Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Puerh drinking really only STARTS at the fifth infusion."

At the blog, A Tea Addict's Journal, Marshal N. writes the following. He was drinking a 30-year-old puerh from Hong Kong, and was noting that at first the tea was not so good tasting as it became during later steepings. His advice:

I've said this before, but I'm reminded of this issue again today. I think one of the easy mistakes that newcomers to tea make is an over emphasis on the first few infusions. This is especially true of puerh, particularly the aged or wet stored type.... It's very clear that the best was at the end, not the beginning. My friend has told me how puerh drinking really only STARTS at the fifth infusion. Everything before can be discarded.
Marshal gives some advice on drinking many infusions, particularly of a young puerh, to be able to tell something about what the tea will be like after years of aging. The bit I found particularly interesting related closely to my experience recently, as I tried a puerh tasting for the first time.

If the pot you're using is too big, for example, so that you can't drink more than say 7 cups before feeling totally exhausted by the tea, then you should perhaps consider something smaller. This is a particularly acute problem in the non-Asian world, as the norm is to drink alone, not with company, making a long session of tea harder to achieve. If your pot is too big (say, 150ml) you might be drinking a litre or more of water and still be nowhere near the end of the tea if you're on your own. It's definitely something to consider.
On my recent foray into puerh, it seems I did not get nearly far enough into the long session one would expect with a puerh. But I was floating after not too long!

So... smaller pot; or gongfu; or be willing to toss out a bit of this tea to get to the later steepings. Or share!