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the appetizer:

The Tea Enthusiast's Handbook: A Guide to Enjoying the World's Best Teas by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss, includes excerpts like Pu-erh Tea; Gallery of Pu-erh Teas; and The Perfect Cup: Specifics for Steeping Pu-erh Tea.

Cookbook

 

Gallery of Pu-erh Teas

by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss

Pu-erh Tea

 

Sheng Pu-erh
(raw, uncooked, or green Pu-erh)

  • Region: Yunnan Province, China
  • Style: Open leaf and buds, compressed into a round cake
  • Manufacture: Not oxidized prior to natural postproduction fermentation
  • Flavor: Smooth, sweet, and lingering. deep woodsy flavor (umami)
  • Aroma: Lightly herbaceous, with the clean fragrance of vigorous plant material plucked in a healthy forest, and well-made mao cha (primary tea unique to Pu-erh)
  • Liquor: Clear burnt umber, tinged with a golden amber hue
  • Steeping: Numerous short infusions at 205 degrees to 210 degrees F. Drink plain.

Sheng Pu-erh has incredible depth of character, with a flavor that has been likened to the essence of the forest floor. It is said that Pu-erh broth (the term Pu-erh connoisseurs use for the tea liquor) tastes deliciously "of the good, clean earth." Developed from years of experimentation going back to the days of the Tea Horse Road, Pu-erh is one of the unique examples of terroir that exist to help us celebrate centuries-old tradition. Sheng Pu-erh is rarely sold as loose-leaf tea, and the cakes are wrapped individually and marked with information detailing the village or tea factory that manufactured it.

 

Shou Pu-Erh
(ripe, cooked, or black Pu-erh)

  • Region: Yunnan Province, China
  • Style: Open leaf and buds, plus some broken leaf
  • Manufacture: Oxidized prior to artificial fermentation
  • Flavor: Smooth, deep, more pronounced "fermented" taste
  • Aroma: Bold, earthy, and reminiscent of damp leaves, mushrooms, or a forest floor after a rain shower
  • Liquor: Deep burnt-umber, tinged with a red-orange hue
  • Steeping: Numerous short infusions at 205 degrees to 210 degrees F. Drink plain.

Shou Pu-erh is virtually ready to drink as soon as it is purchased and does not offer the challenges of aging that sheng Pu-erh does. It is less of an acquired taste and more of an everyman's Pu-erh in China. Shou Pu-erh has a lingering, funky, dank flavor and aroma reminiscent of tree bark and rich, moist soil. Shou Pu-erh is more accommodating in taste than its sheng counterpart when both are drunk young.

Shou Pu-erh is a modern variation of traditional sheng Pu-erh; the base leaf in cooked Pu-erh is oxidized and undergoes artificial, accelerated fermentation before being compressed. Shou Pu-erh is made into tea cakes and is also commonly found in loose-leaf form. It is more reasonably priced than sheng Pu-erh.

 
  • from:
    The Tea Enthusiast's Handbook:
    A Guide to Enjoying the World's Best Teas
  • by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss
  • Ten Speed Press 2010
  • $16.99 paper, 208 pages
  • ISBN-10: 158008804X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-58008-804-6
  • Reprinted by permission.

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This page created September 2010


 


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