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Tag: pu’erh

Teaware Review: Pu’erh Knife from eBay

Pu'erh knife with ebony handle from eBayOnce you start getting really hooked into tea, investing in good teaware is an obvious next step. I’ve got a few gaiwans and tiny cups in my cupboard, as well as the requisite filters, measuring spoons, and so forth, but one of the things that was conspicuously absent from my setup was a pu’erh knife, also called a tea knife.

Pu’erh knives are used to break apart tightly-packed cakes and bricks of dry tea. You can do the same thing with your fingers, of course, but it takes longer and you risk breaking up the large leaves into tiny bits, thus risking bitter tea when you start steeping. A pu’erh knife (which has a flat blade) or pick (which has a thin spike) allows you to do so without destroying the integrity of the tea leaves themselves.

I bought a lovely-looking tea knife off of eBay about 3 weeks ago, and it came in the mail last Friday. (I got it from a vendor called vin_enjoy, but there are a lot of others out there.) When I opened the heavily taped-up package, I was a bit nervous, since my anticipation had been pretty high. But honestly, I shouldn’t have worried. I mean, look at this thing: it’s gorgeous!

puerh_knife_2It’s about 6 inches long and one half of the wooden casing unscrews to reveal the blade. The blade itself is 1-2 inches long and ends in a dovetail point that’s thin enough to cut through tea cakes, but not thin enough to risk cutting through skin — or at least, I haven’t been clumsy enough to experience such misfortune yet. The handle feels heavy and comfortable in my hand, with a good weight to it.

But does it actually work?

It looks like it does. Here’s a cake from my cupboard:


When I tried making tea from this cake in the past, I got a few whole leaves, but it was difficult to find a weak spot and really dig in with my fingers. However, with the pu’erh knife, I was able to pry apart huge chunks of leaves fairly easily. I’ll probably need a bit more practice, but so far I’m pretty happy with my first attempt to pry the leaves off with the knife:



Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2012

Tea Review: Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2012 from Teavivre

About This Tea

Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2012Tea type: Raw (sheng) pu’erh, loose-leaf, broken off from a pu’erh cake

How I got it: This tea was provided to me for free from Teavivre in exchange for a review.

How you can get it: Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2012 is available online from Teavivre.

Tea description from Teavivre’s website:

Combining the features of both Ming Qian and Yu Qian, with the excellent skills of tea makers, this Ancient Chun Jian Raw Puerh has an even shape, strong aroma and bright yellowish green color. It tastes soft of first sip. The flavor after is light bitter. Then it comes the sweet aftertaste after the swallowing of the liquid, which will stay in your mouth for a long time

How I Brewed It

Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw dry leaf in gaiwanTeavivre delivers their samples in small foil packets. I took the entire contents of one packet of Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh — about 10 grams — and poured it into a gaiwan. The dry leaf smelled smoky, leathery, mineral, and even slightly yeasty and tart like bread. The leaves themselves were dark and spindly, with flecks of gold and brown among the leathery black.

I brewed the tea using ~100°C water poured into a giant teapot — enough to make about a dozen steeps. The dry tea itself nearly filled the gaiwan halfway! I compensated by starting off with really short initial steeps. I gave the dried tea two short rinses and a rest of about 5 minutes to wake up. Then I gave the tea successive steeps of 10/10/12/10/12 seconds.

How Does It Taste?

Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw brewed teaThe first steep of Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh is a very clear, light orange-brown with no cloudiness. The tea itself is thin in my mouth and coats my tongue with bitterness at first. The aftertaste is also somewhat bitter, though I sense that the tea will change character over the next few steeps and become fuller and sweeter.

The second steep is still clear but is a slightly darker brown. It’s slightly more bitter than the first steep, and I’m also beginning to notice some astringency crinkling my tongue.

The third steep and fourth steeps are still bitter. I’m guessing I used too much leaf, but other reviews I had read of this tea said they used the same amount, so I’m not sure what’s going on. The bitterness is somewhat tart and smoky as well.

And now I’m getting a bit of a stomachache and maybe even some heartburn. Yippee.

The fifth steep is starting to lighten up somewhat, but by this point I’m just going to accept that I botched the preparation by using a whole sample packet. I probably would have done much better with 5 grams in the gaiwan rather than 10. On the plus side, the leaves have really started to expand and become a deep olive green colour.

Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw wet leaf in gaiwan

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