Pu-erh, the Original Fermented Tea

Pu-erh is a large-leaf variety of the tea plant from Yunnan Province, China. Puerh leaves are picked as one-bud and 3-4 leaves, unlike the green tea picking order, which is one bud, 1-2 leaves. This means the tea leaves are older before they are picked, which contributes to the unique qualities of this type of tea.

Maocha, the original pu-erh, is found in the high mountains of southern and western Yunnan. Maocha, botanically Camellia sinensis var assamica, is  a large-leaf variety of the Camellia sinensis tea plant, in contrast to the Camellia sinensis sinensis small-leaf variety.

What makes pu-erh tea unique is that they are aged in conditions that encourage fermentation. Some puerhs are moistened to encourage microbes, but most are aged with solid-state fermentation, with little to no moisture. Puerhs can be aged up to 10-20 years.

The Favored Tea for the Kung Fu Tea Ceremony

Pu-erh is meant to be steeped in a small clay teapot that is about the size of an apple and then poured into clay cups that are smaller than a shot glass. The final presentation seems cute, but the steeping process is “steeped” in Chinese culture. The entire process of presenting, steeping and serving the pu-erh tea in the traditional Kung Fu way(not to be mistaken for the martial arts style) may seem tedious and antiquated, but the entire process has been developed over time, as a culture, out of necessity.

Pu-erh is good any at any time, but the tradition of serving the tea is specifically meant to entertain guests. Cleaning the teapot and cups, as well as the equal distribution of tea is essential to the traditional Kung Fu process. 

First, the teapot, and the cups are filled dowsed in boiling water, then each cup is dipped in the first. This ensures that it is properly sanitized.

At all times, a wooden box acts as a tray and  a receptacle for water during the cleaning process. It is usually individually decorated. After both the teapot and the teacups have been washed, they are drained.

The next step is “showing the tea”

As this ceremony is meant for guests, the showing of the tea is to present the tealeaves to your guests, after which the host will insert the tea leaves (sometimes halfway filled) in the tiny clay teapot.

Pu-erh is meant to be steeped in the hottest heat possible, usually over 200 degrees. The steeping is enjoyed in three different sections. The first is after one minute, when the pu-erh should first be enjoyed. The second is after three minutes, and the third is after five, all three will guarantee individual and specific tastes and smells.

After the tea has been drained from the teapot, the process is repeated, though the process itself is not as complicated as it projects. Boiling the water for the cleaning and steeping process takes more time and effort than the actual ceremony.

Té’s Pu-erhs

Here are some of our favorites: