Finding a good store who sells pu erh tea that is of a consistent good grade and not overly expensive can be a bit of trial and error sometimes. Knowing where to buy pu erh tea and having a reliable source that you can depend on is important. It is probably the most difficult tea to discern quality on as there are so many factors involved. But the bottom line is always how does it taste. How is the aftertaste and feel in your mouth? ( see HERE for some tasting tips and information on pu erh tea quality and how it is made) Of course having a high grade pu erh tea on hand to compare with can be helpful if you are not accustomed to drinking good pu erh tea. And like most things in life, there will probably be a learning curve in discovering how to appreciate the unique taste and quality of this amazing tea. So my advice is to be prepared to try a few different teas, make a note of the good ones and try to keep a little on hand for comparisons further down the track as you experiment and buy more.
Where to Buy Pu eh Tea
Our own tea store is now selling some high quality pu erh tea direct from Yunnan, China. At present we have 200g (7oz) and 375 (13.2oz) raw (sheng) cakes as well as a range of mini touchas. Mini touchas are tiny compressed pu erh tea cakes usually around 3g/0.1oz).
Art of tea is an online tea store that specializes in a large range of assorted teas from around the world. It’s range of pu erh teas mainly consist of some flavored teas including Coconut pu erh, Aztec spice pu erh and more.
American Tea Room, likewise has mostly flavored pu erh teas, including Vanilla Mint pu erh and Flowering pu erh
Generation Tea has by far the biggest selection and range of pu erh teas available including an extremely expensive $8,500 for an exclusive 1970’s Zhong Cha Iron Cake Simplified Letters collectors item. (These tea cakes were compressed under specially made heavy iron molds – thus the name Iron. Wrappers are a little damaged because of the age. This tea has been well preserved in dry, low humidity storage. This tea can be re-infused many times and still retain it’s unique taste and flavor profile. But probably not really the kind of investment in pu erh tea you would make first up! 🙂
Many of this stores higher end teas are in the $130 – $180 price bracket, so they are not cheap. They also have some loose pu erh teas and some Mini Touchas available starting at $12.00 for the more conservative or cautious first timer with this store.
What to Look for in a Good Pu erh Tea
One of the drawbacks with buying a pu erh tea cake online is that some stores will not have a sample available and you will need to purchase the whole 375g/13.2oz cake. But do try to insist on getting a sample first if you are unsure of the quality as some tea stores are willing to open a pu erh cake and use it for supplying samples to their customers.
if you are looking for a pu erh tea to put in storage and allow it to mature, I recommend that you buy a raw pu erh (aka as sheng pu erh or green puerh). Cooked pu erh (aka shou pu erh) has undergone a process that hastens the fermentation process and further storage does not change the taste profile very much. Raw pu erh is best for aging. If you can buy one that is around 5-10 years old already, you should find that it is a nice mellow tasting tea and ready to drink now. It should also be fine for aging more and if stored properly will only improve in taste over time. Cooked pu erh tea is fine to drink even less than 1 year old as it has already fermented and “artificially” aged.
If you are looking for more information on how pu erh tea is made, differences between raw and cooked pu erhs, along with some tasting tips you will probably find this article interesting and helpful.
Let me know your experience with pu erh in the comments below.