With Halloween coming, it may be time to find out how scary your tea is! Among the scariest teas, you should focus your attention on your puerh. PUUUHHH ERHHHhhhh, hum, that sounds scary already! I think that most of you will agree that puerhs are among the most mysterious and difficult to understand teas around. Also, some have such strong cha qi (and/or coffeine levels) that they give your brains such a kick that you spend sleepless nights wondering if a witch has 'hexed' you because you forgot to buy candies for the neighborhood kids last Halloween...
This weekend, I stumbled upon several wicked puerhs. Some were samples sent by a friendly reader of this blog and one was a 2006 puerh Teaparker brought back from Yunnan for his tasting project.
How do we find out if the tea is wicked and of low quality? Is there a 'tea ghostbusters' we can call? Or is there a list of forbidden teas that I could write down?
The problem with the list is that there are just too many puerhs out there. It's difficult to review them all. Also, they can change wrappers like evil spirits taking possession of a new body. All the horror movies will teach you that you can NOT trust the innocent and fair looking boy or girl. That's exactly the appearance Evil likes to take.
You could also ask for my advice, but both my broom and my magic carpet are currently assigned to their traditional, domestic functions and I have no way to come to your house before Halloween night. I'm very sorry.
Does it mean you shouldn't drink tea until the end of Halloween? Of course not! Now is the time to become your own tea ghostbuster! Let me tell you how:
- To spot a scary tea, stay away from garlic and other bad smells. You'll need your nose to spot the bad tea.
- Operate under day light or with strong lamps on. Evil hides under the cover of darkness. You'll need a keen eye too.
- Use white, porcelain teaware (a gaiwan and a big cup). The impure will appear with greater contrast then.
- Use a few grams of tea (2-3 grams) for a small, 10 cl gaiwan (or glazed teapot) and brew with just boiled water for 5 long minutes. Then empty the brew in the big white cup. Since we brew very long to force the bad spirits out, we don't need that much tea. Otherwise you risk having a really scary experience!
You are now ready for the 3 tea ghostbusting tests:
Watch the transparency and the color of the infusion. A haunted tea is rarely clear and clean. This weekend, we were disappointed to see that the 2006 Menghai 7542 was not really transparent. The good puerhs, on the other hand, will look shiny and cristal clear (a very good example is my 2003 Yi Wu raw wild bing, for those of you who have some on hand).
Either you smell the tea dircetly over the cup, or you use a porcelain spoon you plunge and take out of the tea, or you smell the lid of the gaiwan. Any really bad smell like Hell smoke? The devil has crap tobbaco taste as you may find out. Or do you smell something with a chemical fragrance that could be a pesticide or fertilizer? Or are there excess burning smells from poor drying?
In an epic fight of good vs bad, is the mellow, round taste overpowering the astringency and the harsher tastes. Is there a long aftertaste? Does your body react with a desire for more or a plea to spare your internal organs? Listen to your body. In the dark hour of the Halloween night, there is nobody else you can trust but yourself.