Pu-erh Popularity on the Rise: What Makes Pu-erh Tea So Great?

August 28, 2017

Pu-erh Popularity on the Rise: What Makes Pu-erh Tea So Great? From aged whiskeys to vintage wines, here in the USA we’re no strangers to enjoying the complex flavors of a time-ripened beverage. So why did it take so long for us to realize that aged tea might offer the same kind of layered, mature flavor? Regardless of the reason, it seems the west has warmed up to the idea of fermented tea in recent years. Pu-erhs have been attracting a lot of attention over the past decade. With the popularity of pu-erhs on the rise, more and more tea enthusiasts are joining the discussion—just what makes pu-erh tea so great?

Pu-erh is a truly special tea. Hailing from China, pu-erh is known for its rich, deep flavor totally exclusive from other kinds of teas. Pu-erh achieves these intricate flavor profiles because of the way in which it is processed. The tea leaves are usually pan-fried for a controlled amount of time and then fermented. Since the title “pu-erh” refers to the way that the tea is processed, pu-erh can be made from a variety of tea leaves. Therefore, these teas vary greatly in taste and quality. The flavor of your pu-erh may differ depending on the source and the maker, much like how wines vary from vineyard to vineyard!

So why drink pu-erh? The taste, for one, is an experience that can’t be replicated by any other beverage. Pu-erh is weighty and coarse, yet airy down the throat. It is pungent and sweet, reminiscent of honeyed fruit and loamy soil. Admittedly, pu-erh is armed with a host of complex and mature flavors, but that’s part of what makes drinking it so fun! Pu-erhs vary immensely between vintages, blends, and producers. Should you find yourself in the company of a good cup of pu-erh, expect it to warm and relax. Sip it slowly and enjoy the intricacy behind the layers of flavor.

Beyond its flavor, pu-erh is valued for its ability to be steeped multiple times. Just a pinch off your pu-erh cake can last you through several cups of tea. Typically, pu-erhs can achieve upwards of a dozen infusions from the same portion of leaves. Additionally, pu-erhs have an extremely short steeping time (sometimes as short as 10 seconds!). Be careful not to over-steep, or else your resulting brew will have a lot of astringency (the bitterness that sometimes results from improper brewing).

Tin Roof Teas carries a wide selection of pu-erhs, and we regularly have showings in-store for those wanting to get more involved. Stop by and ask our staff about their recommendations!