'I am in China at the moment and trying out some of their teas as I usually do when I'm here. I am sampling some of the green Pu-erh tea and I enjoy it. Was wondering what grade your Pu-erh tea was... ie. tips only, or leaves? twigs? I'm looking forward to ordering more of your tea in the future as it is of the finest quality that I have tried thus far. thanks.'
Different leaves for different teas
The tea leaves used for Pu-erh tea is somehow different from the others:
- Good quality green tea and white tea are made of very young top tip leaves (not more than top three leaves). The quality decreases with including leaves further down the branches. These teas are light, refreshing with exquisite complex aftertaste.
- Oolong teas (semi-fermented) on the other hand, are made of more mature tea leaves. They are richer in color and brew and tend to be more aromatic with smoother texture.
- Pu-erh tea is different again. The tea leaves are harvested from tea trees, other than shrubs (even though they are from the same group of plants, Camellia sinensis) and the tea leaves are much bigger, up to 25 cm (compared to 2-3 cm for other tea leaves).
Pu-erh tea leaves
Pu-erh teas that are made of young tea leaves and mature tea leaves often head to different directions:
- Very young tip leaves are often made into lose leaf tea. The appearance will be: very fine tip tea leaves covered by glossily gold color down. The description used for the taste of these teas is 'mellow with depth', sometimes these teas could be slightly bitter, but very refreshing. These teas are often quite expensive, it is scarce in China, and even rarer overseas. (Caution: not all loose leaf pu-erh tea is of high quality. )
- The Pu-erh tea cakes (or balls & bricks) are often made of mature leaves. The description used for these teas aged are 'mellow and smooth'. The mature tea leaves, event twigs (adequate amount) contain certain fragrant substances that play an important part during the post-fermenting process to produce the aged Pu-erh tea’s richly aroma and mellowing taste.
In summary, Pu-erh tea made of mature leaves is not necessary of low quality like the other teas. It is one of the teas that it takes time and patience to experience the different varieties and choice that one you prefer.