“Tea doesn’t cheat you, but it’s people who cheat”Chen Zhi-tong
Pu’ erh originated many thousands of years ago in the Yunnan Province of China. Related closely to the tea-trade between China and other countries, it is named after the town from which it was originally sold en route, Pu’er City. Pu’erh is aged in a process of slow fermentation, for up to 15-20 years to reach the ‘raw’ stage . It takes this long to obtain the rich, dark colour and deep flavour that pu’erh drinkers have come to expect. The longer it ages the richer and smoother the taste. In the 70s, a style of processing was developed to speed up the fermentation process. This was called the shou process. During the 1990s-2000s many fake pu’erh teas were created with tea leaves grown outside of the traditional Yunnan Province. This created a huge equilibrium of poor supply and high demand for the real deal. Thankfully this has all but resolved itself and pu’erh is back to the high quality tea it once was.
Pu’erh tea comes in many shaped forms, such as bricks, disc shaped cakes, or little bowl shapes called ‘tuo cha‘. These shapes made the transportation and storage of pu’erh far more convenient. It is available in loose-leaf form, occasionally in tea bags and can also come packed into bamboo stalks.
If you are after good quality pu’erh tea you will find an earthy richness in the flavour. Some people have said that drinking a good quality pu’erh has been known to induce a state known as ‘tea drunkeness’. Poor quality pu’erh can taste old, muddy or even mouldy. Pu’erh is often found blended and a traditional Chinese blend is using Chrysanthemum to create a cleansing tea. More modern blends include ginger, vanilla or mint. Chinese herbalists suggest pu’erh tea to assist with cleansing the blood, digestion and the health of the spleen. Quite often this tea is taken after a heavy or greasy meal and can be used as a preventative or even cure for hangovers. Studies have shown pu’erh tea can assist in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and increase metabolism.
How to brew Pu’erh Tea:
- Bring fresh, cold and ideally filtered water to the boil.
- Preheat your tea pot and cup with boiling water, then discard water.
- Measure tea leaves, or break a piece off the cake.
- Place tea leaves in the teapot and pour water directly over the leaves.
- Allow to steep for 5 minutes.
How to brew Iced Pu’erh Tea:
- Fresh Cold Water
- 30 g Brown Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Pu-erh tea
- ice cubes for serving
- Large Jug
- Boil water in a pot and then add the brown sugar. Stir until dissolved.
- Rinse Pu-erh tea leaves quickly with hot water and then add to the pot. Brew for 1 minute, turn off heat and leave covered for 4-6 minutes.
- Strain the liquid to remove the tea-leaves, cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
- Serve in a jug or glass with ice cubes.
If you would like to try some Pu’erh Tea have a look at Maitea they have a selection of these specialty teas and loads of great advice to help you with your choices.
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