PU ERH, AN ANCIENT TEA
Pu Erh, is a tea that undergoes a microbial post-fermentation that gives it a full earthy mellow flavors. It is an ancient tea from Xinshuanbanna County, in Yunnan.
From there, down the ancient caravan route of “tea and horses”, Pu Erh reached the neighboring countries.
The Pu Erh tea bush is a particular variety called Da Yeh, which can be both cultivated or wild. Pu Erh is appreciated for its beneficial properties: it is considered a natural de-tox and an excellent after-meal tea.
It is believed to encourage weight loss, reduce cholesterol and aid circulation. Pu erh tea have long been a national treasure in China, carefully regulated, and have for years been receiving increased interest outside their country of origin.
Pu Erh tea exists loose in leaves and compressed in blocks, discs and spheres; according to the processing methodology, Pu Erh could be Raw (Sheng - post-fermented naturally for many years, storing it in suitable environments, away from light) or Ripe (Shou-post-fermentation is accelerated by exposure to moisture for a few months). As raw pu-erh ages, it begins to develop unique characteristics in taste, aroma, and body.
The method for making Raw Pu Erh dates back to the Ming dynasty, while the Ripe method dates back to the 1970s.
The basic manufacturing steps are common to both types:
an initial phase of pan frying to limit enzymatic oxidation, ('kill green'), followed by rolling and drying the leaves for several days in the sun. The tea obtained is called maocha and post-fermentation occurs in two ways: slowly, aging the maocha for several years; or quickly "composting" the leaves in hot and humid conditions for several weeks.