Pu erh tea is comparatively a strange name to American tea drinkers. Most Americans are still preferred to drink bagged tea unlike in Europe, Pu erh tea has grown wide popularity, and this special tea are even addicted by many Europeans.
In the United States, Pu erh tea is normally heard only when eating in Chinese restaurants. Pu erh teas served in the restaurant are mostly inferior quality, and tea is being brewed again and again which is really weak and tasteless. And restaurant staffs do not even understand how to properly make good tasting tea. But people are still shockingly impressed by this roughly brewed tea. I cannot imagine how people going crazy when have a properly brewed good quality pu erh tea.
Before we going straight to today's topic, some basic pu erh tea knowledge has to be explained. We previously posted information about varieties of pu erh teas and health benefits of pu erh teas. Today, we decide to do some brief introduction for how to get into pu erh tea.
Pu erh tea is mainly grown and produced in Yun Nan province where the altitude is located above 1000meters. You never understand how primeval this land is if you had never been here.
Some of counties in Yunnan grows good quality teas. They mainly produce raw(sheng) pu erh tea and ripe(shou) pu erh tea which are the two major types pu erh teas. Raw pu erh tea is made by primly selected quality leaves. Those fresh leaves not qualified for raw pu erh are finally used to make ripe pu erh. They taste totally different due to how these pu erh teas fermentation processed.
Ripe pu erh tea
Earthy, robust. This tea is being through man-made wet-heating pile-fermentation to fasten oxidation which is new process developed after 1970s for massive demanding from pu erh tea enthusiasts. Although this post-fermented tea can be consumed earlier than raw pu erh tea, still, the aging time will mellow and smooth out the tea.
Raw pu erh tea
If you like original eco tea, raw pu erh tea is best one to collect. Raw pu erh tea is a pu erh tea not being through pile-fermentation, but steam compressed and naturally aged. Raw pu erh tea has strong and irritating properties, new made tea and insufficient time aged tea taste bitter and sharp. New tea is relatively lighter in color, and it is very irritating, not recommended to drink when stomach is empty, especially to people who have stomach problems.
The natural aging of raw pu erh tea is quite slow. It takes years to convert its property, depending on the conditions of aging environment. The color of dry tea will turn from green to browner year after year. After years aging, tea will become more soothing and richer. Many pu erh tea lovers buy valuable new tea, properly store new tea at home and control tea aging by self, because good aged raw pu erh tea always costs more than improper aged tea. In another words, the price of good aged pu erh tea is higher than new tea.
Reference of pu erh tea in the shop
Not every expensive tea is right for you, sometimes less expensive and little fame tea isn’t bad though, nevertheless, not something extremely cheap. You don't have to go after those expensive genuine Lao Ban Zhang or Bing Dao which costs hundreds US dollars and up, per 357 gram tea cake. Because you have no idea what you are buying.
Mostly, ripe pu erh tea cakes are firmer compressed than raw pu erh cake. So after you receive a tea brick, you will need a prying tool to break pu erh tea. If you get a ripe tea, you will need to break it off a week before brew it. These type of tea need to be broken into small pieces and aired out evenly for a ultimate taste of pu erh tea. We don't have to be so serious about raw shaped pu erh, because it is compressed moderately in tightness. It can be easily picked off sometimes. But it does not apply to all of raw pu erh cake. Older aged raw pu erh cake is a kind of tight pressed, it depends on the manual skill by each farmer or manufacture. Anyway, the tighter pressed shape tea, the longer air-out time is necessary.
It is really overwhelmed when you have no clue how to find a pu erh tea. With this helpful routine, you will not be strayed again.