To many tea connoisseurs, the leaf is like a fine wine what with its colorful flavors, delightful scents and beautiful array colors. There is also another attribute that tea has in common with wine: that their flavor (for some teas) grows better with time.
Pu-erh tea is just that…a tea that is stored for a period of time where its flavor matures and improves with time. However, it is not just stored in loose leaf form, it can also be packed tightly into balls or disks or other fun shapes.
How is it that flavor can improve with time? Well, like wine (or beer) Pu-erh goes through a fermentation process while stored which changes the chemical make-up of the tea thus giving it a different flavor. It even changes its color!
Isn’t that cool? It makes you wonder who came up with that idea. Well, never fear, dear readers, there is a legend for that!
According to some , tea merchants of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A. D.) began packing the teas into bricks, which were easier to load and transport. It would take these teas month to reach their destination. These destinations ranged from Tibet to India to Beijing. During the extended travel and the ever changing climates something happened: the tea began to change. The aforementioned fermentation process occurred during transport. This made the tea’s color change from green to dark and the flavor became richer and more complex.
The tea was called Pu-erh after the town of the same name which is located in central Yunnan. The teas did not actually originate from this village; however, it was a centralized trading post for teas harvested and made from the nearby areas before being sent to faraway lands.
I thought this was such a fascinating and unique take on tea. I think it would make such a great gift idea! Think about it… It would make a great wedding or birthday gift. Each year or anniversary, the tea can be enjoyed because it will continue to improve.
What do you think, dear readers? Any other ideas of what you could do with this tea?