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Pu Erh Teas

Pu Erh Teas

When I got to work this morning (if you call going to Selby Gardens, sipping, talking tea all-day work!), I decided to crack open our Young Pu-erh.  Pronounced Poo-Air, a special broad-leaf tea, Pu’er tea takes its name from the Pu’er county in the Province of Yunnan of China.

This is not a tea I reach for often.  Maybe I should not call myself a dedicated tea drinker because of this.  Though I was given a newspaper article about an area called Menghai in China. NYTimes Jan 2009

Pu'Er Tea

Farmers and citizens got rich investing and selling the bricks of Pu-er tea produced in Menghai.  Some buyers promoted it as liquid gold.  When the value hit record levels, they dumped their stock and disappeared.  Now it is less than a 10th of the peak price.  The tea traders are no longer buying, leaving the farmers and citizens broke.

Pu er Black Tea

What is Pu er tea?   Let’s talk about this tea that people are willing to pay huge amounts of money for.  Pu Erh goes through an additional oxidation process, much like composting, where bacterial and fungal fermentation occurs.  Many refer to it as pu erh fermented tea.

The tea can then be aged for many years.  Aged Pu Erh tea leaves are often compressed into cakes or bricks.  Then the tea is wrapped in tissue paper to absorb moisture. The bricks are left to mature in dark, dry places, enhancing the already earthy flavor.

Pu Erh is said to lower cholesterol, cure hangovers, help with digestive problems, aid metabolism, and is low in tannins.  Our Young Pu Erh at Local Tea Company is loose rather than compressed.  The flavor is very pungent and earthy. With a deep inhale, the tea smells like a compost heap and looks like tar.  So, I know it’s going to be good for me! Pu'er Tea

How many Steeps?

I finish the first steep and continue with four more steeps.  The later steeps are better than the initial steep. I find a lovely sweet beet tasting dark golden liquor with the fourth and fifth steep.

By this time, late in the afternoon, I think Pu Erh should be brewed more often.  I should share samples with visitors to Selby Garden as well as the Sarasota Farmer’s Market.  I’m not sure I would invest pots of money in Pu-erh, but it is definitely worth experiencing.  What a fascinating thing this drink is called Tea!

Cheers,
the Tea Lady

Kombucha with Black Tea

Kombucha Black Tea

Welcome to the next installment of kombucha making,

It has been an eventful and exciting period since we last talked, and there are some things I need to share.  First, Kombucha making takes some patience and some structure!  Michael, are you listening?

Get Kombucha

After winging the first batch, I got serious and looked for some better guidelines. This led me to a site called getkombucha.com. Dave talks you through all stages in a mini-course, which is brilliant. (I really like the way he presents his experiences, funny too) I have bought a better container and followed measurements more precisely and am hoping for better results.

Pu-Erh Kombucha

The first batch (made with Pu-erh) was quite frankly a disaster and ended up down the sink, but I am ok with that. I will nail this kombucha making; after all, I am an expert with a regular cuppa tea. How difficult can it be???

The second batch (made with Kenya black tea) is now bottled and needs refrigerating before consumption. I learned that keeping the bottles out for 4 days helps build up some carbonation before you refrigerate.  (A colleague took a crafty sample yesterday and reported that it tasted fantastic! She now wants in on the action too.) I look forward to drinking this daily whilst waiting for the next batch to work its magic.

Kombucha with Black and Green Tea

Another batch, which I started at home, was made with a combination of black and green tea. I brewed for only 12 days. Most guidelines indicate between 7 and 14 days, and on sampling, I liked the taste, so I went for it. In 2 of the bottles, I dropped a piece of fresh ginger (another thing I learned was that fruits need to be added at this stage).

I look forward to drinking to see if I have a success story on my hands.  My goal is to continue the Kombucha chain now.

kombucha fermenting in a glass jar as part of a tea blog post from Local Tea Company in Sarasota, Florida

Some important tips I want to share which may have contributed to my first failure are….

  • Do not cut down the sugar content (1 cup per 4-liter tea). The culture needs sugar to feed and grow,
  • Make sure the mixture is covered with a cloth or paper towel secured with an elastic band. It needs to breathe whilst keeping out the bugs. Or go to getkombucha.com for all the tips!
  • Just a word of warning, this kombucha making becomes somewhat of an obsession. You may find yourself very strangely watching your culture for any action. Is the SCOBY rising to the top or still on the bottom? How long do I have to wait till I taste?

BE PREPARED TO CATCH THE KOMBUCHA BUG!  Kombucha Black Tea

Cheers,
the TeaLady