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The growing awareness of Pu-erh tea awakens the interest of tea drinkers around the globe. Here I would like to present in detail how Pu-erh is made, how to classify it, how to brew it, how to appreciate it and what you should consider in respect purchasing Pu-erh tea and last but not least storage and health. In my remarks I rely mainly on the book "Pu-erh Tea" written by Wang Jidong, the English Wikipedia article, the Teetalk.de Forum (especially Gero and Key, who constantly encouraged me and have proofread), my own experience with Pu-erh tea and the rest of the World Wide Web (additional links in English, German and Chinese languages will follow).
I also want to point out to the reader that I will work here with a lot with Chinese characters. You must not be able to read or understand necessarily, but they help tremendously to provide clarity in this issue, e.g. some terms might be misleading or inherit other disadvantages in either German or English. Tasting complacent? The most widely used form of Pu-erh tea is Bing, which is transcribed but in correct Pinyin Bǐng, but is written by Wade-Giles Beeng. In German, you can now describe as the German "Pfladen" (same as horse poo) and in English it can be as translated as cake or disc. Why not simply "饼"? So install, unless already done, the East Asian language pack and you will also enjoy ultimate aesthetics of Chinese writing.
The name of Pu-erh tea in Chinese is pronounced pinyin "pǔ'ěrchá" and is written as"普洱茶". The name derives from its origin, the prefecture Pu-er in Yunnan Province, China. In Chinese the Pu-erh plant is also called "Qing Mao", is a subspecies of the common Camellia sinensis plant (Camellia sinensis var. sinensis; The "normal" tea plant in China). Camellia sinensis var. assamica (respectively var. thaliensis and numerous var. Assamica Derivatives) is the scientific name for most pu-erh teas. It's also considered one of the possible primitive forms of the present-day tea plant. With adequate moisture and heat the Pu-erh plant reaches the size of a full grown tree.
Pu-erh tea is attributed to an improvement in digestion, cholesterol levels and blood pressure in Chinese medicine (I would like strictly point out that no studies are available of the offered tea on this web site). There are scientific studies that prove that (for all who want to know more on the subject, I refer to the scientific posts here, here and here). On the other hand excessive consumption of Pu-erh in Tibet has led occasionally to fluorosis (more information here and here). Also drinking Pu-erh tea and losing weight at the same time belongs rather into the realm of fairy tales (here). Likewise it's suggested not excessively consume pu-erh tea due to caffeine and theobromine. Consumer centers also warning explicitly not to consume the so-called pu-erh capsules (here).
Nevertheless, and especially because of his originality pu-erh tea satisfies the longing of modern society for spiritual and physical experience of vitality and nature. To unravel the many mysteries that pu-erh tea is surrounded with, one must first understand how it is produced. In this part I will explain these different techniques.
(table from the english wikipedia)
Pu-erh tea counts to the so-called dark teas (sometimes also called "post-fermented"), which all have an infusion color ranging from orange to reddish-brown and black to brown tea leaves (pu-erh also green). Within this concept there are also black tea, oolong tea (semi-oxidized tea), yellow tea, white tea and green tea.
Other examples of dark tea would be Xiangjian tea, Qianliang tea and so on from Hunan Province. They are characterized by the growth of fungal spores, which give these teas from Hunan special flavor.
From Sichuan come the dark tea Kangzhuan and Jinjian come.
Guangxi has the dark tea Liubao and Liu’an, which is characterized by red color, vigor, softness and age. Often found in markets in Southeast Asia and especially Hong Kong.
And finally our pu-erh tea from Yunnan, in which we will talk about here mainly.
1. Understanding Pu-erh tea knowledge
1.1. Expert opinion
1.2. The origin of the raw material
1.3. The Crossroads: Natural fermentation
1.4. The Crossroads: Artificially accelerated fermentation
2. Pu-erh tea types and categories
2.1. Classification by processing technology
2.2. Classification after harvest time
2.3. Classification after harvesting area
2.4. Classification after storage technology
2.5. Classification by softness of the base material
2.6. Classification by number of used different tea leaves
2.7. Classification according to hand-processed tea or mechanically processed tea
2.8. Classification by age
2.9. Classification by purpose
3. Pu-erh tea utensils and preparation
3.1. Traditional way of appreciate chinese tea - Gongfucha 功夫 茶
3.2. Grandpa style
3.3. Prepare the tea leaves
3.4. Prepare the tea utensils
3.5. The water and the temperature
3.6. Rinse tea
4. Pu-erh specialties
4.1. Pu-erh tea paste
4.2. Pu-erh tea crab feet
4.3. Old Yellow leaves (Lao Huang Pian)
4.4. Old Paka
4.5. Old Tea lumps
4.6. Corn flower tea
5. Pu-erh Tea Manufacturers
5.1. Manufacturers behind the blend digits
5.2. Portraits of selected factories and brands
6. Pu-erh tea growing regions
6.1. Six Famous Tea Mountains
6.2. "New" Six Famous Tea Mountains
6.3. Other Pu-erh tea areas in Xishuangbanna prefecture
6.4. Pu-erh tea areas in Puer (Simao) prefecture
6.5. Pu-erh tea areas in Lincang prefecture
7. Buy Pu-erh tea
7.1. Pu-erh tea and it's price
7.2. Pu-erh tea and the price ranges
7.3. How do I read wrapper?
7.4. Fake or original?
8. Pu-erh tea Storage
8.1. How do I store my pu-erh tea?
8.2. The perfect pu-erh tea storage
8.3. Storaging of pu-erh tea without pumidor
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