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23 October 2007 @ 04:46 pm
Benchmarking a good puer tea.  
Recently, I have met up with a local tea connoisseur to discuss how to benchmark a good puer tea.
For this forum discussion sake, I will try to list down a few points that the connoisuer had highlighted. You may agree or disagree, but please comment as I am trying to understand if the tea connoissuer are giving me the correct facts .
 
1) Comfort- a good tea should give a comfortable feeling when you drink it . The least comfortable feeling indicates the tea will have a heavy tanine acid content.

2) The Body of the tea - A good tea will have a full body feeling when the tea is consume.There is a saying that the body of the tea depends on the location of the tea is planted. The higher the altitude the more body the should have . this character could be explain by comparing a soup that was boiled for an hour compare to a soup that was boiled for  8hours.

3)Thickness of the liquor -  the thickness of the tea will mark the age of the tea tree.The older the tree the thicker of the tea liquor.

4) Lasting of the tea aroma and the sweetness of the tea.- a high grade tea will be able to have a longer lasting effect .the lower grade will have not much lasting power.there are instances that a good tea could last for an overnight after the consumption.

5) Smoothness of the tea- a good tea should be able to give a smooth feeling when drinking . a "rough" tea will give the throat a "dry" feeling.

6) Lightness of the tea. the higher quality the lighter the tea will be . There are cases that when a tea liquor will be like tasteless initially when being drank. However the aroma of the tea will then comes back from within . 
According to the connoisseur only a handful tea in the market will have this revolving effect . (Personally I have tried a tea like this which is the 70s yellow label). 

7) Purity - a good tea should not have much impurities taste. A single bud with two leafs should be preferred for a high quality tea.
The purest form a highest quality tea should be from a single hill and and its should be within an attitude of the hill.There is also another way of looking into this character. The more livelier the tea the lighter tea will be . an example is that all cook tea is dead and heavy.

8) The release the aroma of the tea.  A good tea will able to elope the whole mouth and the throat with its aroma. It is also one way to compare tea quality . For an example if you drink one tea after another, the better tea will dominates your taste and aroma in the mouth. You will starts to rejects the tea that is inferior.
 
Please add in comments to prove the theories given by this friend of mine are correct . Thanks. 
 
 
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marshaln on October 23rd, 2007 12:39 pm (UTC)
Most of these points apply to pretty much all teas out there, not just puerh. There isn't much argument there.

I do, however, have some issues with the "single hill" theory. I'm not at all sure that a "single hill" cake is a good idea, or any better than a blended one. In fact, many argue the opposite -- blended teas brew fuller, rounder, more interesting teas whereas single hill teas will have the characteristics of that one particular area, with all its advantages AND defects. When aged, some will say that these teas tend to become one-dimensional and boring.

Until I've had personal experience with, say, two cakes, one with single hill tea and one with the same single hill tea but blended in with some other stuff -- and then aged -- for comparison, I think I'll hedge my bets for now on that point.

Does this local tea guy you speak of sell tea? Does he, in fact, sell single hill teas, perhaps even ones he presses himself up in Yunnan?
thsu on October 23rd, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC)
blending
I guess is essential to have receipt for making good puerh. As Marshain pointed out. Single plantation / hill might yearn a single dimension product. If we apply the sample theory to a premium grand cru Bordeaux or Vintage 8582, blending is necessary for refinement.
marshaln on October 25th, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC)
Re: blending
Yeah, I've definitely had blended teas that are great.

Mind you, I have plenty of single hill stuff too. Some of them are great.

At the end of the day, it depends on what one's looking for, and what one's blending. There's no right or wrong on this one, I think. I just don't think it is definitely one way over another.
jackpong2jackpong2 on October 26th, 2007 01:10 am (UTC)
Tea master
This local that I spoke to is not a tea seller however he is reputable tea taster.Many reputable tea shops will invite him for tea tasting when they had new stocks to grade the quality of the tea. I personally went through one of his tea tasting ritual.
He was able to identify what quality does tea have and do not have by using the basic tea requirements that I had wrote in the blog.
hobbesoxon on October 23rd, 2007 12:58 pm (UTC)
I'm not certain about this one:

"A single bud with two leafs should be preferred for a high quality tea."

Tippy pu'er teas can, of course, be great - but they too can get a little one-dimensional over time, and can sometimes lack the punch and richness that bigger leaves can deliver. I'm often a little disappointed if I inspect a new tea to find that it's all tip-and-bud leaves without something to back it up.


Toodlepip,

Hobbes
jackpong2jackpong2 on October 26th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
Frankly I do agree with you to a certain extent on the one bud two leafs theory. I do have a tea which have more that 90% of one bud two leafs.
It tasted quite good initially but after two to three years the tea went quite flat and bland.
I am still experimenting on this theory as I had tea that have about 80% of one bud two leaves and they still taste good after three years.In fact they so far tastes better by the age. This tea does give the purity effect as well.The tea that I am refering to is the 2004 inner red label Soong Pin Hao.
hobbesoxon on October 23rd, 2007 01:07 pm (UTC)
Other aspects that I have come to identify with being decent indicators of "good pu'er" include:

- An "active" character, such that there is a bright, almost buzzing, effervescent sensation on the lips and tongue where the soup touches

- A certain very light oiliness, deposited on the lips, tongue, and inside of the cheeks

- The "yunxiang", or aroma associated with the aftertaste, which can sometimes be thick and pleasant, and evolve with the progress of the tea after swallowing

- Of course, the "huigan", in which the sweet flavour "returns" to the mouth - lower-quality teas can be entirely absent in this regard

- A certain level of acidity, particularly building near the back of the throat, that often provokes a decent huigan; the two seem causally linked to some degree

- Obviously, the straightforward "ku" bitterness associated with young shengpu that some believe is a vital part of aging potential, which I find disappointing if absent

- Some sort of balance between "high, light" characteristics (such as sweetness and floral aspects) and "low, bass" characteristics (such as tobacco, mushroom and woodiness); a tea without a good range can seem a little one-sided, and often leaves me unsatisfied

- Chaqi: always a bit nefarious, as it (I think) requires a certain degree of body-sensitivity to identify. A fantastic tea can have a highly active sensation on the body, well-documented elsewhere, which is a good indicator of quality (some say the best)

I'm sure the list will vary widely depending on whom you ask. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes
wisdom_sun on October 23rd, 2007 01:48 pm (UTC)
It depends...
... on what kind of Puerh you are benchmarking.

It would seem that these benchmarks are more suited to aged sheng. The profile of a young sheng would be quite different; one might even say that should a Puerh display some of these attributes when young, it probably would not age very well.

There are also techniques that can be used in production to imbue some of these attibutes in a Puerh, even when it is not a very good one overall. A good aged sheng Puerh displaying all of these attributes would be something to look for indeed.

I would add at least one other factor: liveliness. A comfy and smooth tea could become boring and flat unless it is complemented by liveliness. Liveliness implies a certain degree of structure -- the tea stands up to be noticed.
jackpong2jackpong2 on October 26th, 2007 01:20 am (UTC)
Re: It depends...
Oh Yes ,
I have miss out the liveniness of the tea which you had pointed out. The master had gave an example between an old aged sheng puer and an a shu(cook) puer. Both tea will have similarities however the old sheng puer will have life and the shu puer is as dead can be.
That is one of the reason an sheng puer price will be skyrocketing the older it gets but for the shu puer price could only rise occasionally.
thanks for the comment.