What is pu-er tea?

A category of tea unto itself, like oolong, black, green or white tea, pu-er has been produced in Yunnan, China, from ancient times. It was transported from the market town of Pu-Er until the tea itself eventually acquired this name outside of Yunnan.

Pu-er is processed tea that undergoes a secondary fermentation process, and comes compressed in various shapes, with “cake form” being quite common. What is most unique about pu-er tea is that it actually improves with age. After processing, the compressed tea is left for several years (sometimes up to 50) to mature and develop its flavour, becoming sweeter and less bitter as time passes. Needless to say, such pu-er teas, known as “raw pu-er”, can be very expensive. Modern methods can produce pu-er tea in much less time, using a bacterial culture to catalyze the process. This is known as “cooked pu-er”.