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About Pu erh Tea

The Taste of Age

Pu erh tea takes its name from the trading post in China’s Yunnan Province where fermented and aged hei cha (or ‘dark tea’) from surrounding provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan and Guangxi was traded into markets further west. For a dark tea to be called Pu erh it must originate from within Yunnan province.

Often referred to as vintage or aged tea, Pu erh teas have long been a cherished national treasure within China, carefully regulated, and are only now receiving heightened interest outside of their country of origin. Likened to fine wines, a degree of knowledge and connoisseurship goes a long way in enhancing appreciation of this tea type.

The Taste of True Pu erh Tea

The careful ageing process of Pu erh tea adds a fascinating dimension to the taste; maturing the tea into something richer, smoother mellower and more complex, yet without losing the original life of the young fresh leaf. Whether young or mature Pu erh teas are characteristically earthy, mellow and balanced. Our Royal Pu erh an outstanding example an extremely rare and beautifully aged cooked Pu erh from the 1990s.

2008 Cooked Pu erh Mini Cakes Loose

How Pu erh Tea is Made

The Key: Careful Ageing

Dark tea is post-fermented by the action of microbes naturally present on the tea leaves. Processing is at first similar to white and green tea, an initial sha qing (‘kill green’) phase by pan-frying is followed by rolling and sun-drying of the leaves. However the sha qing phase is incomplete, so enzymatic oxidisation continues within the leaves during drying. At this stage the tea is called maocha and post-fermentation happens in one of two ways: slowly by aging the maocha over several years; or quickly by piling the leaves in hot and humid conditions for up to two months (known as shu pu’er).

Raw Puerh

01_Picking

PICKING

Pickers carefully and quickly select suitable leaves from the tea bush.

07_Sun_Drying

SUN DRYING

Sun drying is a natural way to fix and dry the tea.

04_Shaping

SHAPING

To create the unique style of each tea, for example as a pressed cake (bing) or tuo

10_Ageing

AGEING

A slow process of maturation of the tea creating a new flavour profile.

Cooked Puerh

01_Picking

PICKING

Pickers carefully and quickly select suitable leaves from the tea bush.

07_Sun_Drying

SUN DRYING

Sun drying is a natural way to fix and dry the tea.

08_Composting

COMPOSTING

The leaves are piled in heaps to create humid conditions for further oxidisation.

05_Drying

DRYING

To reduce the moisture content of the leaves to 5% for storage.

04_Shaping

SHAPING

To create the unique style of each tea, for example as a pressed cake (bing) or tuo

10_Ageing

AGEING

A slow process of maturation of the tea creating a new flavour profile.

Pu erh Tea Making Tips

Key Making Tips

Pu erh teas are best made in short repeated infusions using a traditional Gaiwan or small volume tea pot.  Traditionally the leaves are washed with boiling water (discarding the first infusion), with subsequent infusions being appreciated for their changing character and taste. The best Pu erh teas can be infused up to 7 times – each infusion offering something subtly different.

Our Favourite Pu erh Teas

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2009 Wild Arbour Raw Pu erh

A raw puerh picked from ancient tea trees in Banzhang, Yunnan

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2008 Raw Pu erh Mini Cakes

Single portion mini cakes of well balanced raw pu erh

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1990s Royal Cooked Pu erh

Single portion mini cakes of beautifully balanced puerh

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Pu erh Tea Explorer

Our Puerh tea explorer inctroduces some favourite cooked and raw varieties, dating from 2003 onwards

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