To make Pu-Erh, selected leaves are picked and may be allowed to wilt. The leaves are then baked in the sun or ovens to remove some water. After frying in a pan to stop most enzyme activity and to hinder oxidation, they are rubbed, rolled and shaped and then finally left to fully dry in the sun.
Sheng, or Raw, Pu-Erh is then pressed into various shapes (generally bricks, bowls or discs) and stored in caves or another area where the temperature and humidity can be controlled for an amount of time ranging from six months to many years. During this time, the flavor of the tea changes. Most agree the older the tea, the better the flavor. Sheng teas can be very astringent.
Shou, or Ripened Pu-Erh undergoes the same process with extended oxidation. Shou teas are usually extremely mellow as the tannin has vanished.
Before a tea can be labeled Pu-Erh, it must have been aged at least six months.
These pressed teas were originally designed for ease of transport. They were carried over the Himalayas by foot, to Russia by camel and Mongolia on ponies. During the transport, the tea would be exposed to different environmental situations that might affect the flavor. The end consumer could then 'taste the journey' in the tea.
When brewing, it is recommended to first quickly rinse the tea with boiling water. This can be achieved by adding just enough boiling water to cover the leaves and then immediately pour the water off.
The flavor of Pu-Erh is truly unique and memorable and a favorite of many. Our selection of Pu-Erh teas can be infused 5-20 times. Each infusion will create a slightly different flavor profile.