As one of the rarest of teas, puerh does not have the same following as other varieties. It seems to carry a mysterious air about it, and many people have not even heard of puerh. One of the biggest questions people have is how puerh tea compares to other, more recognizable tea options.
The family behind Zen & Tea is here to help you understand the beauty and benefits of this incredible tea. We offer the highest-quality authentic puerh tea available.
A Wide Range of Tea Choices
Although Americans love their coffee, tea is gaining traction quickly. And worldwide, tea dominates. It is second only to water in global consumption, commanding more than $200 million in revenue.
There are more than 1000 varieties of tea in the world, and most fall into these categories:
Although it doesn’t represent a significant market share, puerh offers tremendous potential health benefits and is probably the oldest form of tea on Earth. While other teas fill multiple shelves in any grocery store, you’re unlikely to find puerh nestled among them.
Hailing from Yunnan Province in China, puerh tea has long been part of a healthy lifestyle. It is a common option to aid in digestion and appears to help lower blood sugar levels, as well. With 4000 years of use, puerh has amassed significant anecdotal evidence for its health advantages.
How Does Puerh Compare?
No matter the variety, all non-herbal teas come from the same type of tea plant, Camellia sinensis. But the varietals and their processing are very different. It is sort of like how every kind of wine comes from grapes.
Since it is such a rare tea to find in US shops, people have a lot of questions about puerh tea. This is not your grandmother’s Lipton. Here is a look at how puerh stacks up against more familiar varieties.
Many of the tea varieties have similar caffeine content. White, green, yellow, and raw puerh teas all have around 30-50mg per 8-ounce serving.
Black tea and ripe puerh are neck and neck, but black tea has slightly higher amounts, between 60 and 90mg. Oolong and ripe puerh tea are in the 60-75mg range. To reach higher caffeine levels when brewing tea, you can use more leaves, a longer brewing time, or hotter water.
To round out the comparison, we can take a look at coffee, as well. It comes in as the caffeine heavy hitter with about 95-150mg per cup.
No matter the tea, the makers must follow roughly the same steps:
- Plucking - Harvesters pick the young leaves to make the best tea.
- Withering - Leaves dry on trays until most of the water content evaporates.
- Steaming or Pan Firing - Green teas go through this step to stop the oxidation process.
- Rolling - This step releases the oils in the tea leaves and allows for uniform oxidation. Traditionally done by hand, some factories now use machines for rolling.
- Drying - Drying machines or large ovens stop the oxidation process.
Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs upon exposure to the air after harvesting. Oxidation levels determine the flavor, color, and aroma of each type of tea. Green teas have no oxidation, while black teas undergo full oxidation.
Puerh is unique among teas in that it undergoes a final step during its processing: fermentation. Raw puerh ferments slowly over many years before the tea is ready for consumption.
Ripe puerh ferments more quickly, over a few months, through a process called “wet piling.” Factory workers heap the dried leaves and add moisture and heat to speed up the fermentation process.
Just as wine varieties have varying flavor profiles, so do different teas. Green teas tend to be mild and herbal tasting. They are delicious on their own, but tea makers also often blend them with jasmine or hibiscus.
Black teas have a bold, deep, woodsy flavor profile. Their prolonged oxidation allows for a more developed flavor. Oolong tea falls somewhere in between green and black options, with notes ranging from smoky to sweet.
White and yellow teas are very mild and bright in their flavors. White teas, in particular, tend to have a sweet taste.
Generally, you will use about three ounces of tea leaves with eight ounces of water. Of course, you can adjust this amount per your preferences or when trying to control the caffeine amounts. You will want to steep your tea for two to four minutes. When heating the water for your tea, keep the following information in mind:
- Yellow tea is quite fragile, so be careful with your water temperature for steeping. Ideal temperature: 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit
- White and green teas have more delicate leaves. Using too hot of water will give you bitter tea. Ideal temperature: 170-185 degrees Fahrenheit
- Oolong and raw puerh tea can handle more heat. Ideal temperature: 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit
- Black tea and ripe puerh have sturdier leaves, so they require a higher water temperature. Ideal temperature: 208-212 degrees Fahrenheit
Not only will you have a delicious cup of tea to enjoy, but you can even re-steep your leaves if you wish. Puerh tea, in particular, is perfect for a second steeping.
Puerh and Hei Cha
These two types of tea are often confused with each other because they are both fermented teas. The critical difference is that puerh tea only comes from Yunnan Province. A fermented tea that comes from elsewhere in China is hei cha.
Because authentic puerh tea is so valuable, there are often counterfeit products on the market. Be sure to do your research and only buy from reputable sources.
Rely on Zen & Tea
Continuing Master Wang’s tradition of excellence, Zen & Tea offers only the highest quality puerh tea from Yunnan. Take time today to shop our online store and prepare to enjoy the benefits of puerh.