Pu-erh tea (普洱茶, Pǔ Ěr Chá) is a famous Chinese tea and a specialty of Yunnan Province. It is also a national geographical indication product of China.
Theoretically, the traditional Pu-erh tea belongs to Chinese dark tea, one of the six main types of Chinese tea, but nowadays, due to the reputation and development of Pu-erh tea, some people consider Pu-erh tea is a special category of Chinese tea.
Pu-erh tea refers not only to a kind of tea name but also to the name of tea tree. Pu-erh tea is made from the fresh tea leaves of a special tea tree called “Pu-erh” that is mainly growing in Yunnan Province.
In addition, Pu-erh tea is a kind of traditional Chinese medicine. It is often used to detoxicate, clear heat, and treat headaches, dizziness, dysentery, etc.
Table of Contents
- History of Pu-Erh Tea
- Growth Environment of Pu-Erh Tea
- Characteristics of Pu-Erh Tea
- Ripe Pu-Erh Tea
- Raw Pu-Erh Tea
- Benefits of Pu-Erh Tea
History of Pu-Erh Tea
Pu-erh tea has a very long history. As early as 3,000 years ago, the tea farmers in Yunnan Province began to grow tea trees, but there was no name for Pu-erh tea at that time.
In the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Pu-erh tea began to be planted and produced on a large scale.
In the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Pu-erh tea played an important role in the national social economy and trade.
In the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), Pu-erh tea began to become a royal tribute tea and a national gift to foreign envoys. Emperor of the late Qing Dynasty said, “Drink Longjing tea in summer and Pu-erh tea in winter”. It can be seen how famous Pu-erh tea is.
Later, with the outbreak of war in the early 20th century, the whole tea industry in Yunnan Province was depressed and stagnant.
For a long time after 1949, Yunnan’s tea industry focused on green tea and black tea and did not inherit and develop the excellent tradition of Pu-erh tea. It was not until 1975 that Yunnan Province began to resume the production of Pu-erh tea.
On May 13, 2008, the Chinese government approved the implementation of geographical indication product protection for “Pu-erh Tea”.
In recent years, with the development of the social economy and the improvement of living standards, people began to attach more importance to Pu-erh tea due to its strong health care functions and charming taste. Therefore, the popular trend of Pu-erh tea can quickly be spread all over the world.
Growth Environment of Pu-Erh Tea
Yunnan Province has a long history of tea production and is an important tea production base in China.
Yunnan Province is located on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, which has abundant rainfall and many rivers and lakes. Most of its areas are warm in winter and cool in summer, and the four seasons are like spring, suitable for the growth of various crops. The capital of Yunnan Province, Kunming City, has the reputation of “Spring City”.
The production areas of Pu-erh tea are located in the southwest of Yunnan Province, mainly including Pu’er City, Lincang city, Baoshan City, and Xishuangbanna.
All the production areas have abundant sunshine, high humidity, abundant rainfall, deep soil layer, and high organic matter, which is very suitable for the growth of Pu-erh tea.
Characteristics of Pu-Erh Tea
Pu-erh tea has various shapes. Except for the Pu-erh loose tea, it also includes cake tea (cake-shaped), Tuo Cha (bowl-shaped), pill tea (pill-shaped), YuanBao tea (shoe-shaped), heart-shaped tea, etc.
The color of dried Pu-erh tea is usually black with brown or yellow. The color of its tea liquid includes agate red, amber, and black-brown.
With the development of Pu-erh tea, there are many new kinds of Pu-erh tea, such as Pu-erh green tea, Pu-erh black tea, Pu-erh oolong tea, Pu-erh white tea, Pu-erh yellow tea, and Pu-erh dark tea. It is one of the reasons why some people consider Pu-erh tea is a special category of Chinese tea.
But this classification is also controversial. For example, the Pu-erh white tea is named only according to the processing of white tea. In fact, in addition to the processing, the real white tea must also be made from the tree species of white tea. whereas Pu-erh white tea is made from the Pu-erh tea tree, not the white tea tree.
Pu-erh tea has the value of the collection. The more aged the Pu-erh tea, the more valuable it is. So people call it an antique that can be drunk, collected, and auctioned.
In recent years, as people pay more and more attention to healthy and safe foods, organic Pu-erh tea has appeared on the market. It is a high-quality Pu-erh tea that is non-pollution, pesticide-free, and additive-free.
Ripe Pu-Erh Tea
According to the method of fermentation, Pu-erh tea can be classified into ripe Pu-erh tea and raw Pu-erh tea.
Pu-erh tea artificially fermented by scientific methods is called ripe Pu-erh tea. The color of ripe Pu-erh tea is black-brown and its fragrance is similar to that of bean or jujube.
Raw Pu-Erh Tea
Pu-erh tea naturally fermented is called row Pu-erh tea. With natural fermentation, the color of raw Pu-erh tea will change from green to deep yellow then to reddish-brown. And its fragrance is similar to that of lotus or chestnut, and so on.
Raw Pu-erh tea tastes stronger and has a bitter taste. But as the raw Pu-erh tea is stored and aged for a long time, its taste will be milder and its value will be higher than that of ripe Pu-erh tea. High-quality aged Pu-erh tea is usually raw Pu-erh tea aged for many years.