|Faster Aging Shou Pu-erh
Answering the Cry For More Pu-erh Tea
|For centuries traditional pu-erh teas were exclusive to China, where the tea
gets its name from Puerh County, located in Yunnan Province.
This area in southwest China is the original birthplace of this variety of large-leaf
ed teas. Along with the right soil and climate, this particular tea bush produces
teas with a rich, earthy character.
|And when the leaf is aged using a
specific process unique only to pu-erh tea and left
to mature under special conditions, it produces a
complex tea with the taste of earth and slight hint
of mold, along with a complicated complex of
flavors, including fruits and spice that unfold with
It's a tea that you must experience in person to
understand why millions of people worldwide swear
While sheng pu-erhs (raw or green pu-erh) are left
to age for up to 50 years or more, and can sell for
thousands of dollars, shou pu-erh (cooked or black
pu-erh) is designed to age much faster.
|Developed in the 1970s, shou puerh, also known as black or cooked pu-erh, was developed to
replicate the mature, earthy flavor of raw pu-erh, using a faster
method of aging. The beginning steps are basically the same as for
sheng pu-erh, the leaf is picked, withered, and then mixed with a
precise measure of water and a bacterial culture taken from ancient
The next step in the process of shou pu-erh is to pile and cover the
tea for up to 40 days in a hot and very humid room. The water in
the tea and the oxygen in the air begins the fermentation process. (This is true fermentation,
and isn't the same as the oxidation process used when manufacturing black and oolong teas).
In order to regulate the amount of heat and
moisture that builds up in the piles of tea,
the cover is periodically removed, and the
piles of tea and mixture are turned. This
step distributes the heat, moisture, and
bacteria evenly through the leaf piles.
The leaf will eventually change from a yell-
ow-green color, to a reddish brown. After
the process of piling and fermentation are
done, the leaf is left to mature a bit, allow-
ing the sharp flavor of fermentation to even
out and dissipate.
When finished the leaf is formed into disks
or cakes of puerh and wrapped individually
in tissue paper, then placed singly into pre-
sentation boxes, or stacked in sevens (known as a
tong, which translates to "seven sons") and wrapp-
ed in bamboo leaves or grasses to protect quality
and flavor. Each stack of disks or tong weigh about
five pounds or 2.5
Shou pu-erh may not have all of the more refined, complex flavors
of sheng pu-erh, but it still offers a good cup of tea reminiscent of
the strong earth flavors pu-erhs are known for. Enjoy.
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