"What is Puerh?" Level One - Educational Tea Tasting Set
Puerh tea cannot be defined simply. It is not one flavor or one aroma. It is not one experience. Puerh tea is a multitude of experiences that are nearly as diverse as all the other teas combined. There are many variables that each add an order of magnitude to the complexity of puerh.
- Region / Terroir
- Tea Tree Varietal
- Tea Tree Age
- Processing Skill
- Type of Puerh: Sheng / Raw or Shou / Ripe
- Storage Type: Humid or Dry
- Length of Storage
With this educational tasting set we wanted to give a good picture of the range of flavor and aroma possible in puerh tea. Puerh has two main categories. There is the traditional puerh called Sheng or Raw puerh; this is largely unchanged for 1,500 years. Then you have Shou or Ripe/Cooked puerh; this was created with methods discovered in the 1970's. Traditionally sheng puerh was allowed to age over the decades to become aged puerh. Shou puerh was created during the attempt to mimic what aged sheng puerh tasted like. Shou puerh starts as sheng puerh but is then allowed to undergo enhanced aging in a tightly controlled hot and humid environment. The original idea was to create aged sheng puerh without waiting decades, but what ultimately resulted is a new category of puerh.
Young sheng puerh, aged sheng puerh, and shou puerh makes up the triangle of modern day puerh. Young sheng puerh is often floral, fruity, bitter, and astringent with grassy notes of hay. It will brew light and clear and is biologically very similar to green tea. Over the years young sheng puerh will change. There is an active bacteriological fungal fermentation happening inside the leaf. Each year it changes in flavor and aroma.
Aged sheng puerh is thoroughly unique in the tea world. It is deep and memorable with a musty smoothness and earthiness reminiscent of walking through an old cathedral or opening an ancient book. It will brew thick and dark.
Shou puerh is very difficult to make. It takes multiple tons of sheng puerh leaf material and several months to do right. Without constant attention from experts it can create stinking garbage that smells of rotting fish or a muddy stagnant pond. Well crafted shou puerh however is a true delight. It will be earthy with strong mineral notes. It can smell like the forest after a rain. It will often have notes of mushroom or chocolate. It is delicious. Because shou puerh has undergone an artifically enhanced aging process there is less effect of aging it over time. It is intended to be drunk now.
We offer this discounted educational tasting set as a way to explore the three pillars of puerh in an affordable way. There is a total of 70grams of high quality puerh in these three samples.
- 20g aged sheng puerh: 2007 Changtai "Menghai" Tuo Cha
- 20g young sheng puerh: 2022 "Honeybomb"
- 20g shou puerh: 2014 "Iron Forge"
Each sample comes with enough puerh to experiment a couple of times. Each session these teas can be steeped 10+ times easily. We recommend brewing gongfu style in a gaiwan for the best experience.
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