Pu Er Teas
Technically defined as post-fermented, sun-dried green tea leaves, plucked from the Big Leaf variety of tea tree growing in Yunnan province. Pu Er teas belong to the post-fermented category which is called Hei Cha (black tea). This is not to be confused with what is called black tea in Western cultures (so called for the dry leaf color). Chinese call that Hong Cha or red tea (for the color of the liquor). Sometimes, to avoid confusion in English, the term Dark Tea is used to refer to post-fermented teas. This would include fermented teas from other places in addition to Pu Er which is the name of the tea trading town from ancient times. There are two types of Pu Er, Raw (Sheng) and Ripened (Shu or Shou). Sheng Pu Er requires aging and the longer the tea is stored, the better and more valuable. They are usually greener in nature with more vegetal tastes and more complexity. Shu Pu Er is made by an accelerated fermentation process and can be consumed immediately after it is made. They are much darker than Sheng Pu Ers, with more earthy characteristics and a smoother mouth feel. Sheng Pu Ers are most commonly pressed into cakes, melons or bricks. Shu Pu Ers can also be found in loose form as well as compressed. Pu Ers are well known to have health benefiting properties and can yield many infusions. Many people collect them just like vintage wines. An initial 10 second rinse-infusion is recommended.