Do Pu-erh tea and wine have anything in common?

What exactly is Pu-erh tea

Pu erh tea

There is one variety of tea called pu erh that makes me think of wine. It becomes better with age just as wine does. It is said that some pu-erhs can be found today that are over forty years old. These teas are very high priced, again just as fine aged wines are high priced.


Where does Pu erh get it's name

If you are wondering where this tea gets its name, it is named for the town where farmers brought their tea to be traded and sent to other areas. In the Yunnan province of China there is a small town named Pu-erh. This was a trading center for the Yunnan teas.

How is flavor determined?

All teas are affected by the soil it is grown in, climate, and weather conditions. These things combine to cause the unique flavor of each one. Pu erh is no different.

Most  are processed over a relatively short period of time.  They are ready to drink very quickly. Pu-erh is unique in the fact that it is aged, as already mentioned, sometimes for many years. This aging process causes its flavor and color to change over time.


Flavor is also determined by the processing

The flavor is also determined by whether it is green (raw) or black pu erh (cooked). Green Pu erh is made with sun-dried green tea leaves, followed by a steaming.  The next step is to compress the leaves before being dried in stages. The black type is processed in piles which promotes fermentation through organisms, think cheese. Remember cheese is good, so is pu-erh tea. The next steps in Black Pu-erh are steaming, compressing and drying.


Why pu erh is a good thing

How can this compressed tea positively affect your life and health?  Just like other teas this one is also credited with offering us health benefits. It helps us to digest fatty foods which make it a good beverage for after dinner. Many use it to help with weight loss because it increases the metabolism. It is also used to help hang over after drinking alcohol. I find that interesting since its aging makes me compare it to wine

Loose leaf pu-erh tea is available today. It is also found pressed into forms. I saw some of these pressed teas when attending tea classes in New York City. I remember thinking at the time they would make great accent pieces to give my kitchen that personal touch. Some of the molded forms are very interesting and artistic. They are definitely conversation pieces. That would be a side benefit until I chose to brew tea with them.


The story on the tea brick

You may be wondering, why make tea bricks? In the ancient past tea was pressed into forms or bricks to make transporting more of it possible. At that time China was sending this precious and expensive cargo to places like Tibet, Sichuan and Mongolia. It was carried on mules over dangerous roads. The trip took many months.

This same method was used when the Russian nobility and then the common people began to drink large amounts of tea. The transport actually took a year. We can see why compressing the product in order to send more quantities of it made the best sense. China was trading vast amounts of tea and it was important to its economy.

In this world we live in today it is hard to imagine waiting so long for a beverage we enjoy drinking. Thankfully, we simply place an order on the net and wait for Fed-Ex to deliver to our door. We can even have it over night if that’s what we need.

For the best way of brewing pu erh tea see this

article. Here you will find an article on other varieties of tea.

Other articles

Health benefits of pu erh more information

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