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After a very long break from the blog, it was time to get into it again. During one of my recent puerh sessions, I started thinking about how I end up with different puerh cakes. Since I started my tea adventure, I have definitely changed the way I choose my puerh tea and that is what I wanted to talk about today.
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In the beginning
When I started drinking and buying puerh tea, I just went for stores that had a certain reputation in the online community. I usually picked the cakes that had a nice wrapper design. This is definitely not the way to go, but it helped me discover and learn about different tea regions. This can go bad quickly if you’re not buying from a reliable store. You could end up with bad tea and less money in your pocket. I experienced this a couple of times, so I decided something needed to change.
After drinking Puerh for a while
The next step in my journey was to look for specific regions that I liked. Overall, this improved my tea sessions and I was developing a fondness for some particular areas in Yunnan. At this time, I was still buying full cakes and noticed that this was not the right way to go. I occasionally felt I had bought the wrong tea.
Even though I only bought cakes from areas I really liked, some tea cakes were still a disappointment. This resulted in me being stuck with tea cakes that I don’t really like at the moment. They could change into something better, but I don’t plan on drinking them anytime soon.
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How I buy Puerh today
My previous experiences taught me that even though it’s tempting to buy a full cake of a particular tea, it’s better to try a sample first. I know that samples are not really cost-effective, but it’s better to spend 8 Euros on a 15g sample than 150-200 Euros on a full cake that you don’t like.
This is exactly what I’m doing now when I buy puerh tea. I pick a reliable store, browse what they are offering and select a few samples. These samples are usually from tea regions I already know or from other ones to get to know their flavours. Once I get the samples, I taste and compare them and see how much a full cake costs.
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The final step is thinking if the price of a full cake is justified by the flavours and experience I’m getting out of it. If this is the case, I order a full cake (or even a tong if it’s a true gem). This way, I will never buy a full cake of something I don’t really like. You spend a couple of Euros on a sample, but it’s not really a waste because you still get to drink the tea. It might seem very expensive (like 0,70-0,80 Euros per gram), while a full cake is only 0,40-0,50 per gram. In the end, you’ll only spend a couple of Euros more, but you won’t spend 150-200 Euros on tea that you don’t really like.
If you want to delve into the world of puerh tea, buy and try as much samples as you can. You could also buy some random cakes, but this is not always a good idea. A good middle ground is to buy small cakes of around 100g. These are usually not that expensive and good value for your money.