For ripe puer tea drinkers and vendors...your thought on "aerial fermentation"

Puerh and other heicha
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vuanguyen
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Sun Mar 15, 2020 12:45 pm

Last weekend, I visited Denong teahouse in Pasadena for tea tasting. I tried the "2019 JADE LEAVES RAW" and thought that it was average. I also tried some of their raw puers from Bana tea in the past and was not impress at all. However, I was quite surprise at how much I like their "2019 GOLDEN BRANCHES RIPE". It was very clean and clear in color (red and transparent instead of black and cloudy). The taste was not overwhelmingly earthy like the previous ripe puers from other vendors I drank in the past.

The person who was helping and serving my teas was Jeffrey McIntosh, a very knowledgeable and friendly guy. He boasted about how clean Denong teas are. He stated that all their teas since 2018 have been tested and passed SGS certification. SGS tested for 470 pesticide residues. I am well aware that passing these tests does not mean that the tea is safe to drink and that they are more common in big company who can afford to pay for the tests. However, what caught my attention was his mentioning of "aerial fermentation" for their ripe puers. He explained to me that in "aerial fermentation", the teas are fermented in a net above the ground so the benefit is that it will produce a very clean tea without the contamination of being on the floor. I have to admit, being a healthcare provider, I am appalled at some of the videos I saw on youtube showing people walking on the floor of these factories on their regular shoes! Anyway, he mentioned that this process is not new. It has been in use for more than 10 years but only for small batch special commissioned private teas and expensive tea like their "2012 SONG SONG CHA". All of their ripe puers from 2018 onward are fermented by this process.

As a tea consumer, I always want to drink good but also healthy teas. So I was intrigued and searched for "aerial fermentation" on Google but nothing came back. I also search from other tea vendors but none ever mention anything about above ground fermentation.

So tea drinkers and vendors...what is your thought about "aerial fermentation"? Is this a marketing gimmick or a true bonafide way to produce cleaner tea?
Last edited by vuanguyen on Fri Mar 27, 2020 9:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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debunix
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Sun Mar 15, 2020 5:03 pm

When it's safe to be out and about again, I'll check out Denong Tea house. I didn't know they were there.

I know zip about aerial aging.

I don't worry that much about microbial contamination of my puerh because I'm hitting it with boiling water before I drink, but some extra cleanliness might be nice. OTOH, I'm wary of saying everything needs to be done with excessive focus on sanitation because complex ferments often depend in complicated ways on things we are not always aware of, like cheeses that don't taste right after makers switch from wooden tubs, paddles, and shelves to 'clean' metal surfaces that hinder rather than promote a microbiological community that helps establish the characteristic flavor of the traditional cheese.
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Tor
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Mon Mar 16, 2020 1:57 am

离地发酵 (off-ground fermentaion) is easier to control, less production error, and have lighter fermenting smell, making it more approachable.
vuanguyen
Posts: 19
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Location: San Jose, California

Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:20 am

Thanks @Tor for your Chinese characters of aerial fermentation. I was able to search 离地发酵 on google and it came back with may hits. I have learned a lot from these Chinese sites with Google translate. The aerial fermentation is legit. I will buy more of Denong ripe puers. I hope that other vendors will carry more of this type of Puers in the future. Thank you!!!

http://www.puercn.com/puerchazs/peczz/120834.html
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Tor
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Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:51 am

You’re welcome, @vuanguyen. There’re increasing number of factories that are using this technique so we can expect more of it in the market. Many people still prefer the traditional style though.
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aet
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Location: Kunming ( China )

Mon Mar 16, 2020 7:49 am

vuanguyen wrote:
Sun Mar 15, 2020 12:45 pm
It was very clean and clear in color (red and transparent instead of black and cloudy). The taste was not overwhelmingly earthy like the previous ripe puers from other vendors I drank in the past.
sounds like you brewed your shu coffee style before . Cloudy tea is mistakenly associated with bad quality tea.
Sheng or shu can be murky cloudy and still high quality tasty tea...unless the part of the quality is judged the factor how clear the tea liquor is ( comfortable for eye )
Also you may noticed how the person was serving tea for you. Slowly gently poured tea into the pitcher to prevent bottom small bits get in. There are many ways how to brew the tea so it's nice and clean or vice versa. Basic training for girls working in our tea market.
The off ground technique might make tea taste different , yet not guarantee that any shu made this way will match your taste as the one you had in tea shop. If you like it, then buy it form them. Support their effort. It's a pain to send something form China now anyway, so at least your local tea biz can make some money. They will need it before quarantine arrives and will have to close down for some time.
vuanguyen
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Fri Mar 20, 2020 2:56 am

Beside Denong tea house in Pasadena can anyone recommend me a vendor that produce these "above ground" ripe Puer teas?
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Stephen
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Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:39 pm

vuanguyen wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 2:56 am
Beside Denong tea house in Pasadena can anyone recommend me a vendor that produce these "above ground" ripe Puer teas?
This is the only one I've tried. It was nice enough when I got it years ago, but wasn't my favorite. I tend to prefer larger leaf to buds. It sounds like it's aged well according to some of the reviews.

https://yunnansourcing.com/collections/ ... pu-erh-tea
vuanguyen
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Location: San Jose, California

Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:32 pm

Thanks @Stephen for your recommendation although I do not think this tea from Yunnan Sourcing is in the same high quality class as Denong's ripe teas.

I have never had good experience with Yunnan Sourcing. I have tried > 50 samples of their Puer teas over the years and the only tea I somewhat liked was their "2017 Yunnan Sourcing Nuo Wu Village Raw Pu-erh " :( I am aware that there are many praises for Yunnan Sourcing teas so I know I am an oddity.

Anyway, the search continue for a high quality "aerial fermentation" ripe Puer that is not made by Denong. Denong ripe teas are very good but I desire variety.
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Stephen
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Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:20 pm

@vuanguyen Sure, I understand, we all have preferences. I think the tea I linked is sold by YS, but not produced by them. I don't know of other sources for this type of fermentation. Another option might be to find a sheng puer aged in a humid environment (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Guangdong.) They can be similar to shu puer, but obviously not pile fermented.
mbanu
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:22 am

vuanguyen wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:32 pm
I have never had good experience with Yunnan Sourcing. I have tried > 50 samples of their Puer teas over the years and the only tea I somewhat liked was their "2017 Yunnan Sourcing Nuo Wu Village Raw Pu-erh " :( I am aware that there are many praises for Yunnan Sourcing teas so I know I am an oddity.
I don't think you are an oddity, I'm not a fan either -- I think Yunnan Sourcing is just exceptionally good at online guerilla marketing.
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debunix
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:22 am

mbanu wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:22 am
I think Yunnan Sourcing is just exceptionally good at online guerilla marketing.
YS is western facing, gives lots of descriptions, and has teas over a wide price range. When I first got started with puerh, it was a comfortable place to shop. There are a lot more shops now, and many of the handful of shops that present as more tightly curating their collection seem relatively intimidating due to high cost of entry.

And I've liked tea I've bought from them, so it remains a comfortable place to shop, especially for the daily drinker shous that work well in my shared-tea settings at work.
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wave_code
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Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:13 am

I started early on buying a fair amount from YS but was mostly drinking greens at that time, a bit of black and shu. I tried a couple of their house shu not too long ago, one was I THINK year of the goat and was alright, while most hit me as kinda nondescript they at least very clean and on the very affordable side, and it has in fact been on my list to get some inexpensive daily drinkers from them. I do also appreciate their interest and transparency over organic options and pesticide testing. Over time though I found I was drinking different tea that there were better vendors for... but frankly I found the marketing obnoxious. constant 3 day flash sales of random percentages off, facebook ads, more and more product, youtube videos, t-shirts, on and on... I can't even stand how many online companies track you all around the internet advertising much less these incessant constant attention grabbing strategies and "content" (sorry, I really have no interest in watching someone else drink tea, though I will say their personalities seem pretty chill and not annoying like some others). I understand competition and running a specialty business is difficult but the more I feel someone is trailing me around I react by going the opposite direction. However, I think a lot of this has a very big appeal to, I'm gonna go ahead and say it, younger Americans, and particularly men. Coming from there I can say for sure America is the land of consumer choice, and it resonated with a lot of people that volume of choice means better often rather than quality of available choices. Add that with there being more and more "content" to engage with then posting on reddit of all the things you bought and how you already have more on the way... the problem with this kind of engagement and growth that I don't see how it is long term sustainable. eventually even your most dedicated "fans" or customers will get burned out or be unable to keep up with your volume.

anyway, not to derail things... I haven't to my knowledge tried this fermentation style and would be kinda curious... if it is just a way of getting a particular desired flavor that all seems well and good. i'm wondering though if the concern about factory piling is so justified? yes people have to walk around but I would imagine/hope this is often done in workshoes/boots specific for wearing in the factory and once a pile is set its not like someone is walking all over it every day. as others pointed out you wash the tea first anyway to get the dust/whatever off, and the piling takes so long I don't see some bit of bacteria from someone walking nearby still being alive or active in a tea you drink months to years later. if such a thing were happening with a harmful bacteria or fungal growth then the piling process would be ruined anyway. like how for example if an strain of mold develops in a sourdough at home, you can tell and its no good then so you toss it. also if the tea is pressed its also going through a sort of flash steaming process then too as well right? While I think food handling safety is a valid concern most people would probably be surprised how many things they use/eat are made and processed compared to say hydroponic lettuce -cocoa, spices, certain types of beer, on and on.
vuanguyen
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Location: San Jose, California

Fri Mar 27, 2020 9:33 pm

My apology to Yunnan Sourcing for making a statement about my experiences with their teas. Just to clarify, I am not here to put down anyone business and way of making a living.

I just want to learn more about aerial fermentation and that's all.

Back to Denong's teas...I had the chance to taste the other teas I bought from them:

The "2019 GOLDEN BRANCHES RIPE" again was good. The "2018 CHERISHING DESTINY RIPE" and "2018 NEW FACTORY EDITION RIPE" were just...alright. The "2018 WILD RIPE" tasted weird...lots of green leaves and strange vegetable taste like green steam Japanese teas.

Peace and please practice social distancing.
Last edited by vuanguyen on Fri Mar 27, 2020 10:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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aet
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Fri Mar 27, 2020 10:15 pm

I think the best way to find someone who tried this particular tea as well and can recommend something similar. Reason I'm saying that is I had tried the shu puerh processed this way ( still have some ) , yet haven't found very different from regular fermentation. Yes, taste was bit different, but because different tea material, abut can't say that would be anything special...like cleaner or something. Tea still had "dui wei" , just because I've tried when was new made.

I understand your point because I went trough the similar process when loved some tea from certain producer and tried to find similar stuff from someone less know and therefore cheaper.
I went to area from where the tea supposed to be made and found out that the cake is actually not pure material but blend. Year later , by coincidence , I even found the village from where blended leafs come from ( because specific taste ) ...and even with all that I couldn't achieve the same taste as the company did. Just because the company knows their "know how" ( kill green temp. and time , ratio of blending ).

I also have very tasty and quite expensive shu puerh I have in my personal stash ( loose leaf made in small batches ). Again, I have found the area and actual factory who makes it for the one tea company which sells it as branded product.
This shu blows me away! I would live to sell tea like this , but no body would buy it online because the price. If you ask in community for what price they generally buy shu puerh and in what occasion they willing to spend extra $ form their standard ( and yes..it is not the special taste ) , it's just no point to offer it. Difference is if you have a chance to try it for free before you buy ( or at least for reasonable price and not waiting a months for sample to arrive ) ....like you got your chance to try in that shop.

So my advice is buy it from them so you have more time to learn the taste and then just try randomly shu puerh from different producers until you get lucky. You might be surprised that that taste you liked is actually not that expensive after all.
Again , I haven't tried that tea , so can't say for sure. If it's branded by their label, can't even find the original producer .Even if I try ( which would require me to buy it and ship to China ) I can't guarantee being able to find same taste.
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