Bana Tea Logo - Home
Home
Tea Mastery
Bana Pu'erh Teas
Accessories
Assistance
Contact Us
Tea Mastery
WELCOME!
ABOUT BANA
A LETTER FROM LINDA LOUIE

AN OVERVIEW OF TEA

THE SIX CLASSIFICATIONS OF TEA

DEFINITION AND HISTORY OF PU-ERH TEA
CHINA'S SECRET BREW
THE LEGEND OF PU-ERH TEA
TWO TYPES OF PU-ERH

HOW PU-ERH IS MADE AND STORED
CULTIVATION & HARVEST
MAKING RAW AND RIPE PU-ERH TEA
TEA CAKES: PRESSING, PACKAGING, OPENING
PROPER PU-ERH STORAGE

CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING PU-ERH TEA

TASTE PROFILE OF A RAW PU-ERH

TASTE PROFILE OF A RIPE PU-ERH

ELEMENTS OF PU-ERH APPRECIATION

HOW TO BREW A GOOD CUP OF TEA
OTHER WAYS TO ENJOY PU-ERH

RETAIL OUTLETS

PU-ERH TEA FAQs

LINDA LOUIE LECTURE: "EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT PU-ERH TEA"

GLOSSARY
WELCOME!

Bana Tea Company hopes to enhance your Pu-erh experience by providing information on the history of Pu-erh tea, the art of tea brewing, and the intricacies of Pu-erh cultivation, harvesting, drying, aging, curing, & storing. For information about the philosophy and origins of Bana Tea Company, please see About Bana. And please take a moment to read A letter from Linda Louie, tea purveyor and owner of Bana Tea Company.


tea tasting event

AN OVERVIEW OF TEA

Tea’s origin began in China, long considered to be the source of the indigenous tea plant and later, the birthplace of the first cultivated tea gardens.

A long, long time ago, indigenous wild tea plants were found in the lush and thick forest jungles along Yunnan’s southern borders with Myanmar and Laos. These wild tea trees are found in the old growth forests of Xishuangbanna, an agricultural region nourished by the rich and fertile watershed of the Mekong River. These wild tea trees are estimated to be hundreds and, in some cases, over a thousand years old.

There are many myths and legends surrounding the discovery of tea, the most famous of which is the story of Shen Nong, “The God of Agriculture.” This myth relates that Shen Nong discovered tea while sitting in contemplation beneath a tall tree. A gust of wind blew into the branches, sending a shower of tea leaves into Shen Nong’s open cauldron of gently boiling water. Attracted by the pleasant fragrance rising from the steaming brew, the sage sipped the tea. He found its flavor pleasantly bitter with a lingering sweet after- taste. Its effect was soothing and refreshing.

Over the centuries, tea-drinking practices can be divided into three main phases: boiled, whisked and steeped. Tea was first used for its medicinal properties. Tea leaves were boiled with a host of other forest plants, seeds, and herbs into a healing concoction. From medicinal use, tea evolved to be enjoyed by aristocrats in formal tea gatherings during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907). This marks the beginning of the whisked phase of tea drinking. At about this time tea was introduced to Japan and the whisked tea became and has remained a major element in the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Tea-drinking culture continued to evolve and reached its peak in the Sung Dynasty (A.D. 960-1126). Tea drinking spread from the elite to the common people. The phase of steeped tea began in the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1348-1644) when tea was prepared in loose leaf form and fine ceramic tea wares were developed.

Tea reached Europe and America during the Qing Dynasty (A.D.1644-1911). To make sure the tea did not spoil during the long voyage from China to Holland, the processing of tea leaves further added the step of oxidation to make the tea darker. The leaves were then fired and bake-dried in a way that green tea was not. Hence, black tea (known as red tea in China) was discovered and became the main tea that was exported to European countries.

The Portuguese were the first European tea traders, followed by the Dutch and the English who embraced tea in a big way. Different from the Chinese, Europeans added milk and/or sugar to their tea. The demand for tea continued to grow in the West and tea was introduced to America in 1650. The growing demand prompted the English’s desire to gain control of tea importation and production. In 1848, the Scottish botanist Robert Fortune disguised himself as a Chinese businessman and went to Fujian Province where the black tea was made. With the help of Chinese accomplices, Robert Fortune smuggled large amounts of tea cuttings, sprouting seeds, and technical information about tea cultivation from China to India to grow tea for the British.

By 1900, India was supplying 154 million pounds of tea to England, squeezing Chinese tea almost completely out of the tea market. The taste preferences of the western Europeans, which at one point were the beloved Chinese teas, were replaced by the strong, dark teas produced in India.

The plummeted demand for tea exports, along with wars and the tumultuous political climate in China forced many tea farmers in Yunnan to abandon their tea gardens to seek jobs elsewhere. These abandoned tea gardens are slowly being re-discovered in recent years due to the resurgence of interest in Pu-erh tea.

Today, tea is the second most consumed beverage next to water. Tea drinking and interests in tea culture are more popular than ever. Tea production has spread to more than 45 countries around the world. In the age of the internet, tea lovers can easily find any tea from anywhere in the world to suit their palate.



THE SIX CLASSIFICATIONS OF TEA

• Green tea: Green tea is minimally processed. After plucking, the leaves are left to air dry/wither to soften and to reduce moisture content. After a certain amount of time, the leaves are dried quickly and thoroughly to prevent oxidation. The leaves are then rolled to the desirable shape before undergoing final drying. Green tea is grown in many countries. The major countries producing green tea are China, Japan and Korea.

• Yellow tea: Yellow tea is processed in a manner very similar to green tea, but an extra step called “smothering (men huan)” is applied to develop its special flavor characteristics. After pan-frying, the leaves are lightly steamed and then covered with a cloth for a period of time. During this process, astringency is reduced and sweetness is introduced. China is the only country that produces yellow tea.

• White tea: After it is plucked, white tea is also minimally processed, although very different from that of green tea. After the pluck, the leaves are withered, first outdoor and then indoor, and then the leaves are bake-dried. China’s Fujian Province is the home of authentic white tea.

• Oolong tea: Oolong is a partially oxidized tea. It is considered to be the most intricate and complex tea to manufacture. Some oolongs can take up to 36-40 hours to produce, requiring several shifts of workers. The degree of oxidation of oolong tea ranges between 15%-80%. After the pluck, fresh leaves undergo outdoor and indoor withering, during which time the leaves are tossed and rested at time intervals. The withered leaves are then fed to an oven for pan-firing. Following pan-frying, the leaves are brought to a rolling machine to be rolled and shaped. Finally, the rolled leaves are fed into a drying machine. Additional steps of roasting are added to certain Oolongs. Roasted Oolongs are highly sought-after and improve with age. Major oolong producing regions are China (Fujian and Guangdong) and Taiwan.

• Black tea: Black tea is a fully oxidized tea. It is the most popular tea in North America for making hot and iced tea, reflecting the tea-drinking influence of English and Europe. Black tea’s production steps after plucking include withering, rolling, sifting, oxidation and drying. Major black tea producing countries are India, Sri Lanka, China and Africa. In China, black tea is called “hong cha", which translates to red tea.

• Dark tea: “Dark” means “black” in Chinese, hence dark tea is black tea in China. To avoid confusion with black tea in the West, most tea experts refer to China’s “black tea” as “dark tea.” Dark tea is a post-fermented tea that can be aged. Tea leaves undergo a microbial fermentation process after they are dried and rolled. The degree of fermentation varies among different kinds of dark teas. Pu-erh is the most well-known dark tea. Other dark teas include Liu-an, Liu-bao, Fu-Zhuang and Qian Liang Cha. Dark teas are packed in baskets, compressed in cakes or bricks and packed in logs. As Pu-erh tea has gained in international fame and popularity in recent years, all dark teas have gained attention and the value of aged dark teas is comparable to the value of aged Pu-erh. All dark teas are manufactured in China.

Tisanes: Tisanes are made with flowers, herbs, spices or barks. Some examples of tisanes are Rooibos, Mate, Chamomile, Rosehip, Mint and Ginger. Tisanes are technically not tea because they are not made from leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea plant.


DEFINITION & HISTORY OF PU-ERH TEA


• CHINA'S SECRET BREW(map of China)
Pu-erh - The Tea that Ages Like Wine

High in the mountains of Yunnan, China, in an area believed to be the birthplace of tea some 4700 years ago, there are groves of ancient tea trees. These trees, some as old as 1700 years, flourish naturally under pristine temperate conditions. They are primarily cultivated, tended and harvested by the Chinese ethnic minority groups called Bulang, Dai and Hani tribal groups.

These tea trees are of a broad leaf version of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis var. assamica) native to the southwest region of Yunnan China (Yunnan Dayeh). Because of the inherent qualities of these leaves, the tea does not lose its flavor with time like other teas. Instead, like wine, Pu-erh tea's taste improves with each passing year, becoming more flavorful, more complex and more mellow. It is perhaps because of this singular feature, the capacity to improve with age, that Pu-erh is also called "a drinkable antique." High quality Pu-erh is in short supply as it is coveted and hoarded by tea connoisseurs in China and Asia. Relatively small amounts of good Pu-erh are left for shipment to tea lovers in the West. Indeed, Pu-erh is a secret treasure yet to be discovered for many outside of Asia.

THE LEGEND OF PU-ERH TEA

According to historical accounts, sometime during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), merchants began packing these large tea leaves into compressed cakes. These cakes of tea were easier to transport by pack animal than cumbersome loose-leaf tea. Because of the long distances and difficult terrain, it would be months before the tea would reach its destination, whether that would be Tibet, India or faraway Beijing. Something miraculous occurred during the extended delivery periods and the varying climatic conditions: the tea changed. Not only did the color of the tea transform from green to dark teak, but also the taste of the tea became livelier, richer and smoother. During its months of travel, the tea underwent a fermentation process whereby microbes acted on the tea, causing biological and enzymatic changes. The resulting tea, known to Chinese as Pu-erh, became highly sought after, first by royalty, high officials and the literati, and later by tea connoisseurs. (see our ARTICLE on pressing tea cakes) (see our VIDEO on pressing tea cakes)

Pu-erh tea is named after a town called Pu-erh located in central Yunnan. Pu-erh did not produce tea; rather, it was a trading post where all teas produced from the nearby tea mountains were sold and traded. For easy transport, teas were compressed into cakes or bricks and transported to different parts of China and Asia by horse caravan. Later, all teas traded in this town came to be known as Pu-erh tea.

TWO TYPES OF PU-ERH

While most teas, by and large, are best consumed soon after production to retain both their aroma and flavor, Pu-erh can be aged and refined like wine. It undergoes a fermentation process (either naturally or artificially) where microbes act on the tea leaves over time, causing the leaves to darken and the flavor to change to become smoother and more complex. Depending on the conditions and the environment of aging, the taste can transform through various stages, from being fruity, floral, grassy, to being earthy, woody and nutty.

There are two major types of Pu-erh tea: "Raw Pu-erh" and "Ripe Pu-erh". These two Pu-erh types are distinguished by their respective fermentation processes. Both types of Pu-erh are made from the same raw materials (mao cha) - freshly harvested leaves that have been wilted, either fried manually or tumbled through a heated rotating cylinder, kneaded and sun dried in open air. The term "Raw Pu-erh" refers to loose leaves, tea cakes or bricks made from raw materials without additional processing. Raw Pu-erh can be consumed immediately to enjoy its fresh, floral or fruity flavors, or it can be left to age in a natural environment to achieve a mellower, smoother and more complex flavor. Naturally aged Raw Pu-erh teas, particularly those made from premium raw materials, are the most sought-after by tea connoisseurs.

"Ripe Pu-erh" offers an alternative to having to wait ten to thirty years for the Raw Pu-erh to mature and achieve the aged flavor that is popular among many Chinese. In the 1970's, the industry developed a method to artificially accelerate the aging process by "cooking" Pu-erh tea. This "cooking" process, called "wo dui", involves incubating the tea in a moisture-rich environment where microbial activity causes the temperature to rise, drastically intensifying the fermentation process. This process typically takes a few months to complete.

Here are some comparisons between a raw and a ripe Pu-erh:

Time required to achieve full fermentation:
Raw: 20-30 years.
Ripe: A few months.

Taste differences:
Raw: Young raw Pu-erh shares similar characteristics as green tea. As the tea ages, it becomes more complex and is famous for its stronger mouth sensation and long-lasting aftertaste.
Ripe: Earthy and mellow. Aged ripe Pu-erh becomes smoother and the earthy flavor transforms into sweet plum flavor.
See Taste Profiles of Raw and Ripe Pu-erh Teas

Color of the brew:
Raw: Golden yellow to burnt orange, depending on the age of the tea
Ripe: Dark chestnut Appearance of the leaves: Raw: The brewed leaves of raw Pu-erh are more intact, plump and soft. Ripe: The brewed leaves of ripe Pu-erh are generally broken, black in color and no longer soft.

Whether fermented naturally or manually, studies have shown that the microbial activity in Pu-erh tea offers probiotic health benefits that no other teas offer.



HOW PU-ERH IS MADE AND STORED

The production of both raw and ripe Pu-erh from cultivation & harvest, through processing, to pressing and opening a finished tea cake can be found in the links below. Also below is information on the proper storage of Pu-erh tea. Topics are well illustrated with photos.


• CULTIVATION & HARVEST
In Yunnan, tea trees can be cultivated in several ways: plantation style bushes, old-growth (aka ancient) arbor trees, sustainable farming tea trees and wild tea trees. For detailed information about the different cultivation practices and photos, please click here: "Cultivating and Harvesting Pu-erh"


• MAKING RAW AND RIPE PU-ERH
The difference between raw and ripe Pu-erh is the respective fermentation processes that each type of tea undergoes. Raw Pu-erh is made from fresh leaves undergoing basic steps of tea processing and then left to age naturally over time. Ripe Pu-erh is made from Mao Cha undergoing a controlled post-fermentation process called “wo dui.” This speeds up the aging progress and causes the resulting tea to mimic the taste profile of an aged raw Pu-erh without having the tea undergoes the much longer time required for natural aging. For information and photos of how raw and ripe Pu-erh are made, please click here: "Making Raw and Ripe Pu-erh"


• TEA CAKES: PRESSING, SHAPES & PACKAGING, PRYING OPEN A CAKE
To learn about pressing tea cakes, shapes, and packaging of cakes and bricks, and how to properly pry open a tea cake, please click here: "Tea Cakes"


• PROPER STORAGE
Like fine wine, Pu-erh tea gets better and its value appreciates with the passage of time. Proper storage condition of the tea can directly affect the tastes of the tea. An interview with Pu-erh dry storage pioneer, Master Vesper Chan, reveals tips on how to properly store your Pu-erh collection. For detailed information on proper Pu-erh storage, please click here: "Proper Storage"



CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING PU-ERH TEA

Determining the quality of Pu-erh tea requires some basic knowledge and experience. The quality of Pu-erh tea is based on a number of factors: area of production, leaf source, the grade of the leaves, methods of cultivation, the time of year it is harvested and the conditions under which it is stored.


Area of production:
Good quality Pu-erh tea comes from the four major Pu-erh producing regions in Yunnan, namely Simao, Xishuangbanna, Boshan, and Lincang. There are 10 famous tea mountains, six of them located within Xishuangbanna. Some of the most famous tea mountains today are: YiWu, Jingmai, Nannuo, Yibang, Banzhang, and Yibang.


Leaf source:
Pu-erh teas can be made from leaves harvested from old arbor tea trees (qiao mu), sustainable farming small trees (Shengtai), tea bushes (guan mu) or wild tea trees (Yehsheng). The best leaf source is from the old arbor tea trees, followed by the wild trees, sustainable farming small trees and lastly tea bushes.

The old-growth arbor trees are the most genetically diverse as they are planted by seeds rather than by cloning. Consequently, teas made from these trees are richer, more complex, and offer good cha chi (positive energy) as compared to the clonal variety. Furthermore, the old arbor trees have been thriving on their own without human intervention for centuries, never requiring fertilizers or pesticides. Selena Ahmed, Ph.D., discovered in her research that leaves from the old arbor trees possessed the most anti-oxidants. She theorized that the old tea trees have to work harder to fend off pests and other herbivores and develops these compounds in response. To view Dr. Ahmed’s study, please see http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1755-263X.2012.00269.x/abstract

The demand for tea made from old trees is high but the yield of old tea trees is small. To meet the high demand, tea manufacturers sometimes mix the leaves from old trees with the leaves from tea bushes and pass them off as old tree teas. The ability to distinguish characteristics of different leaf sources is crucial to avoid being cheated. For information on how to tell if the tea is from the old trees or not, please click here: "Is it from the old trees of not?"

This is not to imply that all Pu-erh tea made from the bushes are inferior teas. However, teas made from bushes do not call for the high prices as do teas made from the old trees. Therefore, knowing the above-described characteristics will hopefully enable consumers to avoid over-paying for their tea purchases.


Season of harvest:
Pu-erh is harvested during spring, summer and autumn. New buds break in late March before the first rain. The first spring harvest is called Ming Qian Tea, referring to teas harvested before the Chinese Qing Ming Festival. Ming Qian Tea is considered the finest and most prized crop of the year’s production. The leaves are then picked two more times before the monsoon season. Leaves harvested in autumn are generally second to the spring harvest but superior to the summer harvest in quality.


Grades:
Pu-erh can be categorized into ten grades, from one to ten. The grades are determined by the time of harvest, the amount of buds, freshness of the leaves. The lower numbers represent young leaves closer to the bud and the high numbers represent older leaves farther down the branch. A bud and two leaves are considered the most desirable combination. Many tea cakes feature a blend of several grades to attain a desired flavor. This blending is usually disclosed by the tea producer. In other cases, there may be less benign reasons for producers to blend several grades of tea together.


Storage Conditions:
The aging of Pu-erh tea requires proper temperature and certain amount of humidity. However, a storage environment that has excessive heat and humidity often adversely affects the quality of the tea. Properly stored Pu-erh tea should be fragrant, pure and smooth, and offer long lasting after-taste that coats the mouth and throat. Improperly stored teas often lack character, and some even have a sharp unpleasant smell.
Judging the leaf source of Pu-erh tea requires experience and a determination often may not be conclusive. As indicated earlier, many teas that claim to be from ancient trees are mixed with leaves from bushes. Teas made from truly ancient trees are hard to come by and require a trusted producer to employ very strict quality control in their production.

return to the top of page


TASTE PROFILE OF A RAW PU-ERH

Raw Pu-erh made from old-growth arbor trees possesses an array of aromas and flavors. The most common are camphor, lotus, orchid, dried jujube, dragon eye (longan) fruit, plum, ginseng, and areca. The different taste profiles in Pu-erh have to do with the grade of the leaves, the stages of aging, and the other types of trees that are grown in the general area. As the old-growth arbor tea trees have very deep roots, over time, the roots of the tea trees would intertwine with the roots of other forest trees nearby and absorb the fragrance emitted from the other trees.

Sometimes, the taste profile will transform from one flavor to another in between brews of the same tea or one may experience a bouquet of flavors within a single brew. Many Pu-erh aficionados would agree that the best taste is obtained at around the 4th or 5th brew, when the leaves are totally unfurled and the flavors are released.

Bana offers a Raw Pu-erh Sampler with of seven of our best raw teas including our very popular Purple Tip and Moonlight White.


TASTE PROFILE OF A RIPE PU-ERH

As ripe Pu-erh has undergone full fermentation, much of the bitterness and astringency inherent in the tea leaves have dissipated. Ripe Pu-erh is generally earthy, nutty or woody. Good quality aged Pu-erh should be mellow, smooth and offer a sweet (sugarcane or plum) aftertaste (hui tian). Poor quality ripe Pu-erh is flat, dull, thin and may have an unpleasant odor.

Bana offers a Ripe Pu-erh Sampler for an overview of six premium ripe teas including our best sellers.
Bana also offers a Variety Pu-erh Sampler for an overview of both raw and ripe teas including 3 of our best sellers.



ELEMENTS OF PU-ERH APPRECIATION

• Appreciating the aroma of the tea
• Observing the clarity and color of the brew
• Appreciating the texture, the body and the flavor of the tea
• Savoring the aftertaste of the tea. The two adjectives commonly used by Chinese to describe the aftertaste are “hui gan” and “hui tian.” Hui gan refers to a cooling sensation that penetrates the entire mouth and in the back of the throat. "Hui tian" refers to the subtle sweet finish of the teas.
• Feeling the “qi” of the tea – a warm and comfortable sensation that envelops one’s body, enabling one to relax.


HOW TO BREW A GOOD CUP OF TEA

Making the perfect cup of tea is something different for everyone. Whether a cup of tea is good or not often depends on personal preference. Some like their tea strong and others like it light. In general, water quality, the quality of the tea leaves, the amount of tea leaves in relation to the amount of water used and the brewing time, all play an important role in determining the flavor of a cup of tea. For more extensive information on brewing tea, click here.

Pu-erh tea and flower teas

Other Ways to Enjoy Pu-erh Tea:

Pu-erh tea can be consumed by itself or mixed with flower teas, such as rose, osmanthus, or chrysanthemum. Flowers add a nice floral aroma and taste that makes the tea more interesting and enjoyable. Goji berries, high in antioxidants, may also be added to serve as a natural sweetener. In warmer weather, clients have reported that cool Pu-erh can be very pleasant and refreshing.

I encourage you to try and experiment different combinations to make your tea drinking experience more interesting and rewarding.
i



RETAIL OUTLETS

In addition to selling online, Bana products can be found at the following:
• The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana ( www.bowers.org )
• The Asia Pacific Museum in Pasadena ( www.pacificasiamuseum.org )
• Rivendell in Santa Cruz CA (www.rivendell.com)
• Tin Roof Teas in Raliegh NC (www.tinroofteas.com)
We recommend that you call the above sources to be sure they have the product you want in stock.



PU-ERH TEA FAQs
Below are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Pu-erh tea. (click here to download the Pu-erh Tea FAQ Sheet PDF)


Q: What is Pu-erh Tea?
A: Pu-erh tea is a “post-fermented tea.” According to its official definition, Pu-erh tea must be made: 1) from the broad leaf variety tea leaf indigenous to Yunnan called Yunnan DaYeh; and 2) the tea must be fermented.

Pu-erh tea’s processing involves two phases: the processing of the primary tea (mao cha) and the post-fermentation of the tea. The primary tea is a finished product ready for consumption. It can be consumed immediately or be stored to age via natural fermentation. This type of Pu-erh tea is known as “Raw or Green Pu-erh.” The primary tea can also undergo manually induced fermentation, in which case full fermentation of the tea leaves is achieved within several weeks. This type of Pu-erh tea is known as “Ripe or Cooked Pu-erh.”


Q: How is Pu-erh tea different from other teas?
A: Unlike most other teas (white, green, red), which tend to lose their freshness and flavor soon after the time of production, Pu-erh, due to qualities inherent in its broad leaves, undergoes a fermentation process which improves its taste, texture and aroma over time. As such, while most teas should be consumed while they are fresh, Pu-erh tea, like fine wine, is best enjoyed many years later after the tea has been aged.

Another difference between Pu-erh tea and other teas is that most teas can be steeped only 2-3 infusions before losing flavor, Pu-erh tea can be steeped (using a small gaiwan or Yixing pot) at least 10-15 times.


Q. What is the best way to brew Pu-erh tea?
A. The best way to brew Pu-erh tea (especially the high quality Pu-erh and and the costly aged Pu-erh) is to use the Gongfu brewing method. Using a small Yixing clay teapot or a small three-piece lidded bowl known as Gaiwan, tea is brewed quickly and then dispensed into tiny tea cups. The Gongfu brewing method allows tea drinkers to enjoy the changing flavor of the tea over the course of multiple infusions of the same leaves as they unfurl. Typical brewing time starts at a few seconds to several minutes. Please refer to the section “How to brew a good cup of tea.”


Q. Why is there a big difference in price among Pu-erh tea?
A. Like fine wine, Pu-erh tea’s value goes up as it ages. There are costs associated with aging the tea and the inventory of a particular tea will only decrease in time. Accordingly, the price of Pu-erh tea is adjusted at least once year, depending on their popularity and rarity. Generally speaking, the percentage of appreciation goes up most when a tea reaches its 10th year or 20th year.

In addition to the time factor, the difference in pricing of Pu-erh depends on the type of leaves from which the tea is made and the season when it is harvested. Pu-erh made from the spring harvest is the most valued, followed by tea from the fall harvest. Of the spring harvest, tea from the first spring harvest (Ming Qian) calls for the highest price. The most highly sought after Pu-erh teas today are those made from the centuries old arbor trees (also known as ancient tea trees), followed by the young arbor trees. The least expensive teas are those made from the mass produced plantation bushes.

Lastly, as in the case of wine, the producing region is another factor that affects the price of a Pu-erh tea. There are ten famous tea mountains in Yunnan, among which are YiWu, LaoBanzhang, Jingmai, Nannuo and Yibang. These areas that produce tea with unique flavors and characteristics are valued at higher prices than those of other lesser known regions.


Q: I have a cake of Pu-erh but how do I go about making tea with it?
A:
In the old days, Pu-erh tea was compressed into cakes for easy transportation. Today, the cake is the perfect medium for storage. To brew tea, some leaves must be chipped from it, either with your hand or with the help of a Pu-erh knife or a pick by very carefully inserting the blade through the side so as to split the layers of compressed tea. Once the proper amount of leaves is pried loose from the cake, re-wrap the cake in its original wrapper and store it away. Each tea has its own optimal brewing times and temperature. For best results, refer to each tea's page and see the brewing instructions at the bottom.


Q: How should I store a Pu-erh tea cake?
A:
For optimum results, the tea cake should be stored in conditions where:
1) humidity is dry to moderate (around 65%);
2) temperature is moderate; 3) sunlight is minimized; and 4) there is some, but not excessive, ventilation so that oxygen is provided for the fermentation process. Pu-erh tea leaves can quickly absorb odor from its environment. Accordingly, Pu-erh tea should be stored away from objects that have strong odor, such as herbs, spices, moth balls, air fresheners, etc.

Pu-erh tea is best stored in its original packaging, either in its original paper wrapper or in “tungs.” It can also be stored in a clay or ceramic jar but air-tight containers should be avoided.


Q: Why would Pu-erh tea make a good gift?
A:
Pu-erh's taste improves with age. As a wedding gift, it is an heirloom that can be saved and savored on that special 30th anniversary, and while aging it will be increasing in value. Or it may be given as a birthday present that can be opened and sampled each year to appreciate the flavor changes that it undergoes. Different, yet meaningful, Pu-erh can make a very memorable gift. See our Samplers and thoughtfully selected Gift Pack ensembles or call us to create your own custom Gift Pack or a Gift Certificate at:
(toll free in the USA): 1 888 968-0788
(from outside the USA): 1 626 968-0788



LINDA LOUIE LECTURE: "EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT PU-ERH TEA"
In mid-August of 2014, the annual Los Angeles Tea Festival was held at the Japanese American National Museum. Linda Louie was one of several experts who spoke on teas. As expected, her talk was on her area of expetise, Pu-erh teas. The lecture was captured to video and we present it here in two parts. We hope you enjoy the comprehensive range of information that she shared with Pu-erh enthusiasts that day.
Please click here to watch part 1 of EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT PU-ERH TEA
Please click here to watch part 2 of EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT PU-ERH TEA


GLOSSARY


Photos by Linda Louie, Bing Yeh, and Angie Lee


return to the top of page

hometea masterybana Pu-erh teasaccessoriesmore treasuresphoto galleryvideonewsnewsletter signup
brewing the perfect cupletter to tea enthusiastsabout bana tea companyglossarycontact usassistance

Puerh tea facts | FDBnetwork.com| Puerh health benefits