What is pu-erh tea?

A category of tea unto itself, like oolong, black, green or white tea, pu-erh has been produced in Yunnan, China, from ancient times. It was transported from the market town of Pu-Erh until the tea itself eventually acquired this name outside of Yunnan.

Pu-erh is processed tea that undergoes a secondary fermentation process, and comes compressed in various shapes, with “cake form” being quite common. What is most unique about pu-erh tea is that it actually improves with age. After processing, the compressed tea is left for several years (sometimes up to 50) to mature and develop its flavour, becoming sweeter and less bitter as time passes. Needless to say, such pu-erh teas, known as “raw pu-erh”, can be very expensive. Modern methods can produce pu-erh tea in much less time, using a bacterial culture to catalyze the process. This is known as “cooked pu-erh”.