Pu-erh (普洱茶) is a kind of Chinese tea, which in Poland is considered as a red tea due to the color of the infusion. However, in contrast to Europeans, the people of China consider Pu-erh to be black tea. In this reasoning, tea is determined by the color of the drought, not the color of the drink itself, as it is in most European countries.
The name was taken from the Pu'er region near Yunnan province (雲南) in China. Pu-erh tea is traditionally made of tea leaves, wild tea trees called Qingmao, growing in the southern part of the country. But not only. A significant number of such trees also grows in the tropical regions of such exotic countries as Burma, Vietnam or Laos, as well as in the eastern part of India. The Yunnan province started the production of this tea as early as in the period of the Three Kingdoms in the years 220-360. Then, the excellent tactic of Zhu Ge Liang from Sichuan encouraged the people to start cultivating tea, which was to lead to better living conditions. For many people, Zhu Ge Liang was called the god of tea.
Pu-erh tea was sold not only in China, but also in Tibet and Southeast Asia.
Nowadays, Pu-erh tea is well-known all over the world and is the only one undergoing an extremely long fermentation process. Its color browns over time, eventually becoming scarlet. Some types of Pu-erh are sold in the form of loose tea, but the vast majority of high-quality teas are compressed into various forms such as cubes, bird nests, mushrooms or melons. The most popular shape is without a doubt "Bing Cha" (饼 茶), the tea in the shape of a round disk. There are some theories concerning the shapes of Pu-erh tea, but it is widely believed that such compressed forms are handy and easier to transport. It is true that long time ago Pu-erh tea was transported on the backs of horses, which often had to overcome bumpy, dangerous, mountainous terrain and this trip often lasted even for a month. Therefore, the shape and size of the tea was undoubtedly of great importance.
Why is Pu-erh tea so appreciated all around the world? The answer is simple. It has numerous healing properties, which includes lowering cholesterol, improving digestion, improving memory, strengthening the body, supporting liver function, or alleviating the unpleasant effects of drinking alcohol. No wonder that for hundreds of years it was a mandatory drink of Chinese emperors, permanently included in their menus. They are not just words. A medical experiment took place in a hospital in France. It has been proven that regular consumption of Pu-erh tea reduces blood lipids by 13%. Besides, over 40% of respondents aged 40-50 after regular drinking of the infusion lost unnecessary kilograms. Another test conducted by the Kunming Medical Institute proved that Pu-erh has a much better effect in treatment than clofibrate - a drug for lipedema (an excess of lipids in the blood). That's enough reasons to reach for this tea. Many people think that Pu-erh tea is only ready and the best to consume after many, many years. The oldest ones reach even the age of 50. With age, the smell of tea is dramatically changed. One can say that the older this tea gets the better it becomes. Just like wine. And just like in the case of a good wine, the connoisseurs of Chinese Pu-erh tea are willing to pay for it. Some types achieve an exorbitant sum of one thousand US dollars per kilogram, and tea experts are not discouraged by the fact that valuable and old Pu-erh is very rare and hard to come by.
How to choose a good Pu-erh tea? First of all, it's important how it matured and what the tea was packed into. It should mature in a cool, dark and dry place. Away from all aromas, because it quickly absorbs smells. It is best, if the tea is stored in airy packaging. It cannot be a foil or tin, because they do not let air through. The second important factor when choosing Pu-erh tea is its fragrance. The tea should have a strong, natural, tea aroma. Depending on its age, also wood aromas or even the scent of smoke can be smelled. You should also pay attention to the color of the tea. Very old will have a red color. The newer ones will be more greenish. If it still is not enough, you can make a taste test to make sure which tea is the best.