Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pu-erh...Ah, Pooh-air!

Well, I've not been around lately. The kids and I've have been sick with earaches and stuffy, runny noses ect! NOT FUN and certainly not conducive to DUEing tea. I cannot tell you how put off I was that I couldn't taste my Earl Grey Creme!

But, alas, here I am, sipping my Strawberry Pu-erh, milk less, sugarless, and LOVING EVERY MINUTE! Who'da thought!

Now a friend of mine asked recently, "What is Pu-erh tea?" (Hi Christen!) Well, she being the beautiful brainiack and inquisitive person that she is, probably looked it up herself.

But for the rest of us who want to know, but not everything about it...Pu-erh tea is basically, and I mean BASICALLY, black tea (denotes oxidation time) that's been fermented...yes like wine. But remember it's a LEAF, not a fruit...so no tipsiness here please!

Some Pu-erhs are fermented for months....some, as I mentioned before, are fermented for up to 30 years and beyond. And the price shows.

Pu-erh, by the way, is pronounced by Americans, who are "in" the know~ tea proprietors, tea store front owners ect, ~say "Pooh-air". However, their pronunciation is out of line with two sources, both from the other side of the world.

First, I looked up the pronounciation on Forvo.com and someone mentioned the Malaise way of pronouncing Pu-erh as "Poor-er" with a very soft not harsh "er" at the end., like a whisper. The second place I heard the second pronunciation was on a DVD called All About This Tea. On it there was an Asian woman who clearly had a foreign accent, yet spoke English well. She pronounced it "Poor-er".

Which will I be saying?


It's prettier, and because the elite of the American tea society has chosen thus, I will certainly not be changing anything by insisting on the other way...and that's not a battle worth winning, much less fighting. I'd just lose face and I've not the tea pedigree to handle that...at this point (grin).

Oh, but I do love Pu-erh tea.

Since discovering it a few months ago, it's become my favorite tea! From Teavana's "Weight to Go", which I had little hope for when I opened it, and Strawberry Slender Pu-erh,  to a true Pu-erh (with no blending of fruits or herbs) that I just found a week ago at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar in Charlottesville, there's not a one I haven't liked! They have a fabulous taste that is completely unique to the tea!

Preparation thoughts:

Pu-erh MUST be rinsed before steeping due to the dust that collects on it during aging. IT does make a hill of beans difference, because otherwise you get a mouth full of earthiness that was never meant to be tasted! (I've found this to be true...personally :() So rinse with the boiling water from the kettle (about 210 degrees), wait 25-30 seconds for the leaf to sort-of wake up, then pour the water over it in the cup. As with all teas, observe proper steep time!!! 2 mins for the first steep. 2.5-3 minutes for the second.

THEN, I do a cold steep, pour filtered cold water over the infused leaves and leave it for hours, even overnight. This seems to by-pass the bitterness and yields a decent enough third brew.

Though I haven't done much cream and sugar with the blended Pu-erhs, I defiantly treat the pure Pu-erh to my usual black tea treatment: milk and Splenda! Without it, it still very interesting, but the loveliness shines with treatment. Like the perfect picture is only made better by the perfect frame...

I hope to tack on a picture, but if I can't get that to work, let me just tell you, it is the most luscious, velvety rose color you've ever seen. It should be a LIPSTICK, the color turns so lovely! And the taste, oh, it's amazing and I don't have words...I know what it's not...it's not malty or earthy, and yet there's a hint of wilderness to it. It's foreign, and deep, mysterious and...just wonderful!
Tou-Cha (or Bird's Nest) Pu-erh m&s


Seek it out...it's worth the treasure of finding it! And when you do, tell us about it! Would love to see your thoughts on Pu-erhs!

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1 comment:

  1. The flash is too high to show the richness of this wonderful rosy colored tea! But there it is, my lovely tea!