Pu’erh tea can be purchased as either raw (sheng) or ripe (shu), depending on processing method or aging. The difference between raw pu’erh tea and ripe pu’erh tea is the pile-fermentation process. Raw pu’erh tea refers to the fact that green rough tea is not being undergone the pile-fermentation process and is completely natural converted which is traditional processing method.
Pu'er traditionally begins as a raw product known as rough (maocha) and can be sold in this form or pressed into a number of shapes and sold as raw (sheng). Both of these forms then undergo the complex process of gradual fermentation and maturation with time. The pressed pu’erh tea need to be pried apart before making a brew. There is a small trick on how to break pu’erh tea.
Raw pu’erh tea
Raw pu’erh tea is made from the fresh leaves of Yunnan big leaf tea tree which grows under the environmental conditions of pu’erh tea production area, and then made in to pressed tea by steps such as fixing, rolling, sun drying and autoclaving. It is also known as “green cake”, is relatively traditional processing method which is directly pressed into a cake without being artificial fermented, but relies on the passage of time of natural fermentation. The appearance of raw tea is dark green, and has golden yellow tea liquor. The aroma is more fragrant, the taste is thicker than ripe tea. It is a strong tea, not recommended to drink before meals.
Ripe pu’erh tea
Ripe pu’erh tea means that the tea is subjected to rapid fermentation by meaning of wet ripening, which promotes non-enzymatic natural oxidation of polyphenolic compounds that converts into tea substances and reduces bitterness and astringency to make the tea mellower. After special treatment, it is formed to loose tea or pressed tea. The ripe tea passes through the pile-fermentation moderately. The ripe pu’erh tea looks dark black with its reddish brown tea liquor.
Pressed tea is the main form of pu’erh tea including the form of blocks, tuo, cakes, or bricks. The tightness of pressed pu’erh tea is related to the post aging time. The tighter pressed tea, the slower aging and is more aromatic.
Unlike other teas that should ideally be consumed shortly after production, pu’erh can be drunk immediately or aged for many years; pu’erh teas are often now classified by year and region of production much like wine vintages.
Pu’erh tea has been celebrated since the Tang Dynasty (618AD-906AD) for its health benefits and curative powers in certain diseases. Modern medical science has recently shown that the health benefits of Pu’er tea may be more than just Chinese folklore. Since 1970 France, Japan and China have been conducting many scientific studies on Pu’Er tea which suggest that:
Keep drinking Pu'erh Tea, a way to good health.