Tips of Choosing Ripe Pu erh Tea and Quality Testing
Pu erh tea is always a mystery to beginners who do not know tea. Even tasting two different pu erh teas, beginners will not be able to tell the quality. With chaotic reviews all over internet nowadays, they are easily misled and confused on choosing a good quality pu erh tea. To find a good quality pu erh tea, we should basically do some homework for pu erh tea.
There are two main types of pu erh teas which are raw "sheng" pu erh and ripe "shu" pu erh tea. We previously talked about the difference between raw pu erh tea and ripe pu erh tea. Ripe pu erh is a pu erh being manually fermented to fasten fermentation time, but not raw pu erh tea.
Ripe pu erh tea is more suitable for beginners because the taste has no trace of bitterness, and is more likely to be acceptable. Raw pu erh tea is good for advanced drinkers, because only advanced tea drinkers can tell the charm of raw pu erh tea. I am truly believed that tasting raw pu erh tea is definitely a final destination of tea drinking.
Today we will talk about few tips for beginners before buying a pu erh tea. These are very basic information we want everyone to understand about buying pu erh tea.
10 Tips before Choosing a Good Ripe Pu erh Tea
- Buy pu erh tea within your affordability. Don't buy something too expensive.
- It is not easy to find a good and satisfied ripe pu erh tea. Store up some if you find any good value ripe pu erh tea. It will not take much space in your cabinet. It is very easy to store.
- Buy pu erh tea for yourself. Reviews or words from others are only for reference, you are the person drink the tea. Tasting note could be different to anyone. It is only the closest description to a tea. Don't listen to any overstated good or bad reviews, but take and refer to any descriptive reviews of tasting.
- Constantly improve the level of your tea steeping, especially temperature of steeping water, time and technique. The better quality tea requires better steeping preparation. Play around by adjusting amounts of water and leaves, and changing water temperature for tea prepare, although most tea shops share a common steeping guide.
- Don't care about the title of a pu erh tea, such as "wild", "ancient arbor", "old arbor" or "tea from which mountain" are most promoting words or name of a tea brand.
- Don't care too much about packaging. You are buying tea not packaging.
- Only good quality pu erh tea is worthy to store up.
- Good tea is based on good quality raw ingredients including natural flavor, purity and intensity of tea. The best flavor we are looking for from pu erh tea is the sweetness, not the bitter and dry taste.
- Don't buy tea at a place you are traveling where it specializes tea. Ten out of ten times you will overpay. Tourist guide will tell you a touching story about tea to upsell their overpriced tea.
- Compressed pu erh tea is better than loose form pu erh tea due to its smaller size and easiness of storage and the quality. The only winner of loose form pu erh tea is the convenience of preparation, and also it preserves the wholeness of tea leaves.
Why Compressed is Better than Loose Tea
Pu erh tea has the form of loose tea and compressed tea, old and new, raw tea and ripe tea from its appearance. There is also an option from light fermentation to heavy fermentation, of course they have different properties. These are the factors of differences of pu erh tea against its taste, efficacy and its price. According to the difference of shapes, ordinary pu erh tea is divided into Cake tea, Tuo tea, square tea, Brick tea and other several shapes. Any of these forms such as Brick, Cake or Tuo do not in themselves make a significant difference in the conversion. In the past years, compressed teas were mostly selected from higher quality raw ingredients. They were more delicate which was one of main factors effecting conversion quality, not the shape of tea.
According to previous standards of tea making, level one and two of tea ingredients were used for loose leaf pu erh tea, level three and up were used for compressed teas including Tuo tea, Cake tea, the topper level ingredients were used for brick tea. The higher-level ingredients are considered as better quality. But currently, all of these standards have been harassed.
Tips of Ripe Pu erh Tea Quality
Robust, thick, earthy are the features of ripe pu erh tea. Then what is taste of authentic fine quality pu erh tea? Superb quality pu erh are exceptional from here.
- Good quality ripe pu erh tea should have following signs:
- A pleasant aged note from hot steeped tea is noticeable when smell closely.
- Lasting aroma in the palate, maybe aged aroma, jujube aroma or lotus aroma and so on.
- Better quality pu erh teas not only have above signs, but also have thicker tea like a soup.
- Low quality pu erh tea
- Strong fishy note; generally, most newly made manual fermented ripe pu erh teas, especially Meng Hai teas have this note within a very few months, but this unpleasant note will eventually fade away three months after leaving its manufacturer.
- Musty note smelled like strong mildewed from old damp house in rainy southern humid regions. This note is normally from improperly wet-storage ripe pu erh tea.
- Watery and rusty taste; taste watery as if tasting tap water that has taste of rusted metal pipe. This note is caused by the fail of fermentation process and compressing skill.
- Odor smell; don't bother with it. It is not surprising that it could be found from some extremely low-price teas.