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 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.
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.’