Scroll down and read more about our loose leaf pu-erh tea adventures. Our goal is to create the most enjoyable and beautiful loose leaf tea blends for our CommuniTea Center family.
(Or, if you’re ready to purchase loose leaf pu-erh tea, head directly to our web store!)
What is Pu-erh Tea?
Pu-erh tea comes from the same plant as other types of loose leaf teas (black tea, green tea, white tea, etc.). It is also known as “pu’er,” “dark tea,” or “post-fermented tea.” What sets it apart is that the leaves undergo an extra processing step called fermentation. Tea artisans expose the leaves to specially-controlled temperature and humidity settings for a period of time, which causes microbial fermentation. As a result, the chemistry and taste of the tea changes, reducing astringency while increasing a special, earthy quality.
There are many, many different varieties of pu-erh tea, but one way we can broadly classify them is by the length of fermentation:
Sheng (“raw”) pu-erh teas
ferment over a very long period of time, from 10-50+ years. They aren’t considered fully mature until they are aged 30 years. Traditionally, sheng pu-erh tea leaves are compressed into cakes or different shapes.
Shu (“cooked” or “ripened”) pu-erh teas
developed as a result of the high demand for rare vintage sheng cakes. Shu pu-erh teas are exposed to a warm, humid environment under controlled conditions. Consequently, the aging process accelerates, taking anywhere from 45 to 60 days. Unlike sheng pu-erh, shu pu-erh does not vastly improve with continued aging. Shu pu-erh can be loose or pressed into shapes.
What are the Health Benefits of Loose Leaf Pu-erh Tea?
In Asia, people believe that pu-erh tea aids in digestion and counteracts fat, so they often sip it with a heavy meal, like dim sum. Indeed, there is evidence that suggests it may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood). Advertisors often promote pu-erh as a weight loss aid, but support for those claims is mixed. Some people drink pu-erh tea to prevent or ease a hangover.
All true teas, including pu-erh, contain some level of antioxidants called flavonoids (like EGCG), which may help neutralize free radicals and repair oxidative stress. Free radical damage is thought to contribute to health issues like cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.
Random Fun Facts:
Pu-erh is one of the oldest types of tea. It originated in Yunnan Province in the south of China, where people originally compressed the leaves because it was easier to transport tea cakes or bricks to the far-flung regions of the East.
Today, in order to prevent other fermented teas from using the appellation “pu-erh,” the Bureau of Standard Measurement of Yunnan Province specifically defines pu-erh as “fermented green tea products obtained from the large leaves of trees harvested in Yunnan Province.”
Collectors often spend a fortune to acquire the best aged sheng pu-erh, usually made with large leaves of wild tea plants that have been growing for several centuries. Because of such high demand, fakes and copies of expensive pu-erh tea cakes are not uncommon.
Steeping Tips for Loose Leaf Pu-erh Tea
- Serving size: Use 1 teaspoon to 1 heaping teaspoon tea leaves per 8 oz water
- Water temperature: 195°-205°
- Steep Time: 3 to 5 minutes. Then be sure to remove the tea leaves.
To take the guesswork out, each package of CommuniTea Center tea has recommendations for preparing one serving of tea. For further reading and steeping tips, check out All About Teas!
If you are interested in serving, retailing, or private-labeling loose leaf pu-erh tea (or any other tea type/s), please visit our Wholesale Inquiry page.
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