Monday, September 21, 2009

Pengyou's Puer - 朋友的普洱

Quite a few friends consider me their "Chinese tea guy." Though I'll never feel worthy, that is a huge honor and I strive to live up to it. Because of this, friends (or friendly acquaintances) will often tell me about a random tea their friend bought them in China or Taiwan. They will say something like: "So my buddy just got back from {some amount of time} in Hong Kong (or Shanghai, or Taipei), and gave me some puer tea (or green tea, or oolong tea). I haven't tried it yet and the writing is all Chinese. I wouldn't even know where to begin. Would you like to try it with me sometime?"

I will always answer: "Sure! I'd love to."

This happened a little while back when my friend John brought in a couple of puer cakes to try. Later, when I decided to blog about our cupping, he was nice enough to email me these great looking photos that he had taken of one of the puer cakes.

The Cake

Before I go any further I should admit that I'm far from an expert on puer tea. In fact... all I really know is that I like to drink it and read about it. I've never been to Yunnan (雲南) so all of my knowledge is based on books (such as First Step to Chinese Pu-erh Tea by Chan Kam Pong), websites (such as and magazines (such as Art of Tea).

John's cakes were cooked (aka black, aka ripe, aka 熟/shu) puer. I read the Chinese printed on their wrapping paper, but that was pointless because it says the same thing in English as it does in Chinese. I noted the green "茶" stamped in a circle of eight "中." To my untrained eye, the wrappers revealed no other specific details about the tea inside them. We were not certain of their production years.

We cupped them on a quiet afternoon at Teacup. They presented dark, thick liquors. Some pours were a tad bit harsh but others were quite smooth. We didn't take notes and I don't remember too much about them now.

In the end I'd say the teas were drinkable but unremarkable... but that is not really what matters. The point is that I love to help my friends identify random samples of unknown teas. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes I am reminded how little I really know about tea.


Terry said...

Hi Brett,
I just wanted to say I enjoyed this post. Felt like a rainy day musing.
Good job.

Anonymous said...

How little you know about tea? That's because you're always thirsting for more. You probably really do know a lot, but like me, you've never had enough of tea. --Teaternity