Puerh Tea – Origins, History and Characteristics
Puerh Tea is he oldest known traded form of tea, today counting among the truly ‘Great Teas of China’. It’s got its name from the eponymous city and prefecture ‘Puerh’, located in the Chinese province of Yunnan, the cradle of tea, where it evidently has been produced and traded since about the 4th century AD. Tea produced according to the same method outside of Yunnan, in China is not called Puerh tea, but ‘dark tea’ (chin. ‘Hei-Cha‘). Puerh tea found its way to other parts of world aready starting from around 1000 AD via the Tea Horse Road, a trail, on which Puerh Tea should be transported on mule’s back for the centuries to come and until the the midst 20th century from Yunnan northwards across all of China and until Lhasa in Tibet. There, the tea was traded against horses, which in those days were much sought after in China. Contemporary sources reveal that in those days a return trip from Yunnan to Lhasa on the tea horse road took people a full year and was infamous for putting the traders’/travelers’ endurance to a harsh test. The limited transport capacity of the carrier mules has most probably helped inspiring the tradition of pressing Puerh tea into disc or cake form for easier. However, the pressed form also has effects on the ripening process, which in turn can produce refinements in taste. dings hat die Pressform auch Auswirkungen auf den Reifungsprozess, die sich in geschmacklicher Verfeinerung niederschlagen können.
In principle, Puerh tea is distincted in two basic categories, ripe Puerh tea (‘shu’ Puerh tea) and unripened (‘sheng’) Puerh Tea. As opposed to other tea categoires (green tea, Oolong tea, black tea, etc.) the processing of Puerh tea isn’t about stopping the oxidation process at a certain point and fixate the tea leaves through exposure to high temperatures (roasting or steaming). Instead, the particular character of Puerh tea is based on a (post) fermentation process under controled conditions, which until not so long time ago used to take many years. While the initial steps of Puerh tea processing (such as the sundrying process) appear to be rather easy when compared to other tea types, the ripening is a highly complex process requiring the continous monitoring and intervention of a competent tea master. The much quicker method of ripening a Puerh tea commonly used today has been developed by Chinese tea researchers only during the 1960s. Our Ancient Phoenix Ripe Puerh Tea, for example, already goes to the market after only about 5 years. You will find more general information about the history, cutlivation and processing of Puerh tea in our dedicated article at Siam Tee Blog:
Quite a number of positive health effects are generally attributed to Puerh tea. Sheng Pu Erh teas in particular are related to anti-aging effects, promoting digestion, support of weight loss, improvement of eyesight, detox and anti-inflammatory effects and strengthening of blood circulation, among others. Where it comes from, it is also considered as an effective means to overcome the effects of excessive alcohol intake (‘hangover’). Especially the longterm, regular consumption is supposed to have balancing effects with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, thereby preventing cardio-vascular diseases and cancer.
Wild Purple Buds Sheng Pu Erh Tea
“This tea will rock your world! I have seen people get high from this tea, I have seen women moan in ecstacy after drinking this tea and yes this tea is totally legal. It is a wild purple Puer from the rainforests of southern Yunnan. A rare and exotic find”! These words by J. T. Hunter, author of ‘Wild Tea Hunter’ and ‘The Wild Truth of Tea’, about Wild Purple Buds Sheng Pu Erh Tea might reflect a light tendency of the author towards exaggerations, but every connoisseur of raw (unripened or ‘sheng’ Puerh teas upon trying this tea will immediately understand what is meant.
The dry buds display three different basic colors, purple, green and yellow, which are turning brighter and gain volume in the infusion. The infusion color itself is a pale bright yellow with a light touch of purple. Both taste and fragrance are dominated by floral, honey-like notes. This tea has everything that can enthrall about a sheng Puerh tea, and none of what you might have considered as undesirable about this type of tea so far. Whoever felt disappointed of raw Puerh teas in the past, should give it another try with this one.
Wild Purple Buds Sheng Pu Erh Tea is picked from wild tea trees in the widely untouched forests of Lang Cang River in Pu Erh. Tea master Chen Mei, whose family is part of the Dai ethnic group, has spent most of her life honing her skills of picking and processing the leaves of these wild, ancient tea trees, which are revered as powerful spirits by her people, who believe that those ancient spirits have helped and protected them through difficult times such as the war against the British in the 1930s. During the cultural revolution, the government ordered all ancient tea trees in Yunnan to be cut. Intended purpose of this measure was to set a mark against the old traditions attributed to imperial China and cut people’s ties to those traditions respectively. Chen Mei’s grandfather, who was tending the family’s ancient tea tree plantation at that time, forbid his fellow villagers to cut the beautiful old trees and told them that he protect the tea trees with his life, if necessary. Thanks to his daringness, the tea plantation of Chen Mei’s grandfather remained intact over the whole period of the cultural revolution and today is considered the most precious jewel among the mountain’s tea tree forests. The exceptional properties of this rare and only limitedely available tea have been subject to indepth scientific study in China.
Pour 250-350ml water of a temperature of 90!C-100°C over 3-5 grams Wild Purple Buds Sheng Pu Erh Tea and let infuse for 1-2 minutes for a first infusion. Steeping time second and third infusion slightly reduced (45 seconds and 1 minute). With gradual increase of infusion period for following steeps by ca. ½ Minute each, this tea will produce a long range of declicious infusions.