The Pu Erh represents the most important Chinese tea production. Originating from Yunnan, it has conquered the world with its woody taste. Presented in patties or tuocha, Yunnan tea can be black or green. If its journey from the tea bushes to the teapot is epic, this infusion has virtues against cholesterol. Dive into Chinese Yunnan to learn all about the Pu Erh.
What is Pu Erh, the black tea of Yunnan ?
Already consumed by the Chinese more than 1000 years ago, the yunnan tea has known how to cross the ages to offer you its woody and camphorated taste. Adulated then banished, it has nevertheless become an essential production of the Chinese region of Yunnan. Discover the secrets of this delicate and luxurious drink.
What is the origin of Chinese tea ?
The origin of the yunnan tea is not entirely certain. In a distant era, the tea leaves were a currency of exchange between Chinese and Tibetan merchants. They used to follow the "Ancient Road of Tea and Horses". The tea leaves were then transformed into cakes easier to transport than loose tea.
At that time, the only existing Yunnan tea was green. Experts believe that due to the climatic conditions, the tea underwent fermentation. The green tea cake became dark. Its taste also changed.
How has Yunnan dark tea passed through the Chinese dynasties ?
Throughout history, the yunnan tea has had its moments of glory, but also its dark hours. Its first traces go back to the Tang dynasty when this tea was appreciated. Its production is important. All the families of the region will brew this treasure. It became the emblematic drink of the Chinese region.
But under the Ming dynasty, Yunnan tea almost disappeared. Banned, it was only made secretly in some remote places of Yunnan. It is compressed in the greatest secrecy and the wafers are kept in cellars.
How did Yunnan tea become "Pu Ehr Tea" ?
The patience and perseverance of the Yunnan Chinese finally paid off. Under the Qing reign, dark tea experienced a new flourishing period. The production of compressed tea started again. It changed its name to "Pu Ehr tea" or "Pu Erh tea", but its recipe remained unchanged.
Today, in its small porcelain teapot or its gaiwan, the yunnan tea remains, in its green version, the most consumed in the region. The fermented form is mostly exported to Europe and the rest of Asia.
How is Pu Erh, the dark tea, made ?
The yunnan tea is made according to a traditional method. Plucked from wild tea bushes, the leaves are processed before being pressed into the shape of the famous patties.
From which culture does Yunnan black tea originate ?
Pu Erh tea comes from the tea trees that grow on the land of the Yunnan mountains. These wild trees give quality leaves. The leaves of Camelia Sinensis are picked in bulk when they are young, but big enough. Then they are compressed in patties or tuocha, with or without post-fermentation.
What is the path of the mao cha tea leaf ?
The tea trees dedicated to Pu Erh grow in small gardens on the slopes of the Yunnan mountains. The trees of this land are not in contact with chemicals, so the teas are totally organic. The production of this quality tea is essential to the region. The trees and their adjacent woods are therefore cherished by the Chinese.
When are the tea leaves picked ?
These tea trees are picked twice. The spring plucking is known to give the best teas, but the fall plucking also gives high quality infusions. In general, the plucked parts have a tea leaf and a bud.
How are the tea leaves processed ?
The harvested product is placed on mats. After wilting, the leaves are crushed to promote post-fermentation. They are then put to dry in the sun. This step is crucial in the method of making Pu'Erh. Indeed, it allows to preserve the intrinsic qualities of the leaves of the tea plants.
At this point, the yunnan tea it is green and ready to be compressed into patties or aged in bulk. For a Dark Pu Erh, this is where the post-fermentation stage begins.
How does mao cha become a Pu erh tea cake ?
To make a pu Erh cake traditional, the mao cha must weigh exactly 357 grams. The leaves are placed in a cylindrical container. They are then steamed to relax. The mao cha settles. It is ready for the next step.
The tea leaves are poured into a cloth. The whole is shaped into a wafer shape and then pressed by a stone or any other heavy accessories. The wafers are then stored in drying rooms.
When they are dry, these patties are placed in bamboo baskets and begin their maturation. This fermentation stage will give them their characteristic taste and color.
What are the types of organic Pu erh ?
Depending on the method of fermentation, Yunnanese tea can be called raw or cooked. Purists call it Pu'Erh sheng cha or Pu'Erh shu cha.
What is raw Pu Erh ?
The raw Pu Erh teas are the green Pu Erh teas. They are sometimes sold under the name of tea Pu'Erh sheng cha or simply raw green sheng teas. The green Pu Erh is compressed into a wafer or tuocha and then matured in a humid cellar.
What is cooked Pu Erh ?
The Cooked Pu Erh is a post-fermented tea. These products are sold under the name Pu'Erh shu cha. Unlike the Pu'Erh sheng cha, the cooked Pu Erh has an accelerated fermentation process. The tea is sprayed with water and then covered with a tarpaulin. It then ferments in a warm and humid room. The pu Erh tea leaf patties thus obtained have a high price. The great vintages have flavors with notes of wood and camphor.
How to recognize a quality Pu Erh ?
Like oolong, the yunnan tea is often copied, but never equaled. Here are some indications to help you determine the quality of a Yunnan tea:
- Although compressed, the tea should have whole leaves.
- The leaves must give taste, even after several infusions.
- While Pu Erh does not have a "typical" taste, its aromatic notes should not have an earthy aftertaste.
- The cake or tuocha must be dense.
How to prepare a good Pu Erh ?
In China, the preparation of Pu Erh is almost a sacred act. Traditionally made in a gaiwan, this infusion is also enjoyed in a porcelain teapot.
The yunnan tea is presented in the form of a wafer or tuocha. It is then necessary to extract the desired quantity of leaves with a tea pick, or other accessories provided for this purpose. According to experts, this tool preserves the leaves better. You must then infuse the tea in water at 90°C. The leaves unfold their aromas and can be used for several infusions.
The post-fermented Chinese tea is also available in bulk. The price is more affordable, but the "typical" quality remains the same. This can be an alternative if you don't want to keep patties.
What are the benefits of organic Pu Erh ?
The manufacturing method of the pu Erh tea cake gives it a unique composition. This composition is at the origin of its benefits on cholesterol.
What is the composition of Chinese black tea ?
Young tea leaves have a high level of polyphenols. These decrease during the aging process, as the fermentation process brings out the fungi. This post-fermentation phase, similar to that of the black oolong tea, a study conducted by the University of Toronto's Institute of Nutritional Sciences reveals the cholesterol-lowering benefits of the infusion.
What are the "health" virtues of organic Yunnan tea ?
The yunnan teas have an effect on cholesterol. During its ageing, the Pu Erh cake is colonized by fungi whose properties are close to statins. The tea then produces an infusion that reduces cholesterol.
This fermented tea is also known for its digestive virtues. Also, it is commonly consumed after heavy meals rather than at the time of the famous "cup of tea".
What are the traditional uses of the Pu Erh tea cake ?
In the Canton area of China, Pu Erh is considered a medicinal drink. Sold under the name "yunnan tea" or "tuocha"It is known to lower cholesterol. In the West, the infusions from the mountains of Yunnan are also used to lose weight.
The pu Erh tea has crossed the ages to find itself in your cup. Traditionally grown and made, it brings you unsuspected medicinal virtues. Pour a little hot water on the young leaves and let the Yunnan tea unfold its charms.