As we’ve already noted in these pages a number of times, there are six major types of tea derived from the Camellia sinensis plant – black, green, white, yellow, oolong and puerh. In the West, black tea is probably the best known of the bunch and green tea has swelled in popularity in the last several years. White tea and oolong have increased in popularity thanks, at least in part, to the increase in popularity of green tea.
Which leaves yellow – a relative rarity – and puerh, which also shows up as pu-er, pu erh, pu-erh, pu’erh, pu’er and probably some other variations. Puerh is a type of tea that for most of us in the West is probably the least well known of the bunch. It’s hardly possible to tackle the vast subject of puerh tea in the brief space available here, but we can list a few good resources for novices.
Puerh is produced in China’s Yunnan province, in the general vicinity of a city that changed its name to Pu’er not so long ago, a tribute to its most famous product. For good basic overviews of puerh, refer to the Wikipedia entry and to Pu-erh Tea: An Introduction, from the Miro Tea blog.
Also worth a look, Pu-erh.Net, which the publisher describes in the following terms, “a Web Site that chronicles a Westerner’s quest to discover, and publish, the truth about Puerh. I attempt to dispel the myths, and educate the English speaking public, about this wonderful and mysterious variety of tea.” Among the resources at Pu-erh.Net, reviews, article, links and much more.
For another useful source of information about puerh try the Puerh Tea Community hosted at LiveJournal. It bills itself as “The Place For Puerh,” and is described as “an LJ community for lovers of pu’er tea and the curious. Pu’er tea is an earthy tea that improves with age, much like wine or cigars.” Among the resources here, an extensive selection of puerh reviews.
Some types of puerh get better with age and so are often compared to wine, with a similar cachet among collectors and connoisseur types. Aged puerh can be very expensive, something that’s often focused on in various news articles about puerh. For an example of such an article, look here. Some puerh is potentially quite valuable so it’s helpful to know how to spot fake puerh. For some instruction on this matter, refer to this article.
Don’t forget to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!