Since I don’t really have my full complement of teaware and I don’t really have much tea here, consumption is going to be simple and limited until I get home to Hong Kong and ship the stuff over. One of the few things I do have with me is one of those bags of loose puerh I’ve purchased in Hong Kong. I got this bag, I think, a year ago. It’s been traveling with me to various places, since it’s a pretty good tea to just throw in a cup and make. Over the year though, it’s taken on a softer, rounder taste — a little more like cooked stuff, actually. I think it’s lost that slightly rough edge from the wet storage, and has acquired a little more aged feel to it while actually enhancing the mouthfeel. I got a few different grades, and it’s obvious that they differ in taste when I tried them side by side. The cheapest one was a little sour. This one doesn’t have a sourness, but is thinner than the most expensive version. The liquor of the teas, interestingly enough, reflect that in how dark the tea is. With that comparison (I meant to post it, but I think it got derailed with the earthquake around December that knocked the internet out), you can really tell the differences between different blends and how the feel and taste different in the mouth.
This is all stuff that one can call “cooked”, and the different grades are almost denoting different cookedness. The cooking was not done by the fermentation piles on the floor, but rather in bags in wet storage facilities in Hong Kong. Some would even say that only stuff like this is real puerh — dry stored tea is not technically right if the humidity never got high enough for it to acquire that distinctive puerh taste. Indeed, drinking a 5 year old, real dry stored tea that was in Beijing all 5 years can be a pretty unsatisfactory experience. I wonder though, has anybody actually figured out exactly what kind of microbe is the one that is responsible for the creation of our drink? Somebody should figure it out.