Luxury Ingredients: Black Tea (Pu-erh style)
Country of Origin: China
Region: Yunnan Province - P'uerh Prefecture
Shipping Port: Hong Kong
Grade: Aged select pu-erh - 5 years old
Altitude: 2000 - 4000 feet above sea level
Manufacture Type: Pu-erh special method
Cup Characteristics: Hint on mustiness with a bit of earthy character sometimes described as old or elemental. Compared to young pu-erh this tea is quite mild
Infusion: Dull with a hint of pu-erh brightness, black
This tea is famed for its medicinal properties. The leaves come from the Yunnan Dayeh variety of tea tree - which is purported to be closely related to the original tea tree of pre-glacial times. During the 1200's the troops of Kubla Khan are said to have introduced Pu-erh to the rest of China for its medicinal value. Pu-erh is often taken for relief of indigestion and dysentery but has also been reported very useful in the reduction of cholesterol. Kunming Medical College claims that pu-erh can lower cholesterol by 17 percent and triglycerides by 22 percent. They may have been slightly over zealous about the properties of pu-erh as a University in Berlin and another in France found that the claim was perhaps overstated. A study in Japan indicated that all tea lowered cholesterol and that pu-erh was more effective than green tea. Other followers of 'Chinese tea for health' report that pu-erh can; cut the grease, help digestion, promote body fluid secretion, quench the thirst, invigorate the spleen and dispel alcoholic toxins Whether pu-erh is effective or not for the various claims that researchers and tea drinkers make, has not been firmly established; but what is certain is that pu-erh is rather unusual and has properties many other teas do not share.
The method of production is: The tea leaves are picked, rolled, withered in the hot sun, after which they are steamed and pressed into cakes. (This p'uerh is broken up out of the cakes to make it easier to deal with). The steaming process generates some moisture and when compressed (without drying) into the cakes, in the course of time the tea takes on a musty and earthy character. Pu-erh that gets somewhat moldy before it naturally dries is considered the best. Pu-erh is then stored for years. As with wine, young pu-erh is considered the least valuable whereas pu-erh 5 years or older is more highly prized. Interestingly the taste of pu-erh becomes more mellow with age and perhaps more acceptable to the western palate.
The taste has been described as mellow, however those not accustomed to it might not enjoy the 'old' character. For others though, this flavor will add to its aura of wonder and seem fitting in a tea prized for its medicinal properties. Some consumers have recommended that pu-erh be blended with chrysanthemum florets to make the taste more acceptable. In fact this blend can be ordered in tea houses in southern China and Hong Kong.
Hot tea brewing method: Bring freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 teaspoon of tea for each cup into the teapot. Pour water into teapot to cover the leaves - pour the water of - in effect you are 'rinsing' the tea. Next pour the boiling water into the teapot over the 'rinsed' leaves. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea). Add milk and sugar to taste though generally not done.
Iced tea brewing method: Not recommended - however if you do (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 5 teaspoons of tea into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the leaves. Add ice and top-up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste.