A couple of weeks ago, I brewed a cup of green (raw) Pu-ehr tea and I talked about how there are 2 types of Pu-ehr. Today I am enjoying a cup of black (cooked ) Pu-ehr tea called Ancient Pu-ehr Mini Tuo Cha. This tea is from the same area in Yunnan province as the green Pu-ehr.
Another name for this black Pu-ehr tea is dark green “pile fermented” tea. It is created with a special pile fermentation process, a fairly new method in existence since the 1970s. Think compost piles. The tea leaves are heaped into measured piles in a well ventilated, climate controlled room and water is added to each pile to moisten it. The tea master will turn each pile periodically to evenly disperse heat, moisture and bacteria for proper fermentation. After approximately 90 day, the leaves are steamed and compressed into little cakes and then dried.
Look how black both the tea leaves and the liquor are. Even a China black like Keemun or Yunnan or an Assam tea are not this dark. It looks like black coffee. However, the aroma and taste are very different form coffee! The aroma is sweet and earthy with a hint of woodiness to it. The flavor is also sweet, like molasses, and has a very full mouth feel. I drink it straight but it would probably stand up very well to milk or cream. I don’t recommend sweetener though as it has its own sweetness to enjoy.
One of the most interesting things about Pu-ehr tea is that it gets better with age, like a fine wine does. There are people who collect aged Pu-ehr cakes and some cakes are up to 150 years old! It is also reputed to have medicinal benefits, especially for the digestive system, and has been used as such in China for hundreds of years.
I enjoy tea because of its taste but it’s nice to know that there are health benefits, too!