Puerh is the name of a town in Yunnan Province, China, and the tea produced in this area took on the same name. In order to preserve the tea and enable it to be traded along the Silk Road, a method was developed which led to the steaming of puerh tea and then it being compressed into various shapes.
The best puerh teas are made from ancient bushes, ( some over 1,000 years old), and like a good wine if stored properly these teas actually improve with age – some are stored for upto 100 years. High quality, very old puerh is of great value. Indeed, we were first introduced to this tea by a Chinese friend who told fascinating stories from his childhood experiences of wealthy Chinese families fleeing Communist Canton with nothing other than the valued possessions they could carry of which their prized vintage puerh tea was one.
The tea has an unusual, almost musty smell but do not be put off by this as the taste is very pleasant with a sweet mellow flavour! Puerh tea is prepared like black tea, although it is actually a type of green tea – it will not become bitter and happily brew for lengthy periods and whilst becoming very black and cloudy the flavour remains mild.
In Southern China puerh is the preferred tea with meals.
Repeat infusions can be happily made.