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Preparing Puer Tea

What is Puer?
Puer is a subcategory of dark tea. It is an aged tea from the Yunnan province of China. It has an active (probiotic) bacteria that deepens the flavor of the tea over time. In theory, the older it is, the better and more valuable it becomes.

What does it taste like?
Puer can have an earthy, rich, and dark flavor. It can also be sweet and floral with a tingling sensation.

How do they age it?
The specifics of aging are closely guarded trade secrets.

What types are there?
There are two types of puer: shou (or cooked: black/ripe) and sheng (or uncooked: green/raw). Shou puer goes through an accelerated secondary oxidation process resulting in a deeper, darker brew. Sheng puer is oxidized naturally and gradually over time, initially producing a much lighter, more "green" brew. Puer can be loose leaf, or it can be compressed into cakes or bricks.

How do you prepare Puer?
  • Traditional Method:
    Measure three grams* of tea to 6 oz of water. Pour 208-212 degree water over the leaves, and steep for 10-20 seconds. Pour off the water. This is called rinsing the leaves. It removes impurities and allows the leaves to begin opening. Pour in another 6 oz of 208-212 degree water, steep about 30 seconds and serve. The same leaves can be re-steeped in a similar fashion 4-8 times, perhaps adding 15-30 seconds to each steeping time.
  • Western Method:
    Many westerners prefer a stronger brew. Using the same proportions of tea and the same water temperature, Puer can be brewed almost indefinitely: five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, even 50 minutes. When Puer is steeped a long time it can become as full-bodied and dark as coffee, but it never turns bitter, acidic, or astringent. It just gets stronger, thicker, fuller, and sometimes sweeter. This is a very untraditional preparation method.

* Three grams of Puer is approximately 1 measuring teaspoon. Whether it is a loose leaf Puer or a Puer cake/brick, the quantity should be roughly the same.