Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

Tag: puerh (Page 1 of 3)

Rethinking Tea Categories

Editor’s Note: This is merely a thought exercise by the author. The opinions reflected in the below narrative do not reflect the opinions of the teaware on staff . . . or this editor, for that matter.

Seriously, I just work here, guys.

A thought occurred to me over the years. No one has come to a clear consensus as to what the proper tea categories are. The general consensus is that there are six: Heicha (Dark Tea), Hong Cha (Black/Red Tea), Wulong, Green Tea, Yellow Tea, and White Tea. However, some say that yellow tea isn’t its own category (even though it clearly is). Others champion the stance that dark tea shouldn’t include sheng (raw) puerh. Others still believe puerh should be its own category. Hell, even some international trade laws only recognize two tea categories.

So, this got me thinking . . .

If I were the end-all/say-all authority on tea lexicography, how would I divvy up the different tea types? What would my breakdown look like? Well, in order to answer that question, I must breakdown (and in some cases, outright destroy) existing trends. This might over-complicate the issue, and over-simplify other things. But this is my write-up . . . and I’ll do what I want. So, here we go:

*dons helmet*

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Putting “Tea: A User’s Guide” to Good Use

In May of 2013, I finally met this tea-bro in person.

Tony Gebely—award-winning tea blogger, tea business insider, and all-around nice guy. When we first met, we did what any self-respecting tea people would do on first impression. We drank beer.

While we were downing pints, he mentioned he was working on a book, and ran the title by me. He wanted to call it: Tea: A User’s Guide. I told him I dug it, and that he should keep me posted on its release.

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Puerh . . . After a Fashion

Shou (or cooked/ripe) puerh is difficult to market. Hell, puerh in general is difficult to spin. How do you convince people that something that’s fermented is something they want? Fermented leaves, no less; in cake form.

puerh-cake-chunk

The conundrum gets even hairier once you try to explain to people what the “cooking” process even is. Example: “Oh yeah, and over here we have some shou puerh—sometimes called cooked puerh. Not to be confused with raw puerh, which ages naturally. Unlike that stuff, wet leaves are composted by piling them together in a hot roo— . . . hey, where are you going?”

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Cooked “Puerh” from Laos

LaosTea—a wholesaler of heicha from Laos—had a booth at World Tea Expo again this last summer.

laos-tea-at-world-tea-expo

Image mooched from LaosTea’s Instagram.

And I didn’t visit it once.

In my mind, I kept saying, Eh, I’ve already tried everything they have to offer.

What I should’ve been thinking was, I really need to solidify some of my vendor networking contacts!

Hindsight and all that.

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Dark Tea from Burma/Myanmar

No one likes to talking about Burma . . . or Myanmar . . . or whatever it’s calling itself, now.

Photo by David Blackwell.

Photo by David Blackwell.

Even the name of the country is a hotly contested issue. At college parties, whenever some Eastern Philosophy major brought up Buddhism as an example of a nonviolent religion, all someone had to do was say, “Myanmar.” Or Burma. Or whatever!

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Mengku Puerh Plastered

A couple of weeks ago, while attending the Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle, a few tea connoisseurs hosted . . . after tea parties.

two-mengku-puerh

Basically tea parties removed from the regular events of the festival. One such small partyholder-to-be was my ol’ Agarwood puerh dealer, Jeffrey McIntosh. He planned to host two puerh tastings—one that Saturday night and one that Sunday.

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Agarwood Puerh, and the Tale of Two J(G)e(o)ffreys

At the 2012 Northwest Tea Festival, I met this guy.

Jeffrey McIntosh

The man in my crappy photo is Jeffrey McIntosh. Granted, his version of spelling “Geoffrey” is not the original—as mine is—but no one is perfect. However, he does hold the distinct honor of being one of the first people (younger than me) to blow my mind. During a talk he gave at the festival, he mentioned that puerh teas all came from different cultivars from one tea tree variety—the Camellia sinensis var. assamica.

Okay, for the very well-educated tea geek, that’s not exactly earth-shattering news. But four years ago, that changed my whole worldview, man. I thought that variety only grew in Assam, India because of the name.

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When Life Gives You Shit, Drink Rummy Pu

I have no words for how shitty this weekend was.

manure

Okay, not true. I have 1,551 words. Geez, that’s a lot.

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Seasoning A Boob-Shaped Yixing Teapot

Seven Days of Seven Cups, Day 1 – “Seasoning a Boob-Shaped Yixing Teapot”

In December of last year, I shattered my boob-shaped yixing teapot.

shattered boob yixing

Yes, it was boob-shaped once. Not . . . accurately boob-shaped, but definitely figuratively. It had a whole story behind it and everything. (The story in question can be found HERE.) At the time, I was reaching for a gaiwan, and the li’l guy fell from the top shelf of my bookcase. The base completely ‘sploded, likely because I hadn’t seasoned the pot properly.

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Dark Tea from Thailand

Well over a year ago, Tony “World of Tea” Gebely posted a photo of a dark tea on Instagram.

It was an aged moacha (i.e. the rough stuff used to make puerh cakes) . . . but it was from – of all places – Thailand.

Used with permission by Tony Gebely.

Used with permission by Tony Gebely.

For obvious reasons, it grabbed my attention.

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