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18 October 2009 @ 11:36 pm
Young Raw (Green) Pu-erh Deserves More Recognition  
Most attention about Pu-erh tea has been paid to the aged Pu-erh.  There is a consensus in the Pu-erh community that Pu-erh tea is "the older it gets, the better it is." Don't get me wrong. I love aged Pu-erh because it possess qualities that no other teas can match. However, young raw Pu-erh should not be devalued either.

Unlike the old days, many young raw Pu-erhs manufactured today are made of premium leaves and from a single mountain. When brewed with lower temperature water and short brewing time, they are light, brisk, fresh and have very comfortable "Qi." Although young Pu-erh generally has more caffaine as compared to aged Pu-erh, it gives a good "pick-me-up" during the day. Young raw Pu-erh has features similar to green tea, except it is more flavorful, can last multiple brewing and richer in nutrients as they are made with the broad leave species. The old belief that "newly made raw Pu-erh tea is undrinkable" is only a fallacy.

Linda Louie
(Deleted comment)
walt_park on October 19th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
Marshaln has written some about this on his blog, that is to say that some sheng now is made to be drunk young.

I'm a glutton for punishment or something, as I tend to drink stuff that is too young too often. I agree that with lower temps and careful brewing, it's much less unpleasant, but it's also much less dynamic. Kinda like... watering down a tea.

But.. I have yet to try a cake that isn't somewhat better as it ages, so I think that saying "the older the better" is completely true. BTW, I'm curious as to why you think young has more caffeine than aged.

Also, I'll agree that some sheng's are not too bad to drink now.
theearnedarf on October 19th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
re: "Marshaln has written some about this on his blog, that is to say that some sheng now is made to be drunk young"

I think there's are two different things you are talking about here -- what marshaln is talking about is (I think) making something that's designed to *taste good* when young (which is the argument some people make about pu'er that's had extra, intentional, oxidation).

Then there's what Linda's saying, which is disagreeing with the conventional wisdom that it's always bad to drink young sheng (more from a health / TCM perspective than a taste one).

Of course, I'm always a little skeptical about taking advice from vendors, which very often seems to serve their sales agenda.
walt_park on October 19th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
I think you're right in the sense of tcm hot/cold being sometimes questionable, although... I must admit I drink alot less sheng when it's cold outside. I'm not sure if that's subconscious or what but for some reason I wander to shu's and oolongs when it gets colder.

I kinda thought Linda was talking about the conception that all sheng is good for is waiting for it to get old.

Rather than speculate or putting words where they don't belong, perhaps Linda can expand.
Linda Louiellouie on October 19th, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
Gald my entry generated such diverse opinions
I've read many Pu-erh books, many of which mentioned that young raw Pu-erh cannot be consumed. Many people in Yunnan (including an authority in Pu-erh) told me raw Pu-erh under 3-5 years is not considered Pu-erh tea. It should be classified as green tea. (The classification of Pu-erh tea is a whole different topic) I was very baffled at these questions and have spoken at length with my tea master about it. It was true that Pu-erh manufactured in the old days (several decades ago) cannot be consumed immediately because the tea factories mixed all grades of tea leaves together. The resulting tea was astringent, harsh and bitter. People then waited a few years for it to become smoother and mellower.
In addition to the harsh taste, Chinese people classify food in two categories (hot and cold, symbolizing the Yin and Yang equilibrium in one's body). Green tea or raw Pu-erh is considered "cold" side, which older people, females after child birth, and people with anemic are not suitable to drink. As such, most people in China (especially in the southern part) only drank aged Pu-erh. It was the high demand for aged Pu-erh that led to the invention of ripe Pu-erh in the mid-70's.

Well, Pu-erh has undergone major evolution in the past two decades--from a tea mainly consumed in Cantonese tea houses to a tea highly sought-after by tea connoisseurs. Time magazine recently wrote an article about Pu-erh tea may become China's next hot commodity. Tea factories are no longer state owned. A slew of new privately owned tea factories and vendors surfaced, creating keen competition. As a result, tea merchants began to go after raw materials made of certain types of trees, certain regions and the grades of the leaves. If you drink a raw Pu-erh made of a bud and two leaves, there is no reason (scientific or otherwise)that it cannot be drunk. The tea is essentially a green tea except for the difference in the species of the leaves (sinensis varietal vs. assamica varietal)and that Pu-erh tea is sun dried and it is not 100% dried (to allow fermentation to occur).

Whether one enjoys drinking raw or aged Pu-erh is a separate issue because it is really up to an individual's personal preference. My point is we should no longer say young raw Pu-erh is not drinkable because it is not objective nor scientific.

puerh_ytc on January 30th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Gald my entry generated such diverse opinions
I agree with your point.
Most old puerh drinkers here prefer Raw Puerh for its strong tea flavor,just as some people are used to take hard drinks.
The ripe puerh is better for new puerh drinker.

The difference between raw puerh and other green tea is that raw puerh is made from large tea leaf which only grows in south of Yunnan province.

Linda Louiellouie on January 31st, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
Re: Gald my entry generated such diverse opinions
In addition to the fact that Pu-erh is made with the broad leaf variety native to Yunnan, another difference between raw Pu-erh and green tea is that Pu-erh tea is sun dried (as opposed to oven dried) and it is not fried with high heat. Before the mao cha is compressed into cakes, the leaves are moistened again via a steamer. The moisture left in the leaves are crucial to facilitating the fermentation later on.
Linda Louiellouie on October 19th, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
Caffaine is part of the chemical compounds contained in tea, along with amino acid, catachin, flavonoid...etc. According to a study done by the Yunnan Pu-erh Research Institute, the amount of chemical compounds in Pu-erh tea (based on the water-soluable substance)after one year of aging is reduced by 8.2% on the average, although the amount of reduction varied among different grades of leaves. This change in the chemical compounds is the reason for why the aged Pu-erh gets less bitter/grassy and more smooth over time. Let me qualify that I am not a scientist nor a doctor, I obtained my information from a laboratory study provided to me by professor at the Yunnan University of Agriculture, Pu-erh College. If you can read Chinese, I'd be more than happy to provide you a copy.
walt_park on October 20th, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
The logic is flawed though. It would be the equivalent of saying the school bus left with 50 children. By the 3rd stop 10 had gotten off. We know your child left the school on that bus, so there must be 20% less of your child.

Caffeine content is pretty easy to measure directly, and I recall having to do it in undergrad analytic chem. Also, caffeine is pretty shelf stable. It's decomposition biologically requires a demethylase enzyme and biological energy (NADH) which I do not think is met inside the dry leaf as most biological activity occurs on the surface.

Anecdotally, aged puerh... does not seem like it lacks any kick, esp at an 8.x% loss per year as suggested by your numbers.

Obviously.. something happens to tea as it ages. But I'm not convinced that tea tastes better as it ages because the caffeine is breaking down.
walt_park on October 20th, 2009 02:59 pm (UTC)
BTW, I'm in no way saying dont drink young sheng, as that would as I've already said, make me a hypocrite.
I do think there are some young shengs that are not too bad now.
Linda Louiellouie on October 20th, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
This spring I brought home some early spring mao cha from a tea farmer in Yiwu and it was the most delicious sheng Pu-erh I have ever tasted. While not all sheng Pu-erh are good tasting, I'm sure, not all are bad either.
puerh_ytc on January 30th, 2010 02:51 pm (UTC)
I think Lao banzhang is the best one in raw puerh,and if you need to collect some good mao cha,you have to prepare to go there before march.

The spring tea in 2010 will be less than the one produced in last years,coz during the time from Dec 2009 to Feb 2010,it is fewer rainfall here.
Linda Louiellouie on January 31st, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
I bought a small supply from a farmer in Lao Banzhang last year. It was delicious. The thing about Loa Banzhang tea is that it is so hard to get the real stuff. Most of the so-called Lao Banzhang teas are mixed with those from the nearby mountains because demand for this tea is so high and the supply is limited. Last year, the farmer told me Lao Banzhang mao cha is asking for $500MB, but the teas from other areas are only asking for 1/10 of the price.
puerh_ytc on February 6th, 2010 05:27 am (UTC)
In this year,price of lao banzhang is more than 500RMB/kg,but it is hard to get now,most the farmers also dont want to sell it to the one got no business with them before,some new seller have to find a native there to establish a friend relationship with the farmers in advance,that is hard and long procession to get real lao banzhang material.

Another type of Banzhang tea named Xin Banzhang,which is another country 5km far away from Laobanzhang,tea produced there is lower quality than lao banzhang,but higher output,many tea sellers sell xin banzhang by the name of Lao banzhang with a very lower cost.

Lao banzhang is a very precious and costy materials,if you want to get them,meet a very reliable seller is the first point.

Linda Louiellouie on February 6th, 2010 09:30 am (UTC)
I know many established tea vendors cannot afford to buy the mao cha from Lao Banzhang. $500RMB per kilo does not even include shipping, compressing, and wrapping cost. After you add up these cost, a tea cake will cost at least $100USD. Two years ago, a new factory called Chen Shang pretty much monopolized the teas from Lao Banzhang. We managed to "smuggle" a few kilos down the mountain and made cakes for ourselves. I have not yet tried the cake due to sentimental reasons. I have been enjoying the loose leave I brought back last year and it is very good.

Linda Louie
Bana Tea Co.
puerh_ytc on February 7th, 2010 05:54 am (UTC)
no monopolizy in tea business
Hi Linda,

That is true a factory from Shenzhen monopolized the lao banzhang supplement,but if you get to the village yourself,you can still get it,it is not smuggle,but need you pay more than the one who monopolizes it.

And it is true that in the market of China,the real laobanzhang(the finished puerh cake with package)has a high price,from $100-$200.
But there are still many good teas such as tea from wuliangshan and jingmai shan.
Linda Louiellouie on February 17th, 2010 06:39 am (UTC)
Re: no monopolizy in tea business
I will be visiting Jingmai Shan in April. Jingmai has very high quality Pu-erh teas and they are not cheap either. I'll tell you about my visit when I come back.
Linda Louiellouie on October 20th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
You got a point. Thanks for pointing out that my deduction/assumption from the study I read was incorrect. I am always curious if caffaine content will dissipate over time. Do you know?
yatea on October 22nd, 2009 06:32 am (UTC)
>The old belief that "newly made raw Pu-erh tea is undrinkable" is only a fallacy.

newly made raw Pu-erh tea is undrinkable is true...when the Pu-erh is made with old fashion method...often to bitter and pungent.
In last few year, the new production standard produced a Pu-erh that is less pungent and lighter which not suitable to be long termed stored.
Linda Louiellouie on October 22nd, 2009 07:46 am (UTC)
That's exactly my point. May be what I should have said is the old belief that newly made raw Pu-erh is undrinkable is no longer the case.
jackpong2jackpong2 on October 22nd, 2009 09:19 am (UTC)
Difference between "Old days young puers and present young puers .
These are my two cents comments.
As far as I understand, the old methods of processing of puer is all different from the present day methods.....of course by adding in new technology, the methods of processing puer now is far more advance and scientific compare to the olden days methods. It is not bcos of that there are no mixing of the tea leaves..... For your information Xia Guan and Meng Hai are infact most of the biggest factories in Yunnan does mix their tea leaves even till today. of course there are some factory that does produce single hill puer tea as well....but then it will more expensive than the more commonly ones.

let me explain further, during the the 1940s right up to the early 60s,,,,,,, most of the raw material puer teas within a province or village are producing its own label tea......thats why we have labels like Sung Pin Hao and many others. However,I was told that the red label was produce within some the villages/states within the province like Kunming Red Label in the 50s.The red label tea leaves were a combination of some villages within Kunming.. therefore this may be first mixing of tea leaves from difference parts of the province. Thats why the iron cake of 50s red label is still so strong in aroma even it is more than 50 years old.

However I would have to admit that the demand for more higher quality puer tea is now very noticeable in the market. There are some consumers that willing to pay a high price for a good quality puer.
tea. Mao Cha 毛茶 is one of the tea that is a single hill tea which have a very pleasant aroma and nice to drink.
Thats is reason why now we have specific hill puer produce for this range of consumers. I would predict that in next two to three decades there will no more 20 % of the mixed tea leaves product left in the market.

On the other hand what about the mass production stuff whereas the tea leaves are harvest in a mass quantity........like xia guan producing their Toh Cha ( which is still bitter and hard to dring when it is young). I think they will still produce these teas but then they will be the teas use by the commoners.

jeffoman on October 25th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
Drink Those Young Shengs!
I have been amazed by how good the shengcha I have been drinking is. After much experimentation I finnally have it down.

At first I couldn't understand why someone would subject themselves to it. It was bitter and overwhelmingly stimulating. Then I lowered the temperature (sometimes down to as low as 160F), started keeping the weight around 10g after getting a scale, and switching to a pot of about 250ml. A scale is important, as you can see when you weigh different cakes. That and temperature really made all the difference, however my brewing intuition is building and I find myself relying less and less on clocks and scales and milliliters.

Now I've tried cakes from places like Yiwu, Jing Mai, Jinggu, and an excellent Mengku Chun Jian from 2005. The Mengku is the oldest. Most of these are stone pressed (which I very much prefer), some from very specific places on the mountains. They could even be described as single-estate. I haven't had to spend a fortune for any one of my cakes and they have all (well most) provided me with the best tea experiences I have ever had. Sometimes I go to the eBay auction and just pick a cake that looks interesting, but about which I know almost nothing, and get a great surprise for almost nothing.

I sit and smell the cup after drinking. It's a fine perfume that last for many minutes. The spent leaves in the pot are beautiful and HUGE. From unwrapping the cakes to inhaling the scent from the last cup, to poking through those lovely spent leaves, shengcha is really starting to bring me a lot of tea joy. Sounds corny but there it is.

Well, anyway, isn't that the point?

Jeff Oman(been away for a while)
Linda Louiellouie on October 25th, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Drink Those Young Shengs!
I am glad you have found sheng Pu-erh very enjoyable. The beauty of sheng Pu-erh is you don't need to spend a fortune or wait 10 years to drink your tea. As you said, brewing technique is important. The only way to perfect it is by experimenting. There is nothing more satisfying than getting the brewing technique down and sucessfully brewing a cup of tea that brings out the best characters of a given tea.
jeffoman on October 25th, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Drink Those Young Shengs!
At first I had no comprehesion of how to brew shengs and had bad results by following the instructions of others. Too many different instructions!
Then I just realized I had to use my expierence with greens and wu-longs, taking into account some of the differences metioned above.

I'm not sure how to brew a specific cake until I've done it once or twice using using a baseline sort of technique and some knowledge of it's provenence. That's where my scale and thermometer come in. The most basic thing I'm looking for is bitterness and it's strenghth and adjusting weight, time, and temp, based on that.

Then it's a sort of wu-wei of tea. I find myself just doing it and worrying less about measurments. I'm happy with the results.

I've also found a few friends (even dealers!) from China willing to share their enthusiasm as well as their knowlege.

Thank you!

jeffoman on October 26th, 2009 02:36 am (UTC)
Caffeine and pu-erh
Reading above I see caffeine content mentioned. Caffeine is VERY water soluble. Being that we rinse teas as many as two times with boiling water a lot of the caffeine is going to go down the sink. The stimulating quality of pu-erhs seems, purely from my subjective experience, to come from a combination of factors. It can't just be caffeine, it seems to me, because of the rinsing, plus the as many as 10 infusions, and it just doesn't feel like caffeine alone. The stimuting effect from pu-erhs seems more complex that the shot in the arm just caffeine seems to give.

As far as it being stable, who knows what's really going inside a cake (any cake) of pu-erh. It's alive with bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and the auto-oxidation that goes on in such an environment. Pu-erh is alive! I think that's one of the things that makes it so interesting and compelling. Who really knows what all those critters are doing? I'm not sure I really care all that much to know. It just sure can taste good.

Jeff Oman
Linda Louiellouie on October 26th, 2009 06:10 am (UTC)
Re: Caffeine and pu-erh
You're so right. Pu-erh is a living tea and is constantly changing. We need to nurture it and learn how to bring out its best. I can understand why so many people in Asia are so crazy/obsessed with it.

I agree. For people who have low tolerance of caffaine, Pu-erh is a good choice of tea because the same leaves can be brewed over and over, thus minimizing the amount of caffaine intake.
cloudsteacloudstea on October 26th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Young Raw (Green) Pu-erh Deserves More Recognition (~~Agreed~~)
I wrote the notes last year and just translated it. It seems that it is a relevant comment to this thread, so I just put it here.


The Puerh tea lover, M, raised a question, "Is aged Puerh a must?"

Cloud replied, "In the old days, people would only accept aged Puerh tea in Hong Kong tea market. However, nowadays, aged Puerh tea and young Puerh tea have their own market with their own fans respectively. Therefore, when people are talking about Puerh tea, he/she may be talking about young Puerh tea cakes within 2 years, or over 10 years aged old Puerh tea cakes or even well aged Puerh vintages and antiques. Although all of them were from different eras, they are all Puerh tea we are referring to."

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Aged Puerh - how old is it?

Aged Puerh and Young Puerh are relative concepts. Generally speaking, they are the words used by people when comparing Puerh tea from different ages. For example, whether the Early 1990's 7542 Raw Tea Cake is aged tea or young tea depends on with what tea it is comparing.

By comparing the 1970's Small Yellow Mark Seven-son Tea Cake with the Early 1990's 7542 Raw Tea Cake, the latter one is a relatively young tea cake, at least, not being at its peak of appreciation. However, if the Early 1990's 7542 Raw Tea Cake compares to Millennium Puerh Tea Cakes, the 1990's one is a relatively old enough tea for drinking.

Certainly, similar comparison can be applied to Antique Puerh Vintages and Masterpiece Puerh Vintages. However, there is a common market acknowledgement of the age range of aged tea cakes. Generally speaking, aged Puerh vintages are normally over 30 years of age (no matter what tea it is comparing to). In order to differentiate between aged Puerh vintages and young Puerh tea in Chinese, some Chinese tea lovers would name the 10 to 30 years Puerh tea cake as Old Tea.

Thus, in Chinese, we have these special terms:-

  • Aged Puerh Vintage - 30 years of age or above
  • Old Puerh - 10 to 30 years of age
  • Young Puerh - less than 10 years of age

cloudsteacloudstea on October 26th, 2009 04:16 pm (UTC)
...Posting Continued
Certainly, to some novices, the 10 years aged old tea is already their precious tea. However, the degree of preciousness is only limited to his personal collection. That 10 years aged old tea is still a quite young tea comparing to other available old teas in the market.

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Is Aged Puerh A Must?

Back to the thread, "Is Aged Puerh A Must?"

In fact, there is no absolute model answer. Cloud is of the view that when one is trying to appreciate Puerh tea, some newly made young Puerh tea is quite unique and attractive. Aged tea, sometimes, is not a must. Of couse, when young Puerh tea ages into old tea, it will offer attractive, mellow, amazing and gorgeous aged aroma and flavor, which is very fascinating. If these aged teas are affordable to you, well aged Puerh old tea can bring you quite a lot of fun and enjoyment. Cloud loves aged tea, especially those from 1970's and 1980's. The taste and flavor of these aged tea will let you have a comfortable sensation as long as they are old enough. The astringency from the young Puerh tea will fade out generally through time. The only drawback is expensive. However, on the other hand, young tea has its appreciation uniqueness such as their freshness and certainly degree of astringency, which cannot be found on aged tea.

Anyway, as long as tea lovers are choosing their own tea according to their preferences and flavors (not necessarily expensive), they are drinking their personal good tea. Therefore, aged Puerh is not a must.

29 December 2008 wrote in Chinese
26 October 2009 translated into English
Cloud (Hong Kong)

Cloud's Tea Diary
Cloud's Tea Collection - Private Tea Album


Linda Louiellouie on November 1st, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
Re: ...Posting Continued
Well said. I had the fortune recently to drink a 40 year old aged Pu-erh with a frind from Yunnan. It was a real treat. The hui-gan was amazing. The sense of relaxation and well-being after consumption was enormous. My friend told me her tea is worth $30,000RMB (over USD$4,000)per 100g. This kind of tea is so unaffordable, that very few people can afford. All I can say is that aged Pu-erh is a treat, a luxury. For every day enjoyment, young raw Pu-erh will do just fine, so long as it is made of good quality mao cha.
jeffoman on October 26th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
It's not so much should you but can you.
I would love to drink aged pu-erhs. I would love to even try a pu-erh over 10 years old, but I can't. The price leaves me, and a very large group of tea drinkers, out of luck.

I think everyone would like to drink aged pu-erh but they are in the same boat. The point is they have very reasonable, and very delicious, options in the younger teas and many of the shouchas. And I'll bet the younger teas are going to keep getting better. Especially if the dealers and manufacturers make sure some of the money they make gets to the growers and harvesters.

I still would really love to try some of that tea from the 70's and 80's though.

puerh_ytc: pu-erhpuerh_ytc on February 6th, 2010 07:09 am (UTC)
Re: It's not so much should you but can you.
Nice materials puerh with good mix tech are too much in the market,we can still find out good taste one in this group,it is not necessary to collect aged one,many types of new cooked puerh with just 1-3 years time are also good flavor and mouthfeeling.

The delicious of puerh is from the drinker's mental state not from tea.

The tea is just a way to let us happy,not our aim.
So,dont have to pay too much attention to the real aged tea.

Puerh Tea is just a beverage,not a tired shopping.
jeffoman on October 28th, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)
A Great Young Sheng
I don't know if it's appropriate to mention specific retailers but this tea is so good I think you'll thank me:


It's from Yunnan Sourcing on eBay described as:
2007 Yuan Nian * Yi Wu Mountain * Pu-erh tea cake 357g
Yi Wu Mountain Fall 2007 tea * Stone-Pressed!

I only have about a bit less than a year pu-erh experience but this is one of the best teas I've tasted in any category: green, wu-long, white, etc...
And the price is great at $10.00. Snatch this one up before it goes higher. Wish I could.

Any one else out there that can point us to some tasty young shengs?
How about we keep them reasonably priced too.
Let do some tasting then talk!

Jeff Oman
jasonwitt on October 29th, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC)
No More Aged Puerh for Me
Personally, I'm such a convert to the young, raw Puerh that I don't even want to drink the aged stuff anymore. If it's a gift or a sample, then I can go for it. But I will no longer buy any aged or ripe, cooked Puerh. I might be unusual for this preference but I just don't need the fancy, expensive stuff. --Spirituality of Tea
jeffoman on October 29th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
Re: No More Aged Puerh for Me
Hi Jason.
Didn't know you lived in St.Paul.
I'm from Minneapolis.
Maybe sometime we could meet and share new tea finds(It's lonely drinking tea by yourself)?
I can't afford the expensive fancy stuff but it hasn't stopped me either.

I always tip my cup to the rest of the universe before I sip as well.

jasonwitt on October 29th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC)
Re: No More Aged Puerh for Me
yes, you can email me at puerhguy @ jasonwitt.org or else give me your email address and I'll get in touch with you. As long as you prefer Puerh we'll have a good time together.
jeffoman on October 29th, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
Re: No More Aged Puerh for Me
More like obsessed or possessed.

I don't know what happened, but since I started drinking pu-erh my other teas have lanquished in their cupboard.

Maybe all those fast living organisms in the tea responded to evolutionary opportunities to take us over.

jasonwitt on October 29th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
Re: No More Aged Puerh for Me
Yeah, I was just telling a guy this morning about it. I'm obsessed also. I actually have anxiety if I try to drink another tea than Puerh for more than about half a day. A whole day would be an accomplishment to get through without feeling sorrows that lead me back to the Puerh. --Spirituality of Tea