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Wednesday, 01 February 2012

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Honest go God, nothing against tea or tea drinkers, but along about the time I read, "Pu erhs are designed for multiple infusions" my brain began screaming and tried to crawl out of my nose.

Interesting—I've never gotten into pu'er. About a year ago I started drinking tea in general, after reading A Hacker's Guide to Tea and realizing that I'd been doing it all wrong.

Do you have a preferred pu'er source? I've been getting most of my teas from the Chicago Tea Company—the linked post was written by its owner.

As Sting said on "Englishman in New York", I drink coffee, don't drink tea my freind.....or did he?

Greetings, Ed

And I just know you and Mike are having all the fun in the world with a ProX 1 right now, I just know it!

The town that produces this tea has changed name to Pu er but lately as they start to sell tea to Starbucks , ...

See economist.

Some interesting OT posts - tea is certainly interesting. I appreciate your earlier comment about washing away most of the caffeine and still getting a decent cuppa.

Might I suggest that with uncooked pu erh, you try a slightly lower water temperature, just off the boil and cooled for about a minute. Also pour the water very gently on to the tea. I find this tends to bring out a more subtle range of flavours.

"so smoky on the first pour it's like drinking a campfire" ... that gets me excited. I like lapsang suchong and have it every morning. I realize it's completely different, but I love smoky. I think I'm now on a slippery slope. Sigh.

Sat here drinking my supermarket own brand tea, in England, I can't help thinking that I'm the most broke reader on TOP

"Here's where financial madness can set in. You can acquire huge numbers of bings at individually reasonable prices. Before you know it, you have a substantial fortune tied up in dried camellia leaves"

This is too funny. Just take a look in my beer 'fridge or my scotch cabinet to see the effects of this madness. As with the tea, each individual purchase is reasonable, but the combined effect is something to behold. And I'm not very far along the path to hoarding.

Pu'er now offers coffee as well. See this week's The Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/21543580.
Adam

So, basically, you are saying that Pu erh teas are tiny compost heaps?

I drink a lot of puerh, mainly el cheapo stuff from Upton's. I enjoy it a lot, but I'm far from a connoisseur. As long as I can sink into a rich glass that smells and tastes like the forest floor, I'm happy.

"my brain began screaming and tried to crawl out of my nose"

John,
Why, do you object to the word "designed"? Would "intended" be better...or simply "used for"?

Mike the Ed.

"Just take a look in my beer 'fridge or my scotch cabinet to see the effects of this madness. As with the tea, each individual purchase is reasonable, but the combined effect is something to behold."

Ken,
Some people are this way with cameras, and/or lenses.

As for me, I try not to think of how much I've spent cumulatively for music, or books. If someone came up to me and presented me with all the books in my house and asked, "So, would you pay $35,000 for this lot?" I'd think he was crazy.

Mike

Why do I see this as a MaryJane substitute?

Here in China (hello from China) puer tea is widely considered to be top dog though a few years ago there was a scandal that this prized symbol of Chinese culture was actually being produced in Africa and sold in the country with fraudulent credentials. Back then you could spend the typical workers entire year salary on a quarter kilo brick of the tea, after the African issues and other problems with hoarders and speculators the price of the tea dropped like a rock. Now anyone can get a decent aged tea for an affordable price and it has become very common, in fact I may have a few bricks of it sitting in the back of some cupboard in my kitchen, people like to give it to each other as gifts, which get given again to other people because no one can drink all of it.

Given that I enjoy a cup of tea several times each day and my taste in scotch tends toward Laphroaig, I should investigate this further ... thanks, Ctein!

Sorry. I just don't go all that fancy. I just grab the old Twinings (Irish breakfast my favorite), give it a five minute brew, drop a little milk in, and drink up.

Can't help it if I'm such a plebian....

The thought of eating or drinking something from China scares the pants off of me. Unless the importer or the purveyor is extremely reputable my fears regarding the content would prevent me from enjoying it.

Cheers!

"...Honest go God, nothing against tea or tea drinkers, but along about the time I read, "Pu erhs are designed for multiple infusions" my brain began screaming and tried to crawl out of my nose."

My brain didn't scream, it just refused to process any more data coming in through the optical nerves. Pretty much went on strike.

I'll check back when my personal off-topic needs are being met: Politics, literature, biography, sci-fi movies! (and then, back to photography, please. :) )

" I'll check back when my personal off-topic needs are being met: Politics, literature, biography, sci-fi movies!"

That's a tough one. Maybe a review of "The Passion of Ayn Rand"?

Mike

I am for photography related topics ! thanks

You should come to Guangzhou and wander around its immense tea market. My girlfriend's father is a pu-er fanatic and still has some of his dad's leaves. We have never tried those, but we did get some well aged samples from her father and the tea was remarkably different - very light but flavourful.

Pu-Er is in a wonderful area of Yunnan.There is a great, and newly paved, highway, the 214 (turn onto 323), that runs to it from Dali. It's a hell of a bike ride but seeing terraces drop off for nearly 1000m is quite something.

Dear Mano,

That reminds me of a Xmas custom in the United States and United Kingdom of giving fruitcakes as holiday gifts. They're actually about the same size, color, and density as a pu erh brick. Far more people give fruitcakes than like them, so there is a running joke about the same fruitcakes being passed on year after year after year.

The important difference is the bricks that you folks are trading around are likely to improve with age; the same cannot be said of fruitcake.

~~~~~~

Dear jsel,

I get most of my pu erh from: Montréal—Cha Guan: La Maison du The—Daniel Ng (http://www.chaguan.ca/) . Daniel has done an excellent job of recommending pu erhs to me based solely on my descriptions of the other kind of teas I'm particularly fond of. Roy Fong of Imperial Tea Court (https://www.imperialtea.com/) is also particularly into pu erh and I would trust his judgment, although I haven't ordered from him personally (my friend Jon Singer thinks most highly of him). I really need to stop looking at his webpage; it is way too tempting.

~~~~~~

Dear xuereb,

Thank you for that suggestion. It might work especially well with that small bing I acquired from TeaSource (pictured above). I find the first two pours somewhat bitter for my taste, although I think it will age very well.


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
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-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
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I'd like to contribute a post. "The art of Beer."

Open a Becks, pour slowly at a 45 degree angle into your favorite glass and enjoy. That's it.

Dear MComfort and joanlvh,

Well, I am always willing to hear suggestions for topics, but I can only write about what I feel inspired to write about. Or competent to. I'm not likely to ever write anything about science fiction movies because my social world revolves around the fannish and professional science fiction universe. I know way too many people who can write rings around me in the fields of reviews and criticism. So, I don't even feel inclined to go there.

Off Topic goes wherever my fancy takes me. I can tell you the next one will feature The Return Of The Parrots! Beyond that, it's all whim. Though I do have one in mind about how I digitized my VHS collection which will both amuse and enrage readers.

I know, teasers. But what is life without a little… … antici…

…pation.

As for sticking exclusively to photographic topics, please don't even waste your time asking. The readers have been polled on this twice. 6 out of 7 have said they want me to write about whatever the heck I feel like. Only 1 in 7 wanted me to stick exclusively to photography (in contrast, 2 out of 7 specifically requested that I go off topic on occasion). Mike and I decided that about once a month was often enough for going off-topic. The truth is on average I haven't even done it that frequently, because I just keep finding too many interesting photographic topics to write about.

Anyway, that's the way of things and it is not likely to change until I run out of ideas.


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
======================================

Dear Ctein,

As someone who grew up in Seattle, and has an aunt that loved to drag me over kicking and screaming on Christmas I know the pain of fruitcake all too well.

However your right, that tea in the back of my cupboard has been there for a few years, so today i took some out and tried it. Still not my favorite but nice.

I used to think uncooked Pu'er was all bitter until I came across some quality one recently. They're so fragrant and sweet that I almost thought I'm having Iron-Buddha. And it still go pretty strong after 20 brews!

"though a few years ago there was a scandal that this prized symbol of Chinese culture was actually being produced in Africa"

The Chinese have bought large tracts of land in Africa that are now cultivated by Chinese agri-workers for export to China exclusively. Mu guess is that anything cultivated in Africa would have far less chances of being polluted.

Pu Erh and Lapsang Souchong!! Double yum! I've located a source for Yi Xing teapots, which don't cost an arm and a leg. Yes, once you move past Lipton and Tetley teas, you are definitely on a slippery slope.

With best regards.

Stephen

Hello from Yunnan! (I live in the capital, Kunming)

Hopefully I'll be going to Xishuangbanna (one of the main tea-growing regions) sometime in the next few months, and you can bet I'll be lugging home a suitcase full of cakes and bricks.

The evolution of pu'er is an interesting one. Traditional methods (e.g. hundreds of years old) are to *only* drink aged pu'er, shoucha (and almost always in cakes). In fact, the bricks were originally made to make transport more convenient along the old Tea Horse road from Yunnan up to Tibet, where tea was traded for salt, butter, and alkali. Bricks (often with holes in them to allow for stringing them together with rope) are much easier to transport in quantity than sacks of loose tea, which didn't survive the long ride well.

The idea of "cooked" (shucha) puer, and the drinking of "fresh" (shengcha) are recent innovations, dating to the communist takeover. In Hong Kong, where access to proper aged pu'er from Yunnan was suddenly cut off, tea brokers realized they could simulate the flavor of the aging process by cooking the tea (from Indonesia or India) to accelerate the fermentation. This isn't nearly as good as the real aged stuff, though. Accordingly, due to the shortage, the price of real pu'er skyrocketed.

When relations warmed in the 80s, and access to China was restored, the market for aged pu'er didn't rapidly deflate, as Yunnan brokers regained access to the international markets where the price was still high. This access to pu'er also opened opportunities for speculators-- they could buy fresh shengcha, which, being un-aged, commands a much lower price. They would then hold on to the cakes for a decade or so to age them, and then sell them at the higher price. Somewhere along the way in this process the idea of drinking the green stuff from the unaged cakes came into being.

Fortunately, the market has cooled slightly, and you can now get excellent aged pu'er at perfectly reasonable prices.

In truth, though, my favorite teas in Yunnan are the black teas. Strong, flowery, and gorgeous to look at. I'm actually hoping to go to the tea market today to stock back up.
Ctein, send me your address and I'll send you a few baggies.

i get my Pur-eh from some nice folks at : http://www.sevencups.com/

they go to China buying every year, and have some very nice teas. I like mine strong, so only get about 3 infusions out of mine; each morning it helps my brain to crawl back into my head! ;-)

I'd like to contribute a post. "The art of Beer."

Open a Becks, pour slowly.......

Can also be done with real beer!

I lived in Kunming and traveled all over Yunnan province for almost 2 years in 1996-97. I got a few assignments from a publisher in Bangkok who was doing a series of books on the minority cultures of China. These travels took me deep into the mountains (35 hours, and 3-4 bus transfers sometimes) where many incredible foods (bee larvae anyone?) and teas were had including many pu erh types. Alas, the Asian financial crisis hit soon after and the book project was cancelled. Nonetheless the memories linger. Amazing what you'll drink and eat AND enjoy when in an exotic or interesting environment. It opens you up to nuances that your own, more modern, more familiar environment, will not allow to come through somehow. Perhaps our senses are dulled by the mundane day-to-day. Drinking a cup of strong, astringent firewood-burnt, mushroomy tea sitting in a sterile/identical Starbucks on Chestnut Street in San Francisco is just not the same as doing so as the only white guy at a Muslim-Chinese banquet (it was sort of a group "bar mitzvah' of a sort) deep in the Yunnan mountains eating grilled lamb (literally sliced right off the open spit onto your plate) and highly-spiced and smokey eggplant around a open pit campfire in a small village square surrounded by hundreds of locals who seem so happy you are there.

Spent another 3 years in China but up in Beijing. Still amazing but not as interesting as Yunnan.

I love this stuff but pu-erh is an intimidating world to explore (for all the reasons pointed out in this article). I've been drinking some inexpensive cooked pu-erh that comes in little one-pot nest shapes called "toucha." So, I was delighted when someone opened a terrific tea shop in nearby Asheville, NC. I went in one day and ordered a pot of green pu-erh. It was delicious, so I bought the reasonably priced bing they were selling. I'm set for months. Now that I've read this, however, I think maybe I should go get another for the back of the cupboard.

Dear Ctein,

The best thing you can do is to continue to write about your passions and your areas of expertise, whatever they may be. Pay no heed to whiners like me. (off-topic is actually one of the things I love about this site. I guess I just can't grok /tea/! :) )

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