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Everything you ever wanted to know about Pu Erh tea (and a thrifted teapot)

tea pot

I bought this cute little tea pot for 50p at the car boot sale last weekend. I love tea, and I love teapots.

tea pot

It’s Danish made, so it is.

pu erh tea

[warning: this is gonna get a bit geeky. I love tea. Love it. If you think tea chat is boring, maybe skip the rest of the writing and just look at the pictures].

I used this thrifty purchase to make decidedly non-thrifty tea. This is Pu Erh tea, which is lovely and delicious and costs £5.60 per 50g. I got it because I was asking the guy in the tea shop (Anteaques, by far the best tea shop in the city) for Ooolong. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this, but I have been searching for the perfect tea for a long time. My friend brought some stuff back from Thailand years and years ago, and in my mind that was perfection. I am now about 95% sure it was Oolong, after another friend who has been to Taiwan made some for me. But there are many many types of Oolong and in the shop thy only had one, and it really wasn’t what I was thinking of, much more smokey.

So the tea man recommended this Pu Erh instead. I love that man, he talks about tea with such passion and has travelled and lived all over Asia so he properly knows lots about it. It’s substance, not style as with the other tea shops in Edinburgh, who have gone for a vintage fun afternoon tea approach (though nowt wrong with that either).

Anyway, he was telling me… Pur Erh is Chinese tea and like Oolong it sits between green and black. There are two types, raw and fermented. The fermented stuff is harvested, then put in a big heap and left to compost. It’s then dried and sold and it does distinctly smell of compost. Which is too much of an acquired taste for me.

The raw Pu Erh is loosely packed into tea bricks (not like the decorative tea bricks you sometimes see which are completely compacted) and is then left to stand in a damp room for 3 years so it naturally ferments a little bit and darkens. You can see in the photo that the leaves are still stuck together from the brick, but you can grind them apart so it looks more like normal loose leaf tea.

Oh, and googling for the Wikipedia link I discovered that the tea is supposedly have slimming properties, although quite how it’s meant to do that I don’t know.

a nice cup of tea

You make tea in the same way as you do Oolong, in a tiny tea pot. The proper pots are even smaller, and the cups are very small bowls. You stick in the leaves (same amount as you would any other tea), then you pour boiling water over it and immediately pour it away, keeping the tea leaves obviously. This gets rid of any sharp taste from the fermentation. You then top the leaves up with fresh boiling water straight away. You can keep topping up a few times and you get different flavours and colours of tea. It tastes flowery and delicate and beautiful!

a nice cup of tea

Any other tea geeks out there? Or unusual tea stories? Or coffee stories?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Pullyoursocksup 19 August 2011, 7:51 am

    Yes I am a tea geek, especially since I stopped drinking alcohol two years ago.  I've always loved Indian tea – I like a cuppa that makes me sit up and beg first thing in the morning.  I don't think there is a tea I've ever disliked and I really like your description of the process of pouring it out and the flavour changes.  I'm having a pot of tea as I type this in fact! xo

  • Helen Sheridan 19 August 2011, 9:14 am

    Scott is a complete tea geek and I enjoy his geekery too, although I am both a tea and coffee fan! I prefer lighter teas, like silver tips or green tea. I've never heard of that Anteaques place before, I wish we had visited it when we were in Edinburgh last year! Our favourite place for loose leaf tea is gillards of bath, we often order loose leaf tea and coffee from there. Their English Breakfast tea blend is Scott's favourite ever. Their earl grey is also the best I have ever tasted. Definitely recommend ordering some online! They come in such lovely packets too. http://www.gillards.co.uk/index.asp 

  • oranges_and_apples 19 August 2011, 9:46 am

    Anteaques is tiny and crammed full of stuff! It's an antiques shop as well as a tea shop. I've never seen anyone buy anything other than tea though. And its only open Fri – Sun except during the festival. It looked like it might close down at one point but seems to have recovered. I feel good about spending there, because the two owners are so nice!

  • madam0wl a.k.a Sandra 19 August 2011, 11:55 am

    I've only started drinking tea in the last year, so I'm a total newbie.  Plus my dabblings have just been with herbal teas which can be enjoyed warm or cool.  I started out making plain oat straw tea (my post about it: Mighty Oat Straw Brew, ha ha), but now I add nettles and red raspberry leaf to it also.   Coffee is still my first choice for early morning, but then I'll have two to three glasses of herbal tea throughout the day, and sometimes a warm mug right before bed.  Maybe it is just placebo effect (except oat straw IS supposed to be good for you), but it seems to have a calming / bolstering effect on me. 

  • Fashnlvr 19 August 2011, 3:25 pm

    I love tea! What a cute little teapot! I luckily inherited my mother's collection of china teapots. I love them and use them too. I haven't experimented with many different kinds of loose teas but you have inspired me to give it a try. We have a tea shop in our local mall.

  • Millie 19 August 2011, 3:37 pm

    I'm a bit of a wannabe tea dork.  I feel like I don't know enough/am not fussy enough about brewing times and temepratures to be a full on tea dork but and definitely headed in that direction. 

  • Elly 19 August 2011, 6:27 pm

    I'm not a tea geek myself, though I have a good friend who is very much so.  (We're talking, gets queasy from the taste of tea from teabags.)  A good Pu Erh is one of his favorites… I'll have to see if he has any recommendations for online tea shops!

  • Helgavontrollop 19 August 2011, 9:00 pm

    Actually,I don't find anything much boring in the world at all!
    I'm not a tea fan,generally,but I do find the history and ritual intriguing.
    It's just nice to be passionate about things,and enjoy others passion!!!
    xxx Have a brillant weekend!

  • Penny dreadful vintage 19 August 2011, 11:10 pm

    I love tea but you surpass me with geekery! This sounds delicious xx

  • Fabienne Jach 19 August 2011, 11:10 pm

    I'm not a tea geek but I love tea. I time mine because I realized that over-steeping makes it so bitter. I guess I like things to be just right!
    xo, f

  • Silvia 21 August 2011, 3:38 pm

    This was beautiful written, and I don't drink much tea.

  • Marissa 21 August 2011, 7:44 pm

    I love that you're a tea geek. I know nothing about it, so I just stick to the bags. 🙂 That teapot is a great find!

  • Terri 22 August 2011, 1:27 am

    I had no idea that the brewing of some teas was this complicated…but your description of the taste makes it sound delightful.