Pu’Er (also spelled ‘puerh,’ ‘puer,’ or pu’erh) tea is a Chinese style of tea that has a unique history. Sometimes also called Dark tea or Black tea, there are two categories that fall under Pu’Er: Sheng Pu and Shou Pu. All pu’er teas are produced in the Yun Nan Province of China, but have become a popular choice for Western tea drinkers. Pu’ers are traditionally consumed after large, greasy meals or after a heavy night of drinking as a digestif in regions of China and Hong Kong.
Raw Pu'er (Sheng Pu)
Originally a green tea, Sheng Pu is pan-fried at lower temperatures to intentionally not kill all of the enzymes, as one would with a green tea. It is then post-fermented, with active bacteria that further ferments the tea after production through fungus - allowing it to change over time.
There has become a tradition of aging pu’ers, in the way that you would age a fine wine, and as it ages, its flavors enhance. The astringent qualities of a green tea transform into a fresh fruit like sweetness. It’s hard to describe the taste of a Sheng Pu, since there is a massive amount of variety, but many are rich and earthy, with notes of mushrooms, or ripened fruits.
Ripe Pu'er (Shou Pu)
Extremely new to the tea world, Shou Pu was discovered in the 1970s, while trying to recreate the aged flavors of a Sheng Pu, without the aging process. Shou Pu did not come out as ‘artificially aged’ Sheng Pu, what they created was a distinctly dark (in color), earthy, musky, and savory category of tea. Like Sheng Pus, Shou Pus are post-fermented.