What is Puer Tea? 普洱茶
Puer Tea is a unique tea from the southern Yunnan region of China, that stands apart from all other tea for its complex flavors and pronounced health benefits. Here, in a patchwork-land of winding ravines and densely forested mountains, ancient tea-trees grow in their native environment as they have for many thousands of years. In remote, mist-shrouded villages built long ago upon ancestral farmlands, the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis Assamica, or broad-leafed tea-tree, are harvested by hand in the traditional way passed down from generation to generation. Through careful processing, these leaves, full of the vitality and character of the very mountains they grew upon, are transformed into Puer Tea: visceral, unique, and elegant. Puer is found in two broad categories: Ripe Puer and Raw Puer.
What is Ripe Puer? 熟普洱
Ripe Puer is a fermented tea, but differs slightly from its Raw counterpart in that after the leaf material is dried and rolled, it is subjected to a high-humidity wet-piling process in a controlled factory setting, to speeds up fermentation in the tea. During this piling period, naturally occurring microflora are added to the tea by tea experts in precise measure, fermenting the tea quickly and controllably. While this production method was originally developed to mimic the qualities of aged Raw Puer in less time, Ripe Puer has taken on an identity of its own, and is sought after by collectors and casual drinkers alike for its earthy, mellow flavors, and sweet lingering aftertaste.
What is Raw Puer? 生普洱
Raw Puer is the oldest form of Puer Tea. After the leaves are picked from trees, material from various mountain ranges are blended together, or left as a single-estate blend. The blended leaves are wilted in the sun and oxidized to the stage of a green tea. Then, after being steamed and pressed into cakes, the tea undergoes a fermentation process catalyzed by enzymes found within the tea leaves, and by external microflora living on the tea. During this fermentation period, sometimes taking upwards of twenty years to complete, the Raw tea develops its unique flavors, aromas, and health effects. Raw Puer is characterized by astringent, floral pungency for young cakes and a smooth, smokey savor in aged cakes, but can also contain vegetal, fruity, camphor, or earthy notes. This tea truly embodies the wild, uncultivated energy of the ancient lands it grows upon.