Basic pu-erh tea knowledge
Why does dark tea improve in smell and taste with age (as do some oolong and black teas)? Why does it last for many years while other teas lose their color and flavor?
The main reason lies in basic materials. Tea trees with large leaves contain more substances in their fresh leaves. That is why the characteristic Pu-erh taste lasts so long and even becomes softer and sweeter with time. After long storage, its "normal" tea characteristics weaken: astringency decreases and softness and sweetness increase. Then, after about 30 years, it becomes lighter again.
Before the nineties of the last millennium, hardly anyone had heard of pu-erh tea, let alone seen it. Only in the recent past Pu-erh became a trend that first conquered Asia and is now preparing to conquer the world. The most associated terms with Pu-erh tea are "raw", "processed", "softer with age" and "collectible & rare". What makes Pu-erh special is that it takes on its own special flavor with age - which is a typical characteristic of Dunkel teas, but which contrasts with most other teas. What is raw Pu-erh, what is processed Pu-erh tea? Do both really get better with age?
The answer is not simple, but therein lies the appeal. The more time you spend searching for the truth, the more elusive it becomes.
Experts say a pu-erh must meet certain characteristics such as loose or compressed tea according to the tradition in Yunnan. In short, origin, raw material, processing technique and shape of the final product are cornerstones of what makes a pu-erh a pu-erh.
There are also other definitions:
They come from the so-called "big leaf" variety "daye 大叶" (which is to be understood as Camellia sinensis var. Assamica - though there are other traditional cultivars with other varieties!).
Sun-drying (but it's hardly possible in certain months anyway, because of rainy season).
And you come from Yunnan (sometimes the area of influence of the river Lancang 澜沧江 is called here - also known as Mekong in our country).