The tea also is known as “puer” or “puerh”in western countries. It derives it’s name from the city Pu Er in south western China, where the trade for Pu Er tea was conducted. Not far from Pu Er city in the areas of Xishuangbanna and Simao, south of Yunnan Province, the cultivation and processing of Pu Er tea is carried out till today.
With elevations of up to 2000 meters, the high altitude up in these mountains – where the air is cool and crisp -amidst scenes of unspoiled beauty and fertile lands, the tea plantations for this unique tea can be found. The secrets for processing Pu Er tea are carefully guarded.
Throughout history Pu Er tea was well known for it’s unique ability to undergo a post fermentation process designed for further aging. Like classic wines this aging process allows these fine teas to develop added complexity to its character while shedding it’s harsh youthful elements. The active microbes living within the tea has lead Pu Er to be known as “Living Tea”. This continuous evolution is very exciting for collectors of Pu Er tea who likes to follow closely the transformation of their fine teas after each passing year. Many believe that it is from these active microbes that Pu Er tea gets it’s many health benefits and reknown as a traditional medicinal tea with restorative powers.
A popular and insightful story about Pu-erh tea tells of a grandfather who makes fine teas for his grandson to enjoy. Pu-erh teas are stored and left to mature for decades like classic wines. These premium teas can fetch astronomical prices at auctions and are worth their weight in gold, often times more.
Pu Er tea has a wide spectrum of taste and aroma that is very compelling and at times uncompromising. Ranging from lightly floral, honey, heather and fruits to harsh peat, leather, organics, grass, tobacco, wood and deep earth, the taste and aromas of these fine teas are exceptionally varied. The color of young Pu Er tea can start from a golden yellow of summer hay before developing to a deep reddish brown reminiscent of the sunset after 30 years of aging. Black Pu-erh has an imposing aroma of heavy earth that is comparable to the sweet fragrance of mineral deposits emerging from deep within the forest floor after a heavy downpour. Good Pu Er tea has excellent clarity and clean flavors that is warming to both the body and soul.
It is on the hills around Pu Er where the oldest Pu Er tree stands, its age has been carbon dated at 1400 years.
Till today the tree has its leaves harvested. There are more Pu Er trees which are of similar age, so near the city of Menghai, another one with 800 years has also been classified.
There is truly magic surrounding Pu Er tea, as one can comprehend, people in these areas tend to live 100 years and more. On our visits we encountered one elderly tea grower, who drinks Pu Er tea throughout the day.
Over 70 years old, he still looks in his mid forties. What is even more notable is, he never visited a doctor throughout his live.
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