A Tea Addict's Journal

Cooked puerh!

April 13, 2008 · 5 Comments

I was fishing around in my box full of weird stuff, samples, leftovers, and that kind of thing, and among them I found this

If I remember correctly, this is a sample from Aaron Fisher. I cannot for the life of me remember what this is, but sniffing it (and trying to get past the Lapsang Souchong induced smokiness — there’s a bag of LS next to it) I think this is a cooked puerh. I don’t know where it’s from. The shape is odd — there’s a sort of cylindrical shape to the original piece, I think, and this is just a small chunk of it.

I brewed it… and yes, this is probably a cooked puerh, although, it might be one of those older ones where there’s a bit of raw tea mixed in? Or stored differently? I don’t know. It is definitely a very good cooked puerh — soft, but robust, with a tinge of youth in there somewhere. It also does something that most cooked teas don’t — lasts very long, which made me think this is not cooked after all, yet there are so many things in the taste that remind me of a cooked pu. I don’t know. I should label my tea.

The wet leaves, as you can see, are dark, but not pitch black. They remain somewhat flexible. Aaron, if you’re reading this, do you remember what it is? My bad for forgetting…

A word about my tea service these days:

Trying to forego the tray was a bit of a tough decision. I remember when I first started using the tray, I found it liberating, beause I felt like I could do whatever I want and get away with it. Now, however, I found not using the tray makes me more disciplined in my brewing, and also, as a side benefit, conserves a bit of water. The large bowl serves as a kensui for the waste water. I might get a real kensui to sub in or this bowl, which I think should see more useful service as something else (fruit bowl?). Then again, I’m pressing the pewter bowl into service — that was originally a fruit bowl as well. In fact, other than the yixing pot, I think the only other things that are intended for tea in this setup are the chataku (the pewter cup holder) and the tray in the bottom.

Incidentally, tea works just as well (if not better) as Pledge in buffing up dark wood.

Update: Aaron just told me that this is probably from a 500g tuo from the 80s, one of those cooked puerh where the process of fermentation was incomplete or lightly done, so that they taste sort of raw-ish in the midst of the mostly cooked flavours. I think this came up when I was telling him about how I’ve seen people selling some 80s tuo that are obviously cooked as raw tea, and thus this tuo came into the picture….

Interesting drink, and thanks for the sample 🙂

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5 responses so far ↓

  • mulcahyfeldman // April 13, 2008 at 8:29 am | Reply

    Thanks for the tip on tea as Pledge. That will come in handy. The tea service is very simple and pretty. The pewter bowl adds a nice, eclectic touch with the contrasting dark wood tray which becomes more noticeable because of the pewter I think. What brewing times did you use for the uncooked mystery tea? Eileen

  • mulcahyfeldman // April 13, 2008 at 8:31 am | Reply

    Sorry, cooked mystery tea. Also, your black teapot probably looks quite nice in the pewter bowl. ef

  • lewperin // April 13, 2008 at 11:32 am | Reply

    The wet leaves, as you can see, are dark, but not pitch black. They remain somewhat flexible.

    I’ve noticed that the hydrated leaves of cooked Pu’er, while never as robust as raw Pu’er leaves, fall into two categories:

    – flexible but flimsy;

    – stiff and maybe crumpled

    I wonder what manufacturing practices yield these different results.

  • MarshalN // April 13, 2008 at 12:04 pm | Reply

    Hi Lew,

    I think it has to do with the level of fermentation that the thing went through — whether it was bottom of the pile, full fermentation, or the lightly done stuff that remain flexible. On the one extreme, you have chatou — the stuff that are so hard they won’t even break apart. On the other hand you have the really lightly cooked stuff that are sort of greenish still, and some might say unsuccessful products…

    The Menghai cooked pu tend to have a mix of all these, because the blending that takes place is what really creates the flavour depth that Menghai cooked is generally known for. These things really run the gamut… and I think post-production storage also has something to do with it too, of course.

  • MarshalN // April 13, 2008 at 7:12 pm | Reply

    @mulcahyfeldman – 

    Methinks this is cooked tea that tastes slightly uncooked, rather than the other way around :). But generally… very short infusions, large amount of leaves, as is my SOP….

    I do like the pewter bowl a lot, for reasons unknown. I have a smaller ceramic one that I bought for this purpose, but it doesn’t work as well as it has little wriggle room for the pot, especially the bigger ones. This bowl can handle a fairly large pot.

    As for Pledge…. I think this is true, anyway. The tea seems to give the tray a shine, although there are some marks from the bowl when it gets really hot and now there are a few rings on the tray. Probably unavoidable as I use it on a daily basis…

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