Pu'er Tea

Fascinating, complex and prized for its reputed health benefits, Pu’er is unique in taste, colour and aroma from all other teas. Our Pu'er tea is a particularly fine variety, an intriguing, deep and rewarding tea.
Puer tea collection from Dragonfly

What is pu'er tea?

Sometimes called pu-erh, pu’er tea undergoes fermentation as well as oxidation, producing a dark and intriguing infusion.

Pu’er tea leaves

  • Like black tea, green tea and the other ‘true’ teas, pu’er tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea bush.
  • Traditional pu’er tea hails from Yunnan Province in China, where the tea plants are often hundreds of years old.
  • After harvesting, the leaves are withered and dried at low temperatures to ensure their enzymes remain active.
  • They then undergo fermentation, which can take several months or several years depending on whether the tea is ‘raw’ or ‘ripened’.
  • Pu’er tea leaves can be loose or compressed into disc-like ‘cakes’ or other shapes.

Pu’er tea infusion

  • Pu’er tea is quite unlike other teas, with an intensely dark liquor and deeply earthy, complex flavour profile.
  • The taste of the infusion is influenced by many factors, from the age of the Camellia sinensis plant the leaves were plucked from, to the conditions of the space in which the ageing tea was stored.
  • Like other fermented foods and drinks, pu’er tea is thought to be beneficial to the gut.

Brewing

Because of its dark colour, you might suspect you’ve over-brewed your pu-er tea when you haven’t! Here are our top tips brewing the perfect cup of Dragonfly Good Dragon Pu’er Tea.

Water

  • Filtered or spring water makes better-tasting tea.
  • Start with an empty kettle to ensure the water is fresh.
  • Ideally, add only as much water to the kettle as you need for your cup/pot. This saves energy and avoids the need to waste the spent water when you come to make your next cup.

Temperature

  • Pu’er tea leaves can tolerate higher temperatures than some other teas.
  • We recommend you leave your kettle to cool for about a minute after boiling before steeping your pu’er tea.

How much tea?

  • Dragonfly Teabags contain just the right amount of tea leaves for a mug of tea (about 250ml capacity).

Steeping

  • Combine the water and teabag (some prefer to bring the tea to the water, and vice versa).
  • Steep your pu’er tea for 1-3 minutes to allow for the release of the complex flavours and beneficial compounds.
  • Brewing for longer will produce a ‘heavier’ tasting infusion.
  • For tea that’s perfect for you, try it after one minute of brewing, then every 30 seconds until it’s as you like it. Remove the teabag and enjoy!

Taste

Dark, smooth and complex

  • The liquor of pu’er tea is rich and dark, often coffee-brown to black.
  • It is less astringent than some other teas, because the polyphenols from Camellia sinensis – which are responsible for the astringency in tea – are broken down during fermentation. This makes for a smooth, soft tea.
  • The aroma of well-stored pu’er is earthy, like woodland after rain.
  • Taste profiles vary according to whether the tea is raw or ripened and a number of other factors, such as the age of the tea plant and the processing methods.
  • Common flavour notes include wild mushroom, malt, chocolate, herbs, leather and farmyard.      
  • Typically pu’er is taken without milk, although many enjoy the added sweetness and body that a dash of milk can give.

Wellbeing

Properties and benefits of pu’er tea

  • While pu’er contains fewer polyphenols than green and white teas, microbial fermentation imbues pu’er tea with other health-promoting properties.
  • Fermented foods and drinks are especially prized for aiding digestion.
  • Statins have been found in pu’er tea, which studies show reduce cholesterol and inflammation.
  • Drinkers report that pu’er is an excellent digestif, especially soothing after a heavy meal.

Tea Growing

Growing pu’er tea

  • Pu’er tea is made from leaves of Camellia sinensis, particularly the larger-leafed assamica variety of the shrub.
  • It is grown and made in the fertile Yunnan Province in southwestern China.
  • Some of the oldest tea trees in the world grow here in the forests of Xishuangbanna - some 30 metres tall and over 1,000 years old.
  • These old shrubs yield leaves perfect for fine, intriguing pu’er teas.

Making pu’er tea

  • After harvesting, withering, rolling and pan-frying re-wetted leaves at low temperatures to keep the leaves’ enzymes intact, pu’er undergoes fermentation.
  • Carefully stored raw or ‘Sheng’ pu'er is left to age for several years, allowing the tea to naturally oxidise and ferment – maturing and refining the flavour.  
  • Aged Sheng pu'er teas are among the most expensive on earth.
  • Ripened (Shou) pu'er leaves, on the other hand, are piled up with added water and exposed to optimal heat, humidity and microbial activity to encourage faster oxidation and fermentation.
  • This process can take a matter of months rather than years, and produces teas that taste similar, but not identical to Sheng pu’er teas, which tend to be lighter and more delicate.
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