengenNewsEditor
Apr 2, 2004
H.I.M. Emperor Lyndon B. Johnson I

Gunder posted:

Yeah, I was advised to get a PuErh knife

LMAO

thotsky
Jun 7, 2005

hot to trot


I've heard some pretty knowledgeable people argue for some broken leaves and even fannings/dust in the mix when brewing pu-erh, to keep the initial steeps from being insipid.

Gunder
May 21, 2003

97.5 The Brodeo


thotsky posted:

I've heard some pretty knowledgeable people argue for some broken leaves and even fannings/dust in the mix when brewing pu-erh, to keep the initial steeps from being insipid.

I've found this to be true. Especially when brewing western style.

Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

I am guilty of speaking in absolutes about the "right" way to do this or that and I'll try to be mindful of that going forward. At the end of the day I just want to see more people enjoying puer and experimenting to find the tea and method that they enjoy best.

Tangent: Here in Taiwan the most famous kind of puer is "Red Label" (紅印), specifically the one from the 1950s. Whenever a new stash is discovered and sent to auction (imagine a giant clay jar with 100 cakes inside), they also collect all the tea dust that has fallen off the cakes and onto the floor of the jar. That dust gets sold at auction too, and that's what my puer guy has. It's amazing stuff, needless to say. Though you can only steep it about 10 times instead of 30 like the whole leave kind.

Lore Crimes
Jul 22, 2007



I usually drink green teas and having a bit of trouble trying out puer, have a cake I picked up in Hong Kong several years ago (not sure how I can identify at this point, it was a moderately priced recommendation from lock chaís shop which seems pretty well regarded) as well as some lose leaf house brand they recommended I use to get a hang of brewing. Perhaps the latter wouldnít have kept as well as the cake at this point. Both stored cool and dry.

Regardless, steeping either of them both at the time and now, either in a normal pot or zisha starting at like 10s after a first wash, both taste extremely strongly of like, peat or decaying leaves? Seems wrong as it doesnít taste like puer Iíve had brewed for me elsewhere. Color is like twice as dark as what I see ITT even if I brew only for the amount of time required to pour it in and then out. Water temp is boiled then switched to a separate vessel so prolly 205ish. Ratio of tea to water is ~1:15. Any tips?

Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

Inspect the spent leaves. Check if they are black and without any "life" (no elasticity, can't withstand tugging without breaking apart). This is a sign that it has been wet stored. Wet storage (above 80% humidity) breeds lots of nasty microbes and the resulting tea isn't fit for consumption. So much good tea has been destroyed by this strange practice. (It produces a taste popular amongst Hong Kongers.) Tea should be aged at 60-80% humidity. Lower than 60 won't hurt anything, the tea will just stop evolving.

The other possibility based on your description is that it's a particularly funky ripe puer. Ripe puers can be as dangerous as wet stored tea if not expertly processed. For this reason I avoid any ripe puer that's not made by one of the big puer factories. (Xiaguan and Dayi)

I realize the irony of saying all this one post after I said I shouldn't speak in absolutes, heh. But there is a wrong (and unhealthy!) way to age tea drat it. If there is one hill I'm willing to die on it is this.

Death Vomit Wizard fucked around with this message at 15:07 on Apr 5, 2021

Jhet
Jun 3, 2013


Death Vomit Wizard posted:

I realize the irony of saying all this one post after I said I shouldn't speak in absolutes, heh. But there is a wrong (and unhealthy!) way to age tea drat it. If there is one hill I'm willing to die on it is this.

This isnít a bad one to be absolute about. Storing it wet and warm will bread bacteria, yeast, and molds that can produce toxins and may cause food poisoning and worse. Food safety is good to be absolute about. Just think of how you basil looks if you store the leaves wet and in plastic. Thatís not fermentation, thatís decomposition.

mediaphage
Mar 22, 2007

Excuse me, pardon me, sheer perfection coming through


i bought some mate from the place i order my chiles from as they carry a lot of latin american foods. iíve never had it before.



i didnít realize it but this bag actually has guarana in the mix as well, which is probably whatís supplying the fruity note. iím not sure how often iíll drink it but itís tasty.

Heath
Apr 29, 2008





I like my matchas thicc

Lore Crimes
Jul 22, 2007



Death Vomit Wizard posted:

Inspect the spent leaves. Check if they are black and without any "life" (no elasticity, can't withstand tugging without breaking apart). This is a sign that it has been wet stored. Wet storage (above 80% humidity) breeds lots of nasty microbes and the resulting tea isn't fit for consumption. So much good tea has been destroyed by this strange practice. (It produces a taste popular amongst Hong Kongers.) Tea should be aged at 60-80% humidity. Lower than 60 won't hurt anything, the tea will just stop evolving.

The other possibility based on your description is that it's a particularly funky ripe puer. Ripe puers can be as dangerous as wet stored tea if not expertly processed. For this reason I avoid any ripe puer that's not made by one of the big puer factories. (Xiaguan and Dayi)

I realize the irony of saying all this one post after I said I shouldn't speak in absolutes, heh. But there is a wrong (and unhealthy!) way to age tea drat it. If there is one hill I'm willing to die on it is this.

Gave it another go as was curious after that info:

The loose stuff is marked simply puíerh and ďpremium yunnan.Ē While the cake is this, which other than Ďoldí Iíve got no clue:

I tried the loose tea again, same as described in previous post. The off-smell and taste may be closer to wet hay than peat. Lots of bitterness too. I could imagine someone liking it, re: Hong Kong and wet storage, but regardless of bacteria or whatever itís not for me so was kind of hoping it wasnít intrinsic. The spent-ish leaves after 3 rounds (not sure thatís spent as thatís around a minute total) ... not sure itís as described for wet stored. Itís certainly not hard to pull them apart but they do have some elasticity too:

Gunder
May 21, 2003

97.5 The Brodeo


Lore Crimes posted:

Lots of bitterness too. I could imagine someone liking it, re: Hong Kong and wet storage, but regardless of bacteria or whatever itís not for me so was kind of hoping it wasnít intrinsic.
It's definitely not intrinsic. I'm not a tea expert, but the ripe pu-erh I have has no bitterness at all, in fact, it's quite sweet. I think there's a lot of variation in pu-erh, cooked or otherwise. Some are fruity, some are sweet, a lot are earthy or mineral-heavy. If you like more intense or complex teas, you should be able to find a pu-erh that you'll enjoy.

Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

Lore Crimes posted:

Gave it another go as was curious after that info:

The loose stuff is marked simply puíerh and ďpremium yunnan.Ē While the cake is this, which other than Ďoldí Iíve got no clue:

I tried the loose tea again, same as described in previous post. The off-smell and taste may be closer to wet hay than peat. Lots of bitterness too. I could imagine someone liking it, re: Hong Kong and wet storage, but regardless of bacteria or whatever itís not for me so was kind of hoping it wasnít intrinsic. The spent-ish leaves after 3 rounds (not sure thatís spent as thatís around a minute total) ... not sure itís as described for wet stored. Itís certainly not hard to pull them apart but they do have some elasticity too

Wet hay is a classic puer taste, that sounds/looks like ripe to me. 1:15 is a bit high, especially when the first three steeps add up to 60 seconds. Stick with the boiling water but lower the leaf amount and steep time drastically. The thing about bitterness is you can always make the tea weaker and weaker until you find your tolerance level for a given tea. Then you "ride the bitter" as you brew each steep. I personally want to make each tea as strong as I can without the bitterness becoming too much and killing all the other flavors. But every new tea requires learning the right params.

The words on that wrapper are all poetic fluff. No names or info there. Tea quality could be great or the opposite for all I know.


Heath posted:



I like my matchas thicc

Holy mother-- that photo looks sooo amazing. I'm putting matcha on my list now. I probably need to explore mail order but now I'm wondering if it's in some shops in Taipei. There's a potery seller near me in Tainan that has some really nice bowls and whisks, but I've never actually seen matcha in Taiwan before.

Lore Crimes
Jul 22, 2007



Death Vomit Wizard posted:

Wet hay is a classic puer taste, that sounds/looks like ripe to me. 1:15 is a bit high, especially when the first three steeps add up to 60 seconds. Stick with the boiling water but lower the leaf amount and steep time drastically.

Classic in a positive sense or in the negative sense described in the previous post?

Will try those tweaks this evening though and see if itís more enjoyable, thanks.

Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

Puers that are more likely to have wet hay/ alfalfa, old books, earth, mushroom, etc. are:
1 very old raw
2 any ripe
3 wet storage or similar evil performed on raw or ripe

These tastes used to only come from 1. If you get to try a 50 year old puer you'll understand how good they can be.
2 was invented in the 70s and is, like I said, good if you stick to Dayi and the like. 3 I know less about.

Truck Stop Daddy
Apr 17, 2013


Muldoon

I have a traditional HK storage cake of sheng that I've been acclimatizing for a while. Smells like a library with water damage. I'm positive it will be delicious though.

I'll crack it open and have a taste later tonight

Lore Crimes
Jul 22, 2007



Death Vomit Wizard posted:

Puers that are more likely to have wet hay/ alfalfa, old books, earth, mushroom, etc. are:
1 very old raw
2 any ripe
3 wet storage or similar evil performed on raw or ripe

These tastes used to only come from 1. If you get to try a 50 year old puer you'll understand how good they can be.
2 was invented in the 70s and is, like I said, good if you stick to Dayi and the like. 3 I know less about.

Tried reducing steep times and using much more water. Definitely mellows out the hay taste and leads to something that could be alright for a change now and then, but doesnít let anything else shine through unfortunately.

Any other obtainable (online or in ny, if anyone happens to know a place) recommendations for getting a better idea of what puer is all about?

Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

I'd jump into something higher end like Farmer Leaf, White2Tea, or Crimson Lotus and focus on (dashu/gushu if possible) shengs of various age. Or I can help you find Dayi or Xizihao (囍字號) if you want the real top shelf poo poo.

But I am a gushu freak so my answer is very biased towards businesses I see as likely to be healthy tea from organic, big trees. Especially the Xizihao (craaazy expensive) and also the stuff I've already posted about here that I have a guy for. You can find some good stuff on Yunnan sourcing but they have no quality standards so their inventory is not the best benchmark for a newbie. The teas above are all legit. Mei Leaf puers I can't recommend based on some reports I've seen about too-good-to-be-true claims about a tea's provenance considering its low price tag.

Gunder
May 21, 2003

97.5 The Brodeo


Death Vomit Wizard posted:

Mei Leaf puers I can't recommend based on some reports I've seen about too-good-to-be-true claims about a tea's provenance considering its low price tag.

That's disappointing. I've loved everything I've been getting from Mei Leaf, especially as they take the time to give complete brewing instructions for each tea they sell, which has been really useful for me as a newbie. Also, their youtube channel has a lot of helpful info on it for learning stuff.

Reiterpallasch
Nov 3, 2010



Fun Shoe

a few years back they also shipped out some kinda hosed up stickers that a lot of people got mad about, which is not good, and then threw out the ol' "we apologize if you were offended" smokescreen, which is also not good, and then the publicity around the whole thing caused them to acquire new fans because of it, who are predictably some of the worst people on the whole internet

Heath
Apr 29, 2008



The right one is an ... Interesting choice, from a British tea seller, to depict a group of people not really known for tea

The left one just looks like a baby who loves tea unless there's something I'm not seeing?

Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

Gunder posted:

That's disappointing. I've loved everything I've been getting from Mei Leaf, especially as they take the time to give complete brewing instructions for each tea they sell, which has been really useful for me as a newbie. Also, their youtube channel has a lot of helpful info on it for learning stuff.

I don't doubt that, and I almost added a "although I'm sure they have some great stuff." But after observing the Western scene and the major players for the last few years, I think the other 3 companies I listed really stand out wrt their philosophy and standards.

Planet X
Dec 10, 2003

GOOD MORNING

I picked up some Jin Xuan milk oolong. I don't have a special teapot, just a french press I use for tea. Guy at the shop said about 180 for 3 minutes for the first steep.

I assume this is about right, and I can do longer steeps each time. I don't need to rinse it first or overthink this, right?

Planet X fucked around with this message at 01:34 on Apr 8, 2021

Heath
Apr 29, 2008



Milk oolongs are usually rolled pretty tight, so giving it a quick rinse to open up the leaves helps. Temperature matters more than anything, but it can get real drat milky if you oversteep it. Are you using a pot or a gaiwan?

Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

+1 on a quick rinse. You don't need to fill the French press up all the way for that, just enough water to cover them for a second.

Can't judge the steep time unless you know the weight of tea leaves. Also, that may be a good tea cold brewed.

Death Vomit Wizard fucked around with this message at 02:01 on Apr 8, 2021

Planet X
Dec 10, 2003

GOOD MORNING

Turned out fine, and it's fascinating how these little pellets have expanded into leaves

Why do I need to rinse, though? I did, but if the leaves are just going to expand in the vessel anyway, what does rinsing matter?

This is good tea, I'm on my third steep.

Heath
Apr 29, 2008



Rinsing allows the leaves to open and you'll get better surface area contact with the water on the first "real" steeping. You're effectively priming the leaves to begin their infusion. It's not gonna ruin the tea if you don't, but if you're really trying to dive deep into the flavor and want the full breadth of what it can offer on a "first" steeping, it may help.

Jhet
Jun 3, 2013


Rinsing also helps wash out any dirt and dust that makes it in via processing. Itís still a plant that grows outside, so do it for both reasons and your first real steep can be super lovely.

I also find I get a couple extra steps out of it when I rinse right and the first couple are more consistent. It only takes 10 seconds, so why not do it?

Heath
Apr 29, 2008



As far as dirt and poo poo is concerned I think it's more of a necessity with Puerhs since they're sitting in a pile on a warehouse floor for weeks before getting packed. I never rinse my Japanese greens. With oolongs it's less of a matter of getting it clean and more or getting it primed for steeping - most that I've had are not especially dirty to my eye.

Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

Part of making oolong is sun wilting, in which the leaves are scattered on the ground for a day or more. Sweaty sleep-deprived men then handle it for the many steps of production.

Gunder
May 21, 2003

97.5 The Brodeo


Death Vomit Wizard posted:

Sweaty sleep-deprived men then handle it for the many steps of production.

Extra flavour.

ulvir
Jan 2, 2005



with loose leaves I usually donít bother rinsing, but I do rinse with compressed and rolled teas, since the rinse is extremely low in flavour anyways

Lore Crimes
Jul 22, 2007



Death Vomit Wizard posted:

Farmer Leaf, White2Tea, or Crimson Lotus

Farmer leaf has pretty lucid explanations and sells 20g samples so Iíve gotten a selection from there to try out. Thanks. Hopefully e-packet shipping isnít still taking an eternity.

On another topic, anyone have a good non Amazon source for loose soba cha? Had some good stuff at a restaurant recently but the prices online for anything that looks somewhat legit seem ...high. Like you could import a really fancy sencha or middling gyokuro at the same price/weight.

neogeo0823
Jul 4, 2007

NO THAT'S NOT ME!!


Does anyone have any good recommendations for some samples of teas that would make good cold brews? I've got a nice oolong that I get from the local Asian grocer, but I'm looking to diversify a bit and have a few different flavors to pick from. I'm looking for lighter, summery, sweeter flavors that I can just toss in a gallon of water in the fridge for 24 hours and then drink.

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Death Vomit Wizard
May 8, 2006
Bottom Feeder

You have to find out yourself for each tea. I generally only use high mt oolong or green tea for cold brew, and some are better than others. Free floating leaves in a pitcher, then strain after 12 hours.

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