I LOVE pu’erh tea. It’s the best! I want to drink it all the time! But a good pu’erh is hard to find – without breaking the bank. Is there a place online – or in Southern California – you recommend for finding a wide variety of reasonably priced and delicious pu’erhs? Also, what brewing methods do you recommend for pu’erh teas? Thank you!
Dear ‘Prefer Unfortunately Expensive Rarities,’
Good pu’erh is hard to find – although it really depends on how much you are willing to pay for it. If you don’t want to ‘break the bank,’ then figure out how much you are willing to spend on what can become a potentially expensive habit.
At the Los Angeles International Tea Festival last August, I attended an illuminating lecture on pu’erh by Linda Louie. Personally, I’ve never had la crème de la crème of pu’erh, but now I know a little bit more on how to obtain it.
I suggest that you visit Linda Louie’s tea company, Bana Tea. Her website has some good pu’erhs that may fit within your budget. She has pu’erh— ripe or raw—ranging from $18–$920. There are samplers for even less.
Since you live in Los Angeles, you may want to visit Bird Pick Tea and Herb (either in Culver City or Pasadena), and ask for a demonstration on how to prepare and brew pu’erh. As a former employee, I can tell you that the ‘tea-ristas’ are pleased to share their tea knowledge.
General Brewing Instructions:
For now, try to use either a (1) glass teapot, (2) Japanese gaiwan, (3) or Chinese yixing teapot for brewing. Start by pouring boiling water in the teapot and teacups to wash and pre-warm them. Put the tea in your teapot and ‘rinse’ it with hot water for two to three seconds (just cover the tea leaves). If it is ripe puer, rinse the tea twice; for raw, rinse once. Discard the water you used to rinse the tea. Next, pour hot water into the teapot and you will be ready to drink it in about twenty seconds. Fortunately, you can keep brewing your tea for at least ten – or more – infusions!
For more information, check out my video about Pu’erh: