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Pu-erh- Just like Darjeeling tea can only be called Darjeeling if it is from the Darjeeling region of India, a Pu-erh can only be called Pu-erh if it is from the Yunnan Province in Southwestern China, otherwise known as the wild wild west of China. This province in particular is famous for its wild ancient tea trees and its Pu-erh.
There are 2 different categories of Pu-erh, raw and ripe.
Raw Pu-erh tends to be lighter like a green tea and is pressed shortly after it has been dried. After it is pressed into cakes, tuo chas or left loose it is allowed to age or mellow out for many years. Older raw Pu-erhs will develop more body over time and be very smooth.
Ripe Pu-erh is a sped up version of a really old raw Pu-erh. The leaves are picked and put into a pile roughly 2-3 feet high and sprayed with water and are treated in a very similar process as compost piles. The piles of tea are turned frequently during the 40-50 day fermenting process. After a certain amount of time the piles of tea are spread out into thin layers and are allowed to dry again. After this stage the tea is either left loose or more commonly wetted slightly and pressed into cakes, bricks or tuo chas.
The taste of Pu-erhs are like nothing else. The raw ones tend to be a touch astringent with that fading over time, while, the ripe pu-erhs have more of moist forest floor/earthy mushroom character to them. The ripe Pu-erhs are very smooth and a lot of them tend to have a mouthfeel similar to coffee.
Pu-erhs are great gifts for people who have about everything.
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