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What You Need to Make Pu Erh Tea Like a Pro

We’ve spent the last few weeks extolling the virtues of pu erh, addressing some common misconceptions, and providing some advice for picking out good teas while avoiding bad ones. Inevitably, however, there will come a time when you have to make your pu erh.

how to brew puer tea pu-erh tea brewing meimei fine teas 

Now maybe you prefer the old, reliable method of an infuser and a mug? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but this post is particularly for those looking to ascend, to take that next step into pu erh aficionadodom. It’s time to level up!

So what do you need?

Great question! Here are some important accessories:

  1. A tea tray

Why do you need one?

Making tea the traditional way can lead to some drips and spills, especially while you pour the tea out of your teapot, gaiwan, or server. Tea trays help keep our messes to a minimum.

What is more, they have a height of about 2–4”, which makes for some elegance at the table. Your tea preparation is guaranteed to be the center of attention and topic of conversation.

how to brew puer tea pu-erh tea tray meimei fine teas 

The extra height isn’t just for aesthetics though.

Tea trays also function as storage compartments for your tea and teaware when they’re not in use. By lifting the top of the tray, a hidden area is revealed in which you can keep anything (preferably tea-related items).

  1. A fair cup / pitcher / server

Why do you need one?

When we prepare tea using traditional methods—known as gong fu—we will be using a small teapot or gaiwan, and while these allow for a number of benefits (such as more infusions and better flavors), for some of us, they also make too much or too little tea.

Sometimes we fill our teacups and still have some tea leftover in our teapot. Do we reach for another cup for the excess tea? Do we (heaven forbid) pour it out? Do we let it sit in our teapot, continuing to extract phyto goodness from our tea leaves?

Still, other times, we may feel like there just wasn’t enough tea. Do we try to exercise some self-control and delay gratification? Maybe we consider prematurely ending our session to heat up water yet again?

In either case, we face a dilemma.

The good news is that servers address both of these issues!

tea pitcher

A server gives us some ample space for additional tea, and a good server will keep your tea warm enough to enjoy (especially if you preheat it). And besides, it looks much cleaner and politer to pour your tea from a server.

  1. A Yixing teapot (and maybe a tea pet!)

Why do you need one?

Although a gaiwan will do when preparing your tea gong fu style, a Yixing teapot makes for a completely different experience. These teapots, naturally non-toxic and made from authentic Zisha clay, are porous, absorbing the flavor and aroma of the teas you use. This means that, over time, your Yixing teapot will ultimately enhance the flavor of your tea!

Similarly, the outside of your Yixing teapot will absorb the oils from your hands with each use, eventually leading to a deeper color and brilliant sheen.

Just remember to season your teapot before use!

To do so, you’ll want to gently place it in a stainless steel pot with tepid water, taking care to ensure that your teapot is completely covered (leave the lid aside). Heat the water over a stove until it begins to boil, letting this continue for 30–60 minutes. Once finished, let cool, carefully remove, and rinse your teapot out. You’re now ready to give it some love.

  1. A pu erh pick

Why do you need one?

Unless you purchase a sample of pu erh or otherwise purchase loose leaf, pu erh tends to be sold in a tightly compressed block or cake, usually known as a zhuan or bing. Trying to loosen your pu erh with your bare hands can be done, but it will be really messy and, at times, even frustrating. Alternatively, you can try to use standard kitchen utensils, but this, too, tends to be a disaster.

The solution is the pu erh pick or pu erh knife!

pu erh tea pick by meimei fine teas 

A sharp, pointy or knife instrument, pu erh picks make separating your pu erh tea easier than ever. Just gently push it through part of your bing in several places to loosen the leaves you want, and then use the pick to delicately pry away those leaves.

It’s easy to fall victim to some marketing and invest in a wooden pick, such as sandalwood or bamboo, but these picks are not very functional, often breaking during use. It’s best to stick with a dependable metal pick.

Obviously, some other things to have on hand include some gorgeous teacups and some good pu erh tea, but the above accessories are the ones most likely to be overlooked or underappreciated when jumping into the world of pu erh. Each serves an important purpose, and together, they make for the ultimate pu erh drinking experience!


MeiMei Fine Teas
MeiMei Fine Teas

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August 30, 2018

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