Tasting Pu-erh has a lot of similarities as wine testing. It needs our five senses to assess the quality and ensures the tea is in good condition. Normally, the first stage of tasting is looking at the brew and checking for clarity and color. General speaking, a good quality fresh Green/raw Pu-erh supposed to be clear yellow or orange, and a ripe/Black Pu-erh is from a range of dark red to black. An aged tea might be dark but clear.
The sense of smell is an important part of tasting. Smell and taste are closed linked together. The palate can only be confirmed and detected by the nose. A good tea should smell appealing. Any hint of mustiness or bad nose will tell you the tea is faulty and should be rejected. A well storaged aged Pu-erh should have a complexity of nut, wood, even flowery aromas.
Nevertheless, you should pay attention to the balance among several basic sensations. One of the first sensation you might notice is the sweetness. You should ask yourself how this sweetness is balanced with acidity, which is most critical for all good Pu-erh. A good balance between sweetness and acidity will manifests itself as mouth-watering sensation. It gives freshness in the mouth. On the other hand the sensation of dryness or harshness on the teeth, gum or tongue not necessary mean bad. It is a typical property for all young green Pu-erh cause by the high concentration of Tea-Polyphenal but it's a vital preservative enables the tea to keep for decades. As the aged tea matures and the Tea-Polyphenol will break down and becomes more soften and balanced. This will also add to an extra dimension to layers of flavor and making the tea all more interesting.
How to prepare Pu-erh Tea?
Step 1: Pry 3-5g tea off the cake/brick/tuo with Pu-erh knife and add tea leaves to a Yixing teapot or Gaiwan.
Step 2: Pour boiling water into the teapot, give the tea leaves a rinse for 5 - 10 seconds. Then draining the water out, leaving only the soaked tea leaves.
Step 3: Fill the teapot with boiling water again, cover the lid. After steeping 10-15 seconds (according to your desired strength), the tea can be poured into a tea pitcher to be served.
Step 4: repeat step 3 for 5 or 8 times. Gradually increase steeping time for subsequent brewing.
How to store your pu-erh tea
To make sure that your pu-erh storage is appropriate for your tea, the most importants are as follows:
- Avoid direct sunlight, preferably in a dark place
- Avoid other fragrances than the one from the pu-erh tea
- Keep a humidity level of 60% to 85%
- Maintain a proper air flow
- Avoid high fluctuation of temperature
Humidity and pu-erh
A certain level of humidity is needed to allow the tea to ferment properly. There is no need to be afraid of humidity level as high as 85% as long as there is a proper airflow to dry the tea and allow some dry period with a level of humidity inferior to 60% or so.
Why keep the bamboo leaves on bundles of beeng cha?
The bamboo leaves will help to protect the tea from the humidity because when the weather gets a little bit humid, the fiber from the bamboo leaves expand thus blocking the humidity.
Storing cooked and raw pu erh tea together?
It is possible to store cooked and raw pu erh together in the same room. It is also possible to store them by mixing them together so that the teas benefits from each other fragrances. However, Purists will always prefer to store raw pu erh away from cooked pu erh even storing pu erh tea from differents factories separately so that the characters of the tea are not mixed