This fermented pu-erh tea is produced in May 2015 in Lincang, Yunnan. It has not reached its peak age yet (ideally it should age at least 8 years). Still, it was pleasant enough, and my friends also enjoyed its earthiness and mellow character. The packaging mentions ‘old trees’ but I am not sure how reliable this information is, so I’ll ignore it. As I do not have a lot of information about this tea, this will be an informative post about shu pu-erh in general.
Going back to the basics, I like the following description from this publication which suggests that fermented pu-erh tea is produced by microbial fermentation of piled fresh loose tea or green pressed tea. The tea is then stored at room temperature for an extended and appropriate period. Different from raw pu-erh production, shu pu-erh requires a fermentation by wet piling throughout this process, both enzymatic and nonenzymatic oxidations play a vital role in the transformation of tea components. Furthermore, oxidation is assisted by environmental microbes and oxygen. Although the sources of bacteria are poorly understood, we know that they might stem from the inside (endogenous) and outside (exogenous) of tea leaves. According to my source, there is not enough evidence as to what affect endogenous and exogenous microbes has on the tea. It would be interesting to figure that out. It would be interesting to know whether shu and sheng pu-erh have different levels of endo vs exo microbes.
In terms of ripe/shu pu-erh production, the temperature and moisture of the piles are essential for determining the degree of fermentation and quality of the tea. I did drink good quality pu-erhs in the past and compared to this one they were cleaner and thicker. However, I think this is a good contender for sipping daily as it bears the main characteristic of a shu (i.e. earthiness) with a mellow taste.
Source: Ho, C.T. (Ed.), Lin, J.K. (Ed.), Shahidi, F. (Ed.). (2009). Tea and Tea Products. Boca Raton: CRC Press, https://doi.org/10.1201/9781420008036
Type: Pu-erh Origin: Yunnan Harvest time: 2015 Leave colour: Shades of dark brown and maroon Liquor colour: Dark red/brown Tea aroma: Earthy and woody Tea taste: Mellow with some earthiness Steeping/brewing: You can use around 100°C water temperature and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste. Shelf life: 10 years and more (to improve shelf-life store the tea leaves in a dry, ventilated place with low temperatures and away from odour)