Pu’er tea starts with the broad leaf tea plants that grow wild at high altitudes in Yunnan (southwest China) and surrounding areas.
First, the unique microflora and microfauna of the Yunnan region help give Pu’er tea its flavour profiles.
Second, Pu’er tea is processed differently from other teas. Leaves that become Pu’er tea are:
- heated at a lower temperature to other teas. This slows down enzyme activity, but doesn’t deactivate enzyme activity completely
- the leaves are then sun-dried and retain some moisture
- finally, the farmer either stone-presses the leaves into cakes, bricks or other shapes, or sells it loose
Third, the flavour of the tea depends on various other factors such as its age. When a Pu’er drinker ages a cake for several years or more, and if (s)he stores it well (by wrapping it in paper or a porous container), the tea will develop more mellow, sweeter flavours. Another important factor is the harvest area. Different hillsides naturally produce different-tasting teas.
What sets Cloud Nine Pu’er teas apart is that they are high-altitude teas from small-scale family farms. Most of the Pu’er teas we stock are raw and “young” (from the last few years) and should prove their worth as “drinkable antiques” in the years to come. Typical aromas and flavours of the best raw Pu’er include:
- peach and other stone fruits
- floral honey
There is also a slight astringency to young raw Pu’er, but this slowly fades into smoothness as the tea ages.
Pu’er Tea: the Raw and the Cooked
Besides raw Pu’er, Cloud Nine Teas also stocks an artificially fermented Pu’er from 2005. Another name for artificially fermented Pu’er tea is post-fermented Pu’er or cooked Pu’er. This type of Pu’er often recalls such tastes as:
- burdock or other root vegetables
Whatever fragrances and tastes you discern, you can’t be wrong. The tasting notes above are just a rough guide, and when you try Pu’er tea, you may discover more subtleties than we thought possible! The key is to taste different teas and taste them often. In this way you can develop your palate.
Lastly, just like great whisky or a fine bottle of wine, quality Pu’er tea is an investment in your health and well-being. To really appreciate the magic of Pu’er, we recommend you start drinking it!