; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Steaming Apart a Puerh Beeng ;

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Steaming Apart a Puerh Beeng

When a machine compressed puerh tea is too tight for a knife or pick, I risk injury to my fingers and hands. A pair of pliers will break off chunks, but this breaks the tea leaves too, and sometimes I want loose, whole leaves rather than a chunk. Steaming apart the compressed tea is the only answer, but we rightly worry over subjecting our dear teas to any process. Today I steamed apart a heavily compressed beeng of red tea, and I will show some photos of the process I used.

This cake is 2013 Drunk on Red by Yunnan Sourcing, a very inexpensive 100g black/red tea. Unfortunately this tea is sold out, except for one production with snow chrysanthemum added. I hope YS will do this production again someday. I paid around $4 for it, and the tea is so compressed that I cannot remove any tea. I want to use this tea in my new Teforia machine so I need actual leaves and not chunks, and I plan to tin up the leaves to drink over a month or so.

Steaming a tea is very simple using a strainer and a bit of water underneath in a pot. I made sure the water did not touch the strainer.

Once the water boils, I just need to let it steam a couple of minutes. Keep in mind a lid is needed to start the steaming, but drops of condensation off the lid will drop down through the tea. I don’t want too much dripping or basically I will have drip-brewed tea water.

I turned out the beeng onto a plate. The leaves are hot and steaming, but not drippy wet.

Now the beeng is very loose around the edges, so I can pry it apart with a fork. The middle of the beeng is still mostly dry, however I can break apart some of the chunks with my fingers or just leave them chunk-y if I wish.

Finally I spread the tea out onto a flat pan and set it out to dry. The tea will be dry later in the evening so I can tin it up.

No one needs a guide on how to steam apart tea, but sometimes looking at photos helps with making a decision on whether to steam. I imagine most of us would not want to do this with precious tea, but with hardy teas like bricks or tuos, or teas of ordinary quality, steaming is certainly an option. The tea can go into a caddy and rest until brewing time.


I want to congratulate two puerh writers for their recognition in recent days. Max Falkowitz received a 2018 James Beard Award for his Saveur magazine article “The Pu-erh Brokers of Yunnan Province.”

I was lucky to meet Mr. Falkowitz in 2016 in NYC during the Saveur Blog Awards, and I am grateful for his support of puerh writing.

Congratulations also to MarshalN for his nomination this week for Blog of the Year by the 2018 WorldTea Expo’s World Tea Awards. MarshalN’s “A Tea Addict’s Journal” is one of the longest-running puerh blogs in English. 

If you are new to tea, I highly recommend reading his blog from start to finish. This is the first year that a Tea Industry business association is recognizing puerh blogging, long overdue.

Cups up, friends, and cheers to both of these incredible writers!

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