cheap shu puer

2007 Liming Golden Peacock Shu

Cheap Shu Puer for Daily Drinking

It has been a few months since the beginning of my blog, and I have yet to mention much shu [cooked, ripe] puer, aside from these lousy teabags. It is not because I never drink shu, but within my puer drinking, it probably only constitutes 5%-10% of my overall consumption. (Or in the last two months, maybe 1%) I do enjoy shu puer, but find it less engaging than sheng [uncooked, raw] puer, so I usually drink it less often. I also tend to drink teas that are redder in color in colder weather, so when winter hits, I drink a lot more aged sheng and shu than in spring and summer, when I tend to drink younger teas. With old man winter announcing his presence this last week, it was time to bring out the cooked pu. (Although these pics are from a couple months ago)

Liming Puerh
Dry leaves

In the past, I felt like I have crapped all over Liming Factory, due to this Qiaomu Chawang, which is mainly their own damn fault, for naming such an average tea the “arbor tea king”. Where is the humility?! But, a little bit of the blame rests on me for being picky and demanding. The price of the tea king isn’t reasonable, but I don’t hate Liming. And to prove I don’t completely hate Liming, I present this cheap shu puer. A similar shu is floating around Taobao and can be bought for anywhere between USD5- USD15, a totally reasonable price for a very drinkable everyday shu. (The shu below is a bit more expensive, but very similar, I have had both) If you are a fan of shu, I recommend you pick some up. If only their “arbor tea kings” has a similar price tag.

Liming Puer
Shaky hands and clear soup
Liming Ripe Puer
More soup witcha meal

Now, Liming factory is sort of a copycat, and these cakes are far from the best shu puer you can get, but they are decent for their price. Having a cake of shu around which can be chipped into 15 gram chunks without fear of being decadent is a blessing. This is a solid shu, with a classic woody flavor and some  medicinal kind of flavor floating around. A warm friend to help welcome winter.

Li Ming Puerh
Leaves in the Gaiwan

 

Liming puer

2005 Liming Qiaomu Chawang

Qiaomu and Other Oft Used B.S.

Oh, Liming Factory! Never bashful about overstating the quality of your tea. You are the American student of tea factories, 1st in confidence, 37th in ability. Alright, I am unfairly singling out Liming factory, as the entire puer tea industry is filled with this kind of over ambitious labeling. This particular puer tea, labeled Qiaomu Chawang [Arbor Tea King] is certainly high on ambition. Maybe a less regal title, something more in the middle management range.  Maybe Qiaomu Junior Supervisor. And arbor…we would need to change that too. But, I guess Plantation Junior Supervisor just isn’t sexy enough to sell cakes.

Qiaomu
Dry leaves in a very yellow photograph
aged raw puerh
Closer detail

The leaves are a beautiful dark brown color, and they smell how they look; brown, rich and aged. I noted their smell was “enchanting”, so maybe we should promote this tea to the position of Qiaomu Baron.

Qiaomu puer
Soup

The first steeps left a lot of aged tobacco flavor in the gaiwan, with a creamy scent on the lid. The first several infusions presented a nice kuwei [pleasant bitterness] and a fast huigan [sweet aftertaste]. The soup was a little bit thin overall, but there were several flavors warring for dominance. Also, for a tea that was a bit thin,  it had some staying power. The tobacco flavor that was so prevalent in the first four steepings trailed off and the later session was dominated by some throat coating bitterness, which was quite pleasant, even if the flavor became a bit generic.  Overall, the body feeling and general feeling of the tea was fairly average, for a tea with a higher than average price tag of around USD 90 on Taobao.

The tea has some potential to age further, as it still retains a fair amount of strength, but I would rather drink several other teas with lower price tags, were I buying factory productions from this time period.

raw puerh tea
Spent leaf

The leaves were fairly heavily fragmented. The leaf pictured above is one of the bigger leaves I could find when rummaging around the gaiwan. If I were to lay a bet, the label of qiaomu on this tea is pretty misleading, seems like mostly plantation material. The title of tea king is not worth discussing – there can only be one king, and that is clearly Tiandiren. (ha)

For the price/quality of this tea, I am just not sure who is buying this stuff? To prove I am not just relentlessly crapping all over Liming factory, there is a ripe Liming cake that I really enjoy. I will break it out and take some photos one of these days, as a penance for my treason against the king.

puerh tea leaves
Wet leaves in the gaiwan (before the lid cracked)