Pu-erh tea (also spelled puerh, pu'erh or puer) is one of the oldest type of tea in China with a rich history of over 1700 years that can be traced back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD).
During it's height of popularity, the tea was freely traded and even used as money for the bartering of goods.
Premium blends were offered as a type of "tribute tea" to honor the Emperor of China. To this day, these fine varieties remain a highly valued commodity.
Puerh is revered in China as a traditional medicinal tea with many health benefits — and regarded by tea connoisseurs as the King of Tea for its unique flavor and aroma.
Also known as po lei in Cantonese, this tea gets its name from the city called Puerh in southwestern China, where trade was conducted.
Not far from the city in the areas of Xishuangbanna and Simao, south of Yunnan Province, cultivation and processing of the tea is carried out to this day.
The secrets for processing are carefully guarded. It is said that, in the past, trespassers mistaken as spies have been known to be killed on private tea plantations.
Throughout Chinese tea history, this unique tea has been known for its unique ability to undergo a post-fermentation process designed for further aging.
Like classic wines, this aging process allows these fine teas to develop added complexity in character, while shedding harsh youthful elements.
Many believe that the active microbes that live within the tea produce many health benefits and give the brew its recognition as a traditional medicinal tea with restorative powers.
Tea Flavor and Color
This enticing tea has a wide spectrum of tastes and aromas that range from lightly floral, honey, heather and fruits to harsh peat, leather, grass, tobacco, wood and deep earth.
The color of young tea can start from a golden yellow of summer hay before developing to a deep reddish brown reminiscent of the sunset after 30 years of aging.
Black blends have an imposing aroma of heavy earth comparable to the sweet fragrance of mineral deposits emerging from deep within the forest floor after a heavy downpour.
Good brews have excellent clarity and clean flavors that warms the body and soul.
This article was written by Varat Phong of Puerh Cha.