Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A puerh class with 6 delicious teas

2018/2017 sheng gushu puerh
Many tea fans consider puerh a very rough tea that benefits a lot from being brewed in an unglazed clay teapot. With most puerhs this is certainly true, but puerh can also be one of the finest and most delicious tea if you select top quality leaves. And I proved it today with this class of 6 puerh we brewed in plain white porcelain competition sets! (Porcelain is neutral for the taste. It's used by professional tasters. It lets you see the color of the brew well.) In terms of methodology, I didn't use the Oolong standard of 3 grams and 6 minutes of brewing time. Since gushu puerh is made very powerful leaves, we used few leaves (see the plates). The brewing time was long, several minutes, but not measured with a stopwatch in order to keep things relaxed.
2018 gushu puerh
We started with 2 very young sheng gushu puerhs coming from the same 500 years old trees:
2. the spring 2017 cake
It was interesting to feel the energy of these teas and how the 2017 already feels much more tamed and mellow than the 2018. My student also found these teas amazing by the little quantity of leaves we used and the powerful brew they made. We used 2 ivory porcelain cups: the large ivory singing cup makes the brew look lighter than the flower shaped cup!
2006 (top). 2003 (below)
Next, we traveled 12-15 years back in time to taste 2 puerhs I have aged in my apartment since they were released:
3. the spring 2006 raw wild Lincang puerh,
4. the spring 2003 raw wild Yiwu puerh.
2003 wild raw puerh from Yiwu
The 2003 wild Yiwu is the tea that started my puerh education 15 years ago! It's nice to see and taste the evolution. There was an awkward time when the tea was 6 to 13 years old, not young, but not aged yet. Right now it's really gaining these aged wood and raw clay (?!) earthy aromas, while keeping most of its energy. The brew also  looks beautiful in the cups.
2003 wild raw puerh from Yiwu
 Since these teas come compressed, it's important to flake the leaves well and use strength with the first pour.
Antonio brewing
 The 2006 Lincang is 3 years younger. This explains the slightly more greenish color of the brew:
 The aromas of these 2 teas are also quite different because they come from 2 different regions in Yunnan.
2006 raw puerh from Lincang
 The next 2 teas transport us a little further in time:
5. The spring 1999 raw '7542' cake from Menghai Tea Factory,
6. The 2001 Xiaguan cooked melon puerh. (I used a little more leaves than the 7542, because cooked leaves loose a lot of their energy).
1999 '7542' raw puerh vs 2001 Xiaguan cooked puerh
 The 1999 spent most of its time in a puerh warehouse in Taiwan. Unlike my home, there's no air conditioning during summer in these warehouses. That and 4 more years of age explain why its brew is much darker than my 2003 Yiwu. 
1999 '7542' raw puerh vs 2001 Xiaguan cooked puerh
 The 2001 Xiaguan is even darker because it's a cooked puerh. But one can still see some transparency and brown shine, especially in the large cup:
2001 Xiaguan cooked puerh
 And the colors of both teas almost look the same if you pour the shu puerh in the large cup and the 1999 sheng puerh in the flower cup! (This shows that cup shape and glaze have a big impact on the color.)
2001 Xiaguan cooked puerh vs 1999 '7542' raw puerh
 Drinking these 2 puerhs side by side showed the similarities and differences in aged shu and sheng puerh. Both taste very tasty, but sheng has more energy and aftertaste. This shu puerh, though, is extremely smooth and soothing. The difference is also in the spent leaves: sheng leaves open up and turn brown, while shu leaves remain shriveled up and very dark.
 2001 Xiaguan cooked puerh vs 1999 '7542' raw puerh
On this cool day of October, these 6 amazing puerhs all felt very welcome and in harmony with the season. This class was a good reminder that if you want to learn tea well, it all starts with good leaves.


toni3d said...

Here the student!

I arrived on time and there was Stéphane with an smile and the 2 beautiful chaxi he prepared for the occasion. As always perfectly matching the class, the weather and the teas to try, with and Autumn mood. The class was astounding, not only because of the quality of the teas we tasted. There is a lot of misinformation when talking about puer and I had a great experience with all the trust Stéphane puts in everything he does.

I feel very luck to have had the chance. We tasted some wild young gushu puer, very powerful! I never had anything like that before, and several comparisons between different puer origins, most of them aged 15+ years, a luxury, including sheng and shou. Everything put together with Stéphane vast knowledge: all the historical facts, brewing tips and a lot of information about the teas we tried and puer in general. Totally worthy and looking forward the next one!

TeaMasters said...

Thank you for your account of the class and all the kind praise you have lavished on me. I also enjoyed teaching this class and tasting these teas with someone who didn't know them.