When first learning about Pu-erh tea, it can be easy to get confused by raw and ripe, and to know what the difference is, so we decided to do a side-by-side taste test, and film it, to share with you a few of the differences.

We drank one cooked, eg “ripe,” pu-erh that went through the “wo dui” or rapid aging process.  The ripened tea we had was a 2004, called “Small Tribute Ripe.” In the video, that one is shown in the middle.  We’d describe as a heavy, very earthy, intensely flavored, bold tea–a perfect accompaniment to a heavy or greasy meal.

We also had two briefly aged raw pu-erhs. The Purple Tip was a 2008 Vintage Spring Harvest. And the last tea we tried in the video was a 2010 Vintage called Fragrant Spring. Both offered a more subtle, lighter flavor, and smooth start and gentle finish than the ripe tea. The Fragrant Spring was particularly appealing with light, but full-bodied fruit and floral flavors that lasted through many, many steepings.

Watch the video, and see if you can guess which was our favorite.

Leave a comment below, telling us whether you prefer raw or ripe pu-erh. We’d also love to know why!

(All tea from Bana Tea Company.) Thanks to Robert for his help filming and tasting!