Tea 101: What is pu’erh tea?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Used to boost metabolism and aid digestion for over 1,700 years, pu’erh tea (pronounced “poor”) is a rarity that tea collectors go crazy for. What makes it so unique? Pu’erh is an aged tea that’s naturally fermented. And like a fine wine, it only gets better with age. Traditional Chinese pu’erhs are made differently than any other Camellia sinensis tea: the leaves are aged in mountain caves or cellars for weeks, months, years or even decades before they’re ready to brew. Thanks to these unique aging processes, pu’erh teas like Sheng pu’erh are smooth, sweet and mellow, with a distinctive earthy flavour – perfect for pairing with spicy Chinese foods, fig tart or steak with mushroom gravy.

We carry a range of crowdpleasing pu’erh teas – from innovative blends that hold up great to milk like rich Coffee Pu’erh to exciting premium teas like nutty Sheng Pu’erh. Ready to explore? Read on to find your perfect blend.

Discover the benefits of pu’erh tea

Looking for the perfect after-dinner tea? Reach for a benefit-packed cup of pu’erh. Pu’erh tea has been used for thousands of years in China to aid digestion and boost metabolism. It’s also high in polyphenols – antioxidant-rich, metabolism-boosting compounds naturally found in life’s most delicious treats like wine, chocolate, fruit and, of course, tea. If your pants are feeling a little snug, whip up a cup after a heavy meal and let its warming properties soothe your stomach. Ah… isn’t that better?

How much caffeine is in pu’erh tea?

Contrary to popular belief, pu’erh tea is naturally high caffeine, making it one of our fave go-tos when we need to switch out that post-meal slump for an energy boost. Our pu’erhs range from 14-125 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup, which is less than your average cup of coffee (about 140 mg per cup). It also makes a great alternative to your morning cup of joe. If you’re looking for the perfect Americano or double shot espresso doppelganger, then a caffeinated cup of energizing pu’erh tea is the ideal candidate to replace your go-to dark roast. 

What does pu’erh taste like?

Sipping on a pu’erh tea is like indulging in a fine wine, whisky or an aged cheddar – it’s got a flavour that’s deep, complex and mature. Known for its signature earthiness, pu’erh can range from fresh, wet soil and rich cacao to sweet dried fruit and cooling camphor. It’s got a boldness we love and a smooth mouthfeel that makes every sip go down like liquid silk. When it comes to this tea category, there are two main types:

Shou pu’erh: Also called “cooked” or “ripe” pu’erh, this long-leaf tea is known for its deep rich flavour. Shou pu’erhs undergo rapid fermentation where the leaves are piled up to create heat, thus essentially “cooking” the pu’erh. The leaves are then flipped and the process repeated until the desired aroma, flavour and colour are achieved. Only then are they pressed into tea cakes or dried as loose leaf tea.

Sheng pu’erh: Also called “raw” or “living” tea, this type of pu’erh is much more mellow and sweeter in flavour since it undergoes a longer fermentation process where the leaves are stored for months – kind of like a fine wine. The best part? It only gets better with age since the slow fermentation process allows for the leaves to naturally develop an array of amazing flavours over time.

Find the pu’erh tea that’s right for you

TRADITIONAL

Organic Silken Pu’erh

Pu’erh has been used in China for centuries to aid digestion. And with notes of rich cocoa and dried fruit, this bold and earthy tea goes down like liquid silk.

Sheng Pu’erh

Nutty and earthy with a cooling camphor finish, this raw pu’erh is long-fermented for a sweet and mellow flavour that only gets better with age.

SWEET

S’mores Chai

Gooey toasted marshmallows, graham crackers, dark chocolate – it’s no wonder we live for s’mores. This tempting pu’erh adds an extra dash of cinnamon to the campfire classic.

Coffee pu’erh

Even coffee addicts go crazy for this rich and decadent pu’erh laced with real coffee beans. It’s a sweet and decadent pick-me-up.

Hot Chocolate

We take hot chocolate pretty seriously around here. It’s gotta be rich, decadent and mega-creamy. And with cocoa nibs and chocolate chips, this luscious blend fits the bill.

English Toffee

Need a toffee break? This rich and decadent, all-natural blend of pu’erh, cocoa and caramel is the perfect sweet treat. The best part? At next to no calories, it’s virtually guilt-free.

FRUITY

Juicy Orange

This fresh and fruity blend of pu’erh, black tea, hibiscus and oranges is deliciously refreshing and undeniably good for you.

Chocolate Orange

This delicious pu’erh blend has it all: big chocolate curls to satisfy your dessert craving and zesty orange peel for a touch of fruitiness and spice. It’s the kind of thing you could get used to.

How to make pu’erh tea perfectly

Brewing an exceptional cup of pu’erh is easier than you think. It all comes down to two super simple steeping parameters: water temperature and steeping time. Our recommendation? Steep your pu’erh in near-boiling (95°C/200°F) water for 4-5 minutes before serving. Pu’erh tea leaves are robust and need high heat in order for them to release all of their incredible flavours. Follow these steps and you’ll get a cup that’s rich, smooth and pleasantly earthy every single time.

Steep pu’erh tea gong fu style

Fun fact: you can steep pu’erh teas gong fu style just like you would an oolong tea! Gong Fu Cha is the ancient practice of making multiple infusions of the same tea. That means every time you re-steep this bold dark tea using the gong fu method, the leaves will expand releasing new flavours.

Start off with super short infusion times (between 20 seconds and 1 minute), then infuse a little longer with every successive steeping (1-3 minutes). With each new infusion, new notes and flavours will begin to shine through. You can repeat this process until you reach the desired taste. Try it for yourself and let us know what you think!

Ready to get a taste? Shop all of our pu’erh teas here.

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