How is Pu-Erh Tea made?

Puerh is a tea made from Yunnan raw materials, which is processed using a special technology. There are two varieties, Sheng and Shou. The first appeared many centuries ago, is distinguished by the ability to ripen and improve the taste over the years. The technology for the second one was invented in 1974. It is produced according to the method of accelerated fermentation, so the tea does not need long aging.

Below we will tell you how Pu-Erh tea made and what affects its quality.


It all starts from Mao Cha

We already know what Pu-Erh tea is made of - from the leaves and buds of Yunnan tea trees. Fresh raw materials are converted into Mao Cha or raw tea (晒 青 毛茶), and from it, depending on the technology, Sheng or Shou is obtained.

To obtain Mao Cha, the leaves are processed using one of the following methods:

  • Dried in the sun, then rolled and re-dried.
  • First, they are steamed, after rolling they are sent to dry in the sun.
  • Use roasting, twist, layout to dry in the fresh air.
Any method is aimed at slowing down natural fermentation. In China, this is called "sha cin" (杀青), killing greens or fixing. The result is what Pu-Erh is made of - something like green tea, in which metabolic processes have been "frozen".
Raw tea must be crumpled so that the leaf releases juice through small cracks. It is the key to a juicy taste and pleasant aroma. Then they are sent for twisting. In large factories, this is done automatically, in huge rotating drums. On village farms, it rolled by hand.

It remains to dry the Mao Cha in the sun or a greenhouse. Their tea is stored for several days until only 10% moisture remains. It turns out "shai-cing" in which the master easily recognizes the "taste of the sun" If the tea were dried not in the fresh air, by the oven, there are be a smoky aftertaste.

As a result, from 40 kilograms of fresh tea leaves, only 10 kilograms of Mao Cha is obtained. Full-fledged Pu-Erh tea made from it, how Sheng and Shou made, we will tell separately.

Production of Sheng Pu-Erh

For the best loose Sheng, use premium, Mao Cha. It turns out to be rare and expensive options, especially if the raw materials were collected in the gardens of famous tea places.

How to make Pu-Erh in the form of a classic flatbread:

Pu-Erh Tea
  • Raw tea is weighed, poured into a cylinder with a lattice bottom, and placed on a kettle, where water boils. The brand label “nen fei” (内 飞) is placed on top.
  • In a few minutes, the tea leaf is steamed, it is wrapped in a bag, and pressed down to make a pancake. On the back of the cake, a notch is formed from the fabric twisted into a knot.
  • It remains to steam the tea again and send it under a press made of stone, wood, or metal. The flattened pancake is allowed to dry and dried in cabinets at a temperature of 45-55 ° C.
Sheng Pu-Erh TeaPu-Erh Tea
Production of Shou Pu-Erh

In the 70s of the last century, tea technologists thought about how to make Pu-Erh, which does not need to ripen for a long time. Then they invented the technology with the stage "wotuy" (渥 堆), which is also called the wet stack or wet heap.

   Shou Pu-Erh production looks like this:

  • Raw tea is piled in a heap that reaches two meters in height and weighs 1-4 tons. It is covered with a cloth and poured over with water. The tea leaves lack oxygen and the oxidation process begins.
  • The master monitors the process, controls the temperature, and agitates the raw material so that it does not overheat in the heap.
  • Wet stacking lasts from 40 days to a year. Eventually, the tea darkens and its properties are fixed by drying in the sun.
Shou Pu-Erth Tea
The almost finished Shou is dividing into fractions:

The clumps are selling as Lao Cha Tou (老 茶 头).
From small leaves, loose Gong Ting (宫廷 宫廷) obtained.
The rest is pressing into pancakes and bricks. They use the press, as for the Sheng.
 Choosing Pu-Erh, as Sheng and Shou make, you already know, do not chase after age - even young tea can be delicious. If it is making from raw materials from a single site, a mountain, or even a tree, it is a rare option for gourmets and collectors. Most often, blends are producing from plantation raw materials - early leaves and about 30% mature.
The Pu-Erh recipe is writing on the wrapper. The first two digits indicate the year, the third indicates the grade of raw materials, last indicate the factory code.
Pu-Erh TeaPu-Erth Tea

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