Pu-erh tea

Foods & Drinks

  • Author Igor Jan
  • Published February 23, 2007
  • Word count 572

Tea has been one of the stimulates for people since ancient ages. Chinese and Indians have used tea traditionally for a long time. There are different varieties and grades of tea available in the market and they are primarily categorised based upon the leaves they are made of. One of the varieties of tea is Pu-erh tea which is traditionally a Chinese variety of tea. The Pu-erh tea is made from a variety of tea leaves which is known as the “Camellia sineses”. It derives its name from Pu-erh county near Simao in Yunnan China. The tea is a variety of green tea or post fermented tea and depends on the processing method and aging. Pu-erh is sometimes ignored as a green tea because of the aging and is regarded typically as a post-fermented product. One of the most interesting aspects of Pu-erh is that it can be consumed immediately after production or can be taken after many years. It may not be impossible to find a variety of Pu-erh that is 10 to 50 years old and a few from the Qing dynasty as well. Tea lovers are sometimes ready to pay a hefty price for varieties of Pu-erh which are aged for a long time.

The History of Pu-erh is as interesting as the tea itself. The tea was found in the Pu-erh county in China as well as some of the tropical regions of Burma, Vietnam, Laos and the eastern parts of India. Pu-erh is generally pressed into tea cakes and aged for a long time, method which may have originated thousands of years ago by tea drinkers, merchants or people who travelled on Caravans along the Ancient tea route. As for the production of all kinds of Pu-erh, it is prepared from Maocha. Maocha is ripened for several months and ca undergo ripening for several months before it is compressed to produced raw Pu-erh.

The classification of Pu-erh is done by several methods. Aprt from the number of years that the tea is aged, classification can be done based on the shape, processing method, region of production, cultivation, grade and the season. Pu-rh is compressed into a variety of shapes such as “melon pagodas”, pillars, calabashes etc. The method of cultivation of pu-erh tea can be done by three methods. The first method is “Plantation bushes” where tea bushes are cultivated from the seeds or cuttings of wild tea trees and planted on low altitudes of the mountains and on a relatively flatter terrain. In this method of production the leaves produced are of inferior quality because of the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. In the second method of production in which Pu-erh is prepared from “Wild arbor” trees which produce higher quality of the tea because of the higher levels of secondary metabolite present in the trees. In the third method of production the tea is produced from wild trees. These variety produces the highest grade of the tea. YoungPur-eh leaves produced from the leaf tips of the these trees often lack the bitterness associated with the Pu-erh leaves.

There can be ten or more varieties of Pu-erh determined by leaf size and quality with the highest grade for the older and unbroken leaves. The Spring Pu-erh is most valued followed by the fall and last is the summer Pur-eh. So, next time you order your Pu-erh take note of all the above factors and enjoy your tea.

I run a small tea shop. And I would like to share my abundant knowledge about teas with everyone.

Here is the link to my web site. Note it is in Slovenian language. Čaj čaji Čajnica

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Article comments

Gilbert de Gourville
Gilbert de Gourville · 14 years ago
I am looking for PU-erh tea in London, Ontario or even in Toronto. Can you help me locate it. Thank YOu

Sandra Grossman
Sandra Grossman · 16 years ago
We were recently in Beijing and did not buy the puehr tea from the tea house. We would like to know if there is anywhere in Toronto, i.e. health food stores or China Town that we could buy this, or from a herbalist? Can you find this out for me and get back to me.

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