Breaking Compressed Pu'er Tea
Before brewing tea, we should first prepare tea and teaware. Most Pu'er teas are compressed into certain shapes, so we need to team how to break or pry apart the compressed tea. Try to minimize the leaf breakage since whether or not the loosened tea leaves are intact will have a direct effect on the color, aroma and flavor of the brew, Therefore, it is important to understand the tested method for breaking compressed tea.
Tea knife (or tea needle), tea scoop, Pu'er breaking tray, scale, (electronic or non-electronic).
a.Open the package of compressed tea and put the tea in the center of the tray with the concave side (back-side) facing upward.
b. Press the edge of the tea with one hand and hold the tea knife in fee other, look for the space between the tea leaves and insert the tea knife, try to avoid crushing tea leaves. Insert the tea knife into the edge of the compressed tea and gently work the knife up and down, slowly loosening and prying apart the tea. Remove the knife and find another space, repeat this process until the tea loosens and breaks off into the tray. To be safe,you can also peel off the loosened tea lumps with your hand. Please avoid angling the knife towards your body during the breaking process.
c.Collect small tea lumps and loose tea leaves (approximately 5g to 8g, you can weigh it using the scale) from the tray and put them into the teapot,or you may use the tray's specially designed open corner to pour the tea leaves directly into the teapot.If the tea lumps are too big to fit in the teapot, break the lumps into smaller pieces by hand.
We've already mentioned above that the amount of tea leaves and the ratio of tea to water will determine the flavor of the tea. For compressed Pu'er tea,the ratio of tea to water is normally 1: 20.Use the scale to weigh the tea leaves and put 5g tea leaves into the teapot and add 100ml water.For loose-leaf Puer tea the ratio of tea to water is about l: 15; use 6 to 7g tea and 100ml water.
Brewing Pu'er Tea
There are basically 8 steps for brewing Pu'er tea:
- Prepare the teaware: Choose the utensils to be used in the brewing process, place and arrange them on the tea table.
- Warm the teaware: Pour boiling water on the outer surface and into the teapot and cups to cleanse and warm them, then dispose of the water in the teapot and cups.
- Cast tea leaves: Put tea leaves into the teapot.
- Awaken the tea: Pour freshly boiled water into the teapot, the first pour is used to rinse and awaken the tea leaves, brew the tea for several seconds then dispose of the first brew.
- Steep the tea: The second pour is used to cultivate the tea leaves, steep the tea for 10 to 20 seconds, from the third to fifth pour, steep the tea for 5 to 15 seconds. As the tea leaves have now fully awakened and extended, we shorten the steeping time so that the flavor won't be too heavy, For the sixth flush, we may steep the tea longer, usually about 20 to 30 seconds, as the flavor gradually becomes weaker.
- Divide the tea: Pour the brew into the fairness cup first and then fill each teacup with equal amounts of tea liquor from the fairness cup to approximately 70% capacity.
- Serve the tea: Present the guests with tea by placing teacups in front of each guest.
- Cleanse the teaware: Cleanse the used utensils and wipe with a clean tea towel. If using purple-clay teaware, simply wash them and have them air dry.
Brewing Pu'er tea a Covered Bowl
The covered bowl consists of a bowl, a lid,and a bowl saucer. It can be used for brewing tea as well as drinking tea. We simply put some tea leaves into the bowl, fill the bowl with water, then cover the bowl with the lid and serve the covered bowl to the guest. We may also pour the brew from a teapot to the bowl and drink the brew from the bowl. It is very convenient like brewing and drinking tea using a glass.
The method of brewing tea in a covered bowl is not difficult to learn. The tea master is able to control the steeping time, to examine the color and the thickness of the tea liquor as well as the brewed tea leaves, and the covered bowl is easy to cleanse. For newly made tea, we usually choose to brew it in a covered bowl to fully reveal the nature of the tea.
Brewing Pu'er tea in a covered bowl:
- Warm the bowl: Open the lid of the bowl and fill it with freshly boiled water to cleanse and warm the bowl, then drain the water away.
- Cast tea leaves: First put Pu'er tea onto the tea holder and that use a teaspoon to carefully move the tea leaver from the tea holder into the bowl.
- Awaken the tea: Fill the bowl with water at a temperature of 90°C to 100°C, cultivate the tea leaves for about 10 seconds and then pour out the brew. The first flush is only to cleanse and awaken the tea.
- Pour die water: Hold the kettle and slowly pour the water in a circle around the inner wall of the bowl. Remember not to pour the water from up high, instead lower the arm so that a stream flows from the spout smoothly and evenly.
- Pour out the brew: Slide the lid to create a small gap between the edge of the bowl and the lid, so that the brew can be poured out while the tea leaves remain in the bowl. Use the thumb and the middle finger to clench the lid button and hold the bowl with the other fingers and the palm. Then tilt the bowl to one side and pour the brew into the fairness cup.
- Refill the bowl: Refill the bowl with water, Pu'er tea can usually be brewed 10 times or more. The tea master should adjust the temperature of the water and the steeping time to control the aroma and flavor of each brew.
- Cleanse the bowl; Take out the brewed tea leaves from the bowl and cleanse the bowl with warm water to wash away any residue. Use a ten towel or cotton cloth to wipe the surface of the bowl, the lid the bowl saucer.
Brewing Pu'er Tea in a Purple-clay Teapot
For ripe or aged Pu'er tea we brew it in a purple-clay teapot so as to appreciate the tea's mellow and rich flavor. This is best achieved using the following steps.
1.Warm the teapot; Open the lid of the teapot and fill it with freshly boiled water. Then cover the teapot with the lid again and pour water onto the lid and surface of the teapot, circle around the teapot twice until it is fully warmed and cleansed.
2. Cast tea leaves: First put pieces of Pu'er tea onto the tea holder and then use a teaspoon to carefully move the tea leaves from the tea holder into die teapot.
3. Awaken the tea: Fill the bowl with water at a temperature of 90℃ to 100℃, then let the steam circle around the inner wall of the teapot in an anticlockwise direction until the teapot is full.Cover the lid and pour water onto the surface of the teapot cultivating the tea leaves for about 10 seconds, then pour out the brew. The first pour is only to cleanse and awaken the tea.
4. Pour the water: Hold the kettle and slowly pour out the water circling around the inner wall of the teapot. Alternatively, pour the water into the teapot at a fixed point. Remember not to pour the water from high up and allow time for the tea leaver to activate and extend in the water.
5. Pour out the brew: Hold the teapot and pour the brew from the spout of the teapot into the fairness cup.
6. Refill the teapot: Refill the teapot with water, Pu'er tea can usually be brewed for 10 times or more. The tea master should adjust the temperature of the water and the steeping time to control the aroma and the flavor of each brew.
7. Cleanse the teapot; Take out the brewed tea leaves from the teapot and cleanse the teapot with warm water to wash away any residua. Air dry the teapot until the inside of the teapot is completely dry.
It is important to store properly Pu'er tea, aged Pu'er or vintage Pu'er in particular. During the storage period, raw Pu'er tea undergoes a slow post-fermentation process, which contributes to the formation of a unique aged aroma and flavor of the tea. The flavor of ripe Pu'er tea will also gradually become mellower and richer during storage.
Normally we store Pu'er tea in a clean, dark, cool, dry, well ventilated environment free from potent odors or contaminants. As teaware made from purple-clay is highly air-permeable, purple-clay tea canisters and jars are a good choice for storing Pu'er tea; the tea has contact with fresh air, but the container protects the tea from dust and other contaminants,
Purple-clay jars are ideal for storing one or several pieces of compressed Pu*er tea. The correct method is to unpack the compressed tea and put it inside the jar, then cover the jar with a board or cotton cloth instead of the purple-day lid so that the tea inside the jar is better ventilated. If we break the compressed tea into small pieces, it is suitable to store these small pieces in purple-clay canisters which are much smaller in volume than purple-clay jars.
It should be noted that tea can easily absorb moisture and strong odors. If Pu'er tea absorbs potent odors during storage, the original pure and aged aroma will be contaminated. And when tea absorbs moisture, it tends to mold and mildew which is harmful to the body if it is brewed and consumed.
The aroma and flavor of the tea may differ, depending on the different climates where the tea is stored. For example, the humidity in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in Southwest China, is relatively low and the ageing process of the tea is relatively slow, so the aroma and flavor of the tea after a period of storage can be very pure and mellow. While the humidity in coastal areas is relatively high, so the teas ageing process is relatively quick. The aroma and flavor of Pu'er may become peculiar when stored in a very humid environment as the tea absorbs too much water in the air. Therefore, we should pay attention to the humidity and temperature of the storage environment and choose the best place to store tea.