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Puer tea, puerh or pu-erh

Briefly about puer tea

Puer tea is a member of the category of post-ripened teas, which is made in the southern part of the Yunnan province of China, around the Mekong River, the borders of Laos, Vietnam, and Burma.
According to the stories, it got its name from the town of Puerh, which was the main station and center of the Tea-Horse trade route. 
(You can see many spellings for the name of the tea: pu erh, pu er, puerh and puer are all correct).

Two types are known according to the method of processing: Shu (fermented, dark) and a Sheng (raw, green).
Post-ripened teas, as their name indicates, are suitable for long-term maturation, like white teas or roasted oolongs.

Cultivation and preparation of Puer tea raw material

  • Tea plant type: should be made from the Yunnan large-leaved variety (Da Ye Zhong; Sinensis Assamica) and several subspecies
  • Place of production - Yunnan: China has regulated which tea from which areas can be considered puer, a protected product.
  • Harvesting tea leaves: You can pick the leaves in spring, summer and autumn. Spring and autumn teas are the most valuable. Bud; bud+one leaf; it is taken in bud+two leaf combinations.

Sheng and Shu - Which puer variety should I choose?

Sheng – "green puerh"

  • Making clear, raw, green puer (sheng): The letters for a few hours dried in the sun, then in large woks – lightly fried. After rolled by hand: this breaks the cell walls so that the fermentation process starts with the release of the moisture inside the leaf, and the flavor and fragrance substances inside the leaf come to the surface.
    They rest and then dry again. The tea prepared in this way is called "Mao Cha", raw tea, which is either sold in the form of loose tea or taken to be pressed. (It ripens faster in fibrous form than in pressed form.) When pressedthe leaves again lightly steamingto soften it is wrapped in cloth and then a weight is placed on it, or pressed by machine into the desired shape. 
    After that the maturation process begins, so that the tea continues to develop and ripen during maturation, after 15-20 years. With a well-prepared Puer made from the right ingredients, the change in taste in a positive direction can take up to several decades.

The flavor of sheng puer is floral, fruity, slightly mineral. Of course, it depends on the tea from which tea hill, from which year we taste it, but these two characters can generally be said. If we prepare them at a lower temperature, they will be fruitier and lighter, if with hotter water, they will also have a pleasant tartness.

You can find our sheng puer teas here

Shu - "dark puerh"

  • Making dark puer (shu): The processing of dark puer is “Mao Cha” is the same as sheng puerthan. From here, however, the process changes: instead of steaming and pressing into shape, "they are pushed in", that is, they are piled in a moist environment, covered, imitating - and accelerating - the natural ripening process.
    During the wet raw material they are turned over several times, they are carefully sorted, so that only the best quality tea leaves remain in it and everything goes well during the ripening process. This process can take 6 months to 1 year, under the supervision of careful hands and expert eyes.

The taste of shu puer is earthy, oily and characterful. Due to its fermented nature, it reminds many of the autumn forest. It is often date-like, silky and spicy. We strongly recommend that you drink this type of tea instead of coffee! It's gentle on the stomach, keeps you awake without spinning too much, and is also delicious and tasty.

Steps for processing puer tea

The videos were shot on Jingmai Mountain in Yunnan Province. In the picture, you can see William, who is our dear puer maker friend, next to Balázs, Dóri, Era. He and his wife have been making promising teas for quite some time, which you can taste here.

wilted leaves are baked. The oxidation of the leaves is partially stopped.

The first steps in making puer tea are roasting the picked and wilted leaves that have been softened for half a day. The oxidation of the leaves is partially stopped.

Puer tea making: Hand twisting. After the heat treatment, the leaves are rolled so that the flavor and fragrance substances hidden in them come to the surface.
Puer tea Preparation: Here are the two processes together. "Kill the green" - heat treatment and hand spinning.

The processed puerh raw material is the pressing of "Mao cha" tea into discs

processed tea leaves are softened a little after drying to press them into discs. You can see the making of puerh tea discs in the video.

Mao Chafully processed and dried tea leaves are called raw tea. It is called that as long as it is fresh and not pressed into a disk. For all types of tea, "semi-finished" teas are called this.

A brief history of Puer tea

After drying, the processed tea leaves are softened a little in order to press them into discs. You can see the making of puerh tea discs in the video.

According to some researchers, the history of making puer goes back to 200 years before Christ, to the Han Dynasty. According to historical writings, tea was made by ethnic minorities primarily for their own consumption. It was sometimes exported to Tibet, Mongolia or Southeast Asia and was a commercial commodity.

Yunnan province was the starting point of the famous "Horse Tea Road" (茶馬古道) trade route, from which tea was transported to Tibet and northern China. It is considered the second "Silk Road". 
There was a practical reason for pressing the tea leaves into a shape (disc, brick or nest shape): it was easier to transport this way. Post-fermentation at that time was facilitated by adverse weather conditions, facilitated by Yunnan's humid climate and frequent rainfall.

Distribution of Shu Puer tea - Why is it so popular?

The technique of the accelerated ripening process was developed by the famous Meng Hai tea factory in Kunming in 1972. From here on, we know the concept of Shu Puer.
The technique of fermenting tea leaves already existed in other areas of China, such as in the Guangxi province, where a fermented tea called Liu Bao was already made.
The development of shu puer became necessary because people liked the taste of old, matured and ripe teas, to which they could achieve a slightly similar flavor after 40-50 years. A "faster" process was needed, which takes approx. It is possible to bring out matured flavors in 3 months.

The "puerh bubble" that inflated in 2003-2004 raised the prices to the sky, at which time many low-quality counterfeit teas entered the Chinese market. Teas from this time are still considered suspect and should only be purchased from a reliable source.

The main, famous and larger traditional puer tea factories: Menghai, Xiaguan, Kunming
Other factories with a good reputation: Haiwan, Xing Hai, Changtai, Mengku, Nan Jian.

Shu Pu tea should be purchased from medium and larger tea factories, as they have all the equipment for safe fermentation. 

Sheng puert, on the other hand, from smaller tea makers and tea farmers. Like smaller wineries, they live together with tea and make outstanding, personal and high-energy tea.

Making puerh tea at home - main parameters

Water: Soft water with a low dissolved mineral content, good taste (total dissolved mineral content: below 200mg/l; PH above 7) Spring water (Lajos spring) or filtered water, possibly supplemented with magnesium, are ideal.

Amount of tea leaves: The Asian preparation method is the most ideal for making tea. 
A larger amount of tea leaves (5-7 gr) and less water (140 ml) is recommended with a short steeping time (10-15 seconds).

Separation of pressed tea leaves: Use a knife for splitting Puer tea or a stronger, shorter (but not too sharp) blade to spread the leaves pressed into a disc. Be very careful when dismantling tea discs.

Making Shu and Sheng puer tea

light (sheng) puer it is recommended to start pouring at a lower temperature (85-90C) and increase the temperature as the pouring progresses. Gaiwanban (Chinese lidded cup) is worth preparing sheng puer teas if they are younger, Yixing clay pots are good for older people.
The soaking time is approx. 10 sec.

dark (shu) puer it can withstand heat and longer soaking, use a yixing clay pot to prepare it. They retain heat well and are easy to handle. The temperature can be raised to the boiling point, the soaking time is approx. 10 seconds, which could be increased as the pours progressed.

It's important to know! If you consume both sheng and shu puer, you must definitely pay attention to the preparation tool. If we were to use a porous, clay tool for both, and the same one, don't do it! The "memory" property of clay remembers the specific type of tea in its pores, so an unglazed clay pot is only suitable for making one type of tea.

To make tea, you can practically use traditional tools, but you can also choose from more modern ones, if you want to make delicious tea in the office or quickly. You can find tea making tools here.

Yixing clay pot for making Puer tea

Yixing clay jug

For sheng puer tea and Shu Puer tea over 3 years old, the unglazed, porous clay pot is the ideal choice.
It retains heat well and can keep the tea leaves at a relatively constant temperature between infusions.
Taking care of the pot requires a little attention, but it is worth trying and making it a permanent companion on your tea table if you like puer or baked oolongs.

Gaiwan

The most perfect tool for making tea is the gaiwan, i.e. cup with a lid, used in China.
A practical tool for younger sheng and shu teas.

The effect of puer on health

Puer tea is widely used in folk medicine in China. After a heavy meal, shu (ripened) puer and older, older sheng puer teas are excellent for digestion.

An interesting study on the effects of tea on health here and here.

What is the effect of Puer tea?

According to Chinese medicine, it has a beneficial effect on reducing high blood pressure, can also reduce high blood sugar levels, and has a beneficial effect on digestion, especially the Shu Puer tea type that has undergone accelerated fermentation. 
It has proven to be very effective for helping digestion, headaches, and keeping you awake after heavier meals.
You can find more information in the article.
It is also consumed by many people due to its energizing effect, it is an ideal and healthier solution instead of coffee. You can find more information in the article.

How do I make Puer tea?

It is recommended to prepare Puer teas with the Asian proportions and preparation method.
To make Shu Puer: (Tea that has undergone accelerated fermentation) Traditionally, you use 4 grams of tea leaves for 100 ml of water. Of course, you can deviate from this, according to your individual taste, but for those who have not yet consumed such tea, start with this ratio.
So. 4 gr tea leaves / 100 ml water. The water should be 100 C, after a quick wake-up call you can pour it several times. The soaking times are approx. They should be 20-30 seconds.
Preparation of sheng puer: use 85-90 degree water if you are dealing with younger sheng puer tea. The ratio of water and tea leaves is similar to that of shu puer.

You can also prepare it in a Western way. Then 5 g of tea leaves, using 200-300 ml of 95°C water and steeping for 1 minute is ideal. You can find more information in the article.

What is puerh tea?

Puer tea is a tea from the Yunnan province, which is also famous for its subtropical climate, and is a type of tea fermented naturally or with an accelerated process. Another criterion is that it is made from the local large-leaved tea plant and is usually pressed into a disk shape. You can find more information in the article.

Puer tea discs are air-drying

The entire tea making process takes 3 minutes. 

How do I make puerh tea?

  1. Measuring tea leavesIf you bought puerh discs in a tea shop, you were lucky enough to see them cut the required amount of discs for you with the help of a puerh splitting knife. Break off a tea-sized portion from this, which may vary according to taste.
  2. Tea leaves steeping timeAccording to the Western method: soak 5,5 g of puer tea in a 350 ml container with water at 100 C for 2 minutes, then filter. We can repeat the pouring 1 more time.
    The soaking time should also be 2 minutes.

    According to the Asian method, 5,5 g of tea leaves are poured into a 120 ml jug and filled with 100 C water. After a quick wake-up call, let's prepare our tea with a pouring time of 30-60 seconds.
    The leaves can be poured several times.
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