Pu-erh, also spelled pu’er, pu erh, and pu’erh, is a fermented tea. It is truly tea in that it comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, the tea plant.
Processing of Pu-erh
After being picked and exposed to the sun, Pu-erh tea leaves go through a special microbial fermentation process. The fermentation yields its dark color, earthy taste, and enhances its qualities as a digestive aid. As part of the fermentation process, is it often pressed into tea cakes or bricks, although loose pu-erh exists as well.
Origin of Pu-erh
Pu-erh tea is only produced in Yunnan Province in southwestern China. It is named after the nearby town of Pu-er. The conditions there are ideal to the raising of tea, with high mountains, and a climate that is subtropical and exceeding 80% humid year round.
Value of Pu-erh
Due to the localized production region, lengthy fermentation process, and resulting complex taste and rarity of this tea, it is one of the most teas expensive in China. During the dynastic era, Pu-erh bricks were sometimes used a as currency or means of exchange. Nowadays, the finer Pu-erhs are considered collectors’ items, worthy of steep investments, in both Hong Kong and Mainland China.
Pu-erh is often compared to fine wine, in that it gets better with age, and tends to get more valuable the older it gets. The lifecycle is also similar to that of wine: right growing conditions, adequate but not too much rain, best picking time, correct fermentation, proper storage so as not to damage it, and increasing in price with age.
Taste of Pu-erh
Depending on how its prepared, steeping time, amount of rain in the harvest year, specific production process, and many other factors, Pu-erh can have many different flavors ranging from light and mild to dark and husky. Others taste earthy or grassy notes, sometimes camphor flavor, orchid, or Chinese dates. Unlike other teas, which are often mixed with artificial or natural flavorings to enhance their flavor profile, the particularly complex flavor of Pu-erh makes this unnecessary.
And, Pu-erh tea is the primary ingredient in Belight!