Everyone knows I love everything China! My wife’s friend, Wei, who is a native of China gave her some Pu’er tea to try, and it had been sitting around the place for some time. She also, just the other day, gave her a tea brewing set. So, today I decide to give it a go.
Pu’er or pu-erh is a variety of fermented tea produced in the Yunnan province of China. Fermentation in the context of tea production involves microbial fermentation and oxidation of the tea leaves, after they have been dried and rolled. This process is a Chinese specialty and produces tea known as 黑茶 hēichá (literally, ‘black tea’) commonly translated as ‘dark tea’. This type of tea is different from what is known as black tea in English, which in Chinese is called 红茶 hóngchá(literally, ‘red tea’).
Pu’er traditionally begins as a raw product known as “rough” máochá (毛茶) and can be sold in this form or pressed into a number of shapes and sold as “raw” shēngchá (生茶). Both of these forms then undergo the complex process of gradual fermentation and maturation with time. The wòduī (渥堆) fermentation process developed in 1973 by the Kunming Tea Factory created a new type of pu’er tea. This process involves an accelerated fermentation into “ripe” shóuchá (熟茶) which is then stored loose or pressed into various shapes. The fermentation process was adopted at the Menghai Tea Factory shortly after and technically developed there.The legitimacy of shóuchá is disputed by some traditionalists in contrast to aged teas. All types of pu’er can be stored to mature before consumption, which is why it is commonly labeled with the year and region of production.
I was amazed at how awesome it is! The citrus variety, as far as I understand, comes packed in mandarin oranges that you steep along with the tea. I’m drinking it over ice. I don’t know if that is traditional, but I’m not necessarily interested in that as I am not quite a tea snob. All I know is that everyone should try it!