- Tea Knowledge
While unmistakably a shupu, this cake from 2006 displays a delightful lightness in contrast to the normally somber flavours associated with the category.
Mellow and warm, notes of horseradish, butter, and whole-grain bread play along the tongue; an earthy base note evokes a summery soup with root vegetables, or perhaps a gratin dauphinois. The experienced Pu'er drinker will appreciate, however, that this is one Shu that suggests you leave the root cellar and head to the beach.
Pu’er Tea is the empress among dark teas due to its exquisite taste and health properties. It is a tea produced only in the Yunnan province of China. The leaves undergo a process of microbial fermentation, which continues also during storage, steadily changing the taste and appearance of the tea. For this reason dark tea is also called post-fermented tea.
Pu’er tea is available in two finishes.
The “Raw” finish, called Sheng Cha, is the oldest and most traditional. It has green leaves at the beginning, which with slowly aging and process of gradual fermentation get darker to acquire unique richness of taste. Sheng Cha can be very valuable after some decades of ageing, with some vintages being extremely sought after. However, the raw material is of outmost importance for the quality of the brew. Ordinary Sheng Cha will never turn into a premium Pu'er upon ageing.
In the seventies, when the demand for the aged pu’er tea exceeded supply, a new manufacturing process, called Wo Dui, was developed by The Menghai Tea Factory to speed up ageing. The natural fermentation processes slowly transforming the appearance and taste of Sheng Cha are speed up in dedicated fermentation chamber to achieve the typical Pu'er taste within few months after the harvest. The final product, Shou Cha, has an intense flavour and dark colour already at the beginning, without the need to wait decades for aging to take place. Shou Cha means “cooked” and “ripe” tea.
Although the accelerated processing cannot be compared to the natural modifications occurring in Sheng Cha, Shou Cha shall not be considered a second-choice Pu'er; as the prices on the market confirm. Shou Cha is suitable for ageing. The taste continues to change overtime resulting in interesting combinations of natural and induced taste nuances.
That said, we invite you to compare Sheng and Shou Pu'er and let us know which one do you prefer.