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November Puerh Specials
2005 Raw/Ripe Zhongcha Tiepai, 357g cake
Perfectly stored creation, blending the complexities of wood, camphor, sweetness, and astringency. Deeply satisfying. Kunming humid stored. Regularly $50, special $38
2014 Jingmai Dragon Pearl, 8g raw
This aluminum-wrapped dragon pearl has benefited from three years of moderate stress and humidity here in its controlled Los Angeles conditions. This is the first in the dragon pearl selection that has developed the famed Dr Pepper taste. Regularly $3, special $2.50. More than 12 infusions.
Six Great Tea Mountain Lunar Series, 357g cake raw
The puerh from this company tends to be tippy and on the aggressive side. It does not possess the pugnacity that elicits existentialism upon the first pot, which is a good thing. Still, in-your-face florality and astringency express in that spring tea fashion that varies depending upon age and storage. One oz ’12 Dragon and ’09 Rat samples available, $8.
2012 Zhongcha 7581, 250g brick ripe
This is the most classic ripe puerh there is. Period. Clean storage and taste. Sweet, roasty, rich, a touch of breadiness and dried cherries. For those who remember Postum fondly. $25.
2010 Mao, Cultural Revolution Series, 250g brick ripe
This production is made from excellent raw material. It is sweet and thick and leaves the mouth zinging. As with all ripes very easy brewing. Regularly $25, now $15.
About Ripe and Raw Puerh
Puerh is a universe unto itself. Ripe puerh is a dark tea that has been transformed through the microbial breakdown that occurs through composting. This process is a highly guarded secret among producers and varies from factory to factory and tea master to tea master. Ripe puerh is more useful clinically for matters related to fat metabolism and gall bladder function. It’s a great digestive aid. Young, under three years, and poorly produced ripes are usually described as being “fishy.”
Raw puerh has earned the moniker “the champagne of tea,” though I’m sure oolong lovers might protest. The analogy is a shade too specific because puerh is characterized by its various regions, not just one. Those familiar with French wine terriors will quickly recognize the concept. Raw puerh is evaluated on a matrix consisting of age of production, fame of production, age of tea trees, and storage conditions. Productions before ’09 tended to be blended secret recipes. Thereafter, boutique productions featuring specific terrior ancient arbor have proliferated alongside recipes. Some young raws are undrinkable, and even ten years in can be gut-busters.
Like cigars and wine, storage conditions for puerh is a big deal. Kunming-stored tea is on the dryer, less mature side usually. Kunming wet-store might be the equivalent of Hong Kong/Guan Dong storage. The humidity is much more evident in the taste. Sometimes this comes through as a taste of stone and minerals. LA stored productions have been stressed under conditions ranging from 30c and 80% humidity to 13c and 35% humidity. The norm is between 17c-23c with 70% humidity, decidedly warmer and wetter than Kunming.
Brewing the two differs. Ripe puerh can be brewed in the typical fashion with infusion times of greater than two minutes. One recommendation is to place 10g of ripe puerh in a 16-20oz thermos and to drink throughout the day, adding some water about 1/2 way. Not all ripes hold up to this method. Raws must be brewed with considerably more attention, with infusion times starting at about 10s and adjusted according to age, density, and release of the production. Water temps for ripes don’t matter much. Some young recipe raws will taste better and brew thicker at a lower temp, with slightly longer infusion times.