Pu-erh Tea: Earthy & Bold Thursday, April 10 2014
Pu-erh has a rich and earthy flavor with an aroma reminiscent of damp soil. Coffee drinkers often appreciate its deep, intense flavor and high caffeine content, while the media has trumpeted it as a “diet tea,” proclaiming its high caffeine levels may increase energy levels and speed up metabolism.
While a bit intimidating in flavor to some, many Pu-erh blends exist that mellow its flavor, making it more palatable for those with a sweeter tea preference. We recommend Spicely Organics’ best-selling Vanilla Chocolate Delight Pu-erh with cacao nibs, cinnamon, vanilla and stevia leaves for a dessert-like drink.
Pu-erh’s invention rose from the tea trade between China and neighboring nations during the Han dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). Merchants transported the tea from the Yunnan Province of China, where it is produced, to the northern border populations of Mongols, Tartars and Tibetians. For efficient transit, travelers compressed the tea leaves into small disks before setting off for their destination. During the lengthy trip, the cakes (called beeng cha) underwent natural fermentation, developing their signature color and earthy flavor now associated with Pu-erh.
Today, Pu-erh comes available in many shapes besides the disc, including bricks, squares and mushrooms. These types of compressed Pu-erh, called Sheng Pu-erh, are also known as raw, uncooked or green pu-erh and go through natural post-fermentation. A second type, sheng Pu-erh, instead undergoes rapid fermentation and is referred to as cooked or ripe Pu-erh.
Whichever type or blend you prefer, it can and should be reinfused several times to enjoy the many phases of flavor it is capable of. You’ll find that with each brew, Pu-erh develops subtle nuances a true tea-lover will appreciate.