Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pu-er Tea

'Pu-er tea is aloof, and never perturbed by either honour or disgrace' China Culture Express

Pu-er is a large leaf tea from the Yunnan province of China. It is one of the rarest and finest Chinese teas, and is often referred to as the 'Queen of teas'. After having been picked, the tea is briefly fired to allow the leaves to retain some moisture. It is then left to age (and ferment due to the bacteria left on the leaves) in special underground caves. It can either be left as loose tea, or more often than not it is compressed into tea cakes. Pu-er tea is much like a vintage wine, and can be left to age for decades. The rarest pu-er teas fetch extraordinary high prices- for example £90 for 10g of this 1950's Menghai Raw Pu-er supreme :

The art of brewing pu-er tea is a ancient and complicated one (see links below- there are 8 steps). Spring water is recommended, and the first infusion should always be discarded as this washes the leaves. The tea can then be brewed up to ten times, but only for 10-20 seconds for the first few and slightly longer for the last few brews.

Pu-er tea has a distinct aroma (almost fishy, farmyard smell) which nearly put me off the first time I tried it. However the taste is smooth and refreshing.

There have been many studies into the health benefits of pu-er, and it is said to reduce cholesterol.

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