Correct me if I'm wrong, in the code abcd on puer cakes the ab means the year the tea was made, c is the size of the leaves & d is the manufacturer. So ab means the year 19ab or 20ab, and whether it's 19 or 20 will be evident from what a & b actually are (87 obviously means it was made in 1987 & not 2087). For the size of the leaves I think it's either a scale from 0-9 or 1-9, where 0 or 1 is the tips & smallest leaves & 9 is the biggest leaves. The codes of the manufacturers is listed on Wikipedia; I don't know how current it is: 1. Kunming Tea Factory 2. Menghai Tea Factory 3. Xiaguan Tea Factory 4. Lan Cang Tea Factory or Feng Qing Tea Factory 5. Pu'er Tea Factory (now Pu'er Tea group Co.Ltd ) 6. Six Famous Tea Mountain Factory 7. unknown / not specified 8. Haiwan Tea Factory and Long Sheng Tea Factory
Would that mean that puer with a large 3rd digit should be steeped at a higher temperature then, if it has larger, more mature leaves?
Post by Eric (Student) on May 28, 2010 13:27:49 GMT -8
The first 2 digits relate to the year the formula for the tea was first developed - not the year the tea was manufactured. So you can buy a tea marked 75XX that was made in 1975 all the way up to 2010 if still in production by that same factory.
The third digit relates to the grade of the leaves. Grade does not imply quality but the type/size/age of leaf. Tips and buds are lower numbers and large/older leaves are the higher numbers. Since a formula may use combinations of large/small-youn/old leaves, this remains a bit of mystery of internal administration at the factory in question.
The fourth digit refers to the manufactuer code as you listed them.
With respect to adjusting the brew time for larger/older leaves, Daniel teaches a style of Gong-Fu Cha which emphasizes the fundamentals to be able to make any tea to your particular taste, as opposed to following rigid rules. So this would really be a matter of skill and personal taste.
Post by Eric (Student) on May 29, 2010 18:22:58 GMT -8
Ah - this question hits the nail squarely on the head. The short answer is that until you can develop your skill and education at identifying good tea, you need to buy from someone whose expertise you can trust.
Regrettably, fake Pu-Erh tea abounds everywhere (as does just about anything else in China right now that can be faked). For those who grew up in the West, accustomed to Western retailing standards, this can seem strange, as Westerners tend to implicitly trust most retailers, or at least understand the remedies available if one is unhappy with their purchase. If there is a disagreement, it's usually about price or quality - not if a pair of Nike's is actually a pair of Nike's. Not so in China - it's still very much "buyer beware".
Chinese business tradition has always been more about dealing with people you know and this has followed Pu-Erh tea to the West. For large business transactions, a referral is essential.
In the last few years, manufacturers are labelling their Pu-erh teas with the date of manufacture, possibly to address the growing popularity of Pu-Erh tea in the West and the demands of a new generation of sophisticated buyers within China who are becoming more accustomed to western retailing standards . It is also more common to see ISO quality standards being used in manufacturing and the labels marked accordingly.
I guess that works out pretty good for Daniel then ...ehhh I guess I'd drop in there anyway. I imagine in a perfect world it would be possible to acquire a list of everything that every factory has produced, by year, so that if someone tried to sell me recipe abcd I could look it up & decide whether or not that recipe was even made that year. Who's up for some corporate espionage?