Pu-erh tea: the wine of teas. I know by now that some of you know what Pu-erh is based on my article on Chinese Mythology: The Legend of Pu-erh. But those of you who had not read it, here’s a quick rehash as to the 101 on Pu-erh tea:
Pu-erh is characterized by the fact that it is packed into tight, hard cakes and allowed to go through an aging process of fermentation (very similar to wine) for a determined amount of time based on the taste and texture that the tea producer wants (also similar to wine!)
There are two main types of Pu-erh tea based on their characters. Today we are going to talk about Sheng Pu-erh:
Sheng Pu-erh is also known as raw and green Pu-erh tea (Chinese: 生茶; pinyin: shēngchá or Chinese: 青茶; pinyin: qīngchá)
. There are two types of Sheng that are solely based on whether or not they are completely post-fermented or not. For this type of tea, the longer it is aged, the more complete the polyphenols saccharomyces and non-saccharomyces oxidations are.
In fact, there are those that liken Sheng Pu-erh to simple green tea (with a few notable differences)
Sheng is normally left in the sun to dry naturally. However if the weather is not permitting then the tea producers will continue this process but through light heating. This is not done lightly as it can affect the quality of the tea. Afterwards the tea is pan fried in a wok to stop any natural oxidation from occurring. Then the leaves are rolled and rubbed to be shaped, dried again and then finally placed into stone molds to give them that characteristic Pu-erh ‘shape.’
What do you all think? I would like to try this Pu-erh. I know that it would have the similar ‘grassy’ flavor of a green tea…but the shapes must be fun, too. Right?
2 thoughts on “Tea 201 – Pu-erh Tea – Sheng Pu-erh”
Sheng pu’erh is delicious, can be resteeped up to 20 times, and it’s the only pu’erh i drink. Unfortunately it’s hard to find, so ordering it online is so far the only method I can utilize to drink it. The older the better, however that is still dependant on what atmospheric and environmental conditions it was aged under. I just recently bought a 6 year old cake off ebay shipped straight to me from the factory, and it really lasts me a long time. Delicious, earthy, and by the 15th infusion, you can almost say it’s floral in aroma.
Highly recommend it!
I’d love to read more on sheng pu’ers pressed into nuggets and cakes vs loose shengs. I’ve tried a couple of them and pressed always turned out better tasting. Would you say there is a scientific explanation behind that or it was just my small sample size?
It’s true, good sheng can be steeped several times in gaiwan. And it’s very forgiving, so sometimes I just throw it in a tumbler and add water throughout the day.