Are you a fan of Chinese teas ? Then you certainly know the Pu Erh, originating from the province of Yunnan. To be enjoyed as an infusion, this variety comes in different forms. You will find it marketed in bulk, compressed in cakes or in nests called TuoCha. Here are the essentials to know about Pu Erh tea styles.
Discovering the TuoCha tradition
TuoCha is one of the most well-known forms of Pu Erh tea . It is sometimes mistakenly thought to be a variety. In fact, it is simply a style of presentation. The production is always the same, regardless of the final appearance of the product.
According to tradition, Pu Erh tea comes from the wild trees that grow on the mountains in the Yunnan region of China. The large leaves of the tea plants are harvested and dried after being spread out in the sun. Then they are moistened and stored in a warm room. This causes a fermentation phenomenon characteristic of Pu Erh tea. Finally, the leaves undergo another drying period, before being sorted and compressed into nests.
To achieve this result, the pressing is done in bamboo molds that are shaped like a bowl. Generally, when Pu Erh tea is marketed in TuoCha, it is packaged in small quantities. It can vary between 100 and 500 grams.
Pu Erh tea presented in the form of wafers
Another common form of presentation for Pu Erh tea is the compression into wafers. The manufacturing process is similar to that of TuoCha. Again, the producers select leaves from wild tea bushes, which grow naturally in the Yunnan province in China. The Pu Erh has a protected geographical indication that certifies that it comes from trees exclusively from this region. The production steps are always the same: harvesting, drying in the sun to promote oxidation, then fermentation.
Then, the tea is compressed into cakes of varying weight and size. Generally, you will find Pu Erh packaged by 357 grams when it comes in this form (sometimes in 400 or 500 grams). Originally, the purpose of pressing was to facilitate the storage and transportation of this post-fermented tea. Moreover, it allows to preserve it more easily, which is then advantageous since Pu Erh is known to improve during its aging.
So you are wondering how to start a cake to prepare your infusions? It does require some accessories to help you keep your Pu Erh tea longer. For example, you can use a knife or a pick, specially designed not to damage the dried tea leaves.
Yunnan tea sold in bulk
Like other teas, Pu Erh is also sold in bulk. This does not change the way it is made, nor its qualities and virtues. The leaves are simply not compressed after the sorting stage. This form is more common in Western countries. You will find packaging of different weights. However, you should note that when it is in bulk, the post-fermented tea will age more quickly than in compressed cakes or nests. It will therefore keep less easily.
Whatever form you choose, you will enjoy a cup of Pu Erh tea to appreciate its typical taste with woody notes.