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Everything you need to know about Pu'Er Tea: Varieties, Benefits, and How to Differentiate Premium Tea

Pu'Er tea is a classic traditional tea in Hong Kong. We will take you on a journey to explore the different types of Pu'Er tea, its benefits, how to choose premium tea, and brewing methods in order to provide the most authentic recommendation for Pu'Er tea in Hong Kong - Chinese Tea Gallery!

What is Pu'Er Tea? What does Pu'Er Tea taste like?

Tea can be divided into six categories based on the degree of fermentation and production methods: Green tea, White tea, Yellow tea, Oolong tea, Black tea, and Pu'Er tea. Pu'Er is a unique category that requires a process called "post-fermentation" to bring out its distinct flavour.  Let's explore the production process of Pu'Er tea and its unique charm!

1. What is Pu'Er Tea?

The most signature Pu'Er tea is made from the leaves of the large-leaf tea plant in Yunnan Province, China. The high content of tea polyphenols in the large-leaf tea plant allows Pu'Er tea to develop a richer and more mellow flavour during the later transformation process.


After the leaves are harvested, they are dried through the sun' natural heat. The leaves are dried under the sun and then undergo post-fermentation to produce loose tea or compressed tea. The resulting tea has a strong aroma and a dark brown colour.

2. The Secret to Unique Aged Flavor: Decoding the Fermentation of Pu'Er Tea

First-time drinkers of Pu'Er tea are often impressed by its unique robust, smooth, and mellow taste. It has a complex and intense aged flavour. This raises the question: How does tea develop such a distinctive flavour?


The flavour of Pu'Er tea depends on the fermentation process over time. During the drying stage, Pu'Er tea has a low level of fermentation, resulting in a brighter colour of tea with a bitter taste. After undergoing oxidation and microbial action, Pu'Er tea gradually matures. The catechins in the tea leaves oxidize into substances such as theaflavins and thearubigins, reducing the bitterness and enhancing the robust and mellow taste. The tea slowly turns into darker colour.


Due to the nature of Pu'Er tea transforming with time, there are different types of Pu'Er tea available on the market, including Raw Pu'Er tea, and Ripe Pu'Er tea. Raw Pu'Er tea is known for its vibrant and fresh flavour, while Ripe Pu'Er tea has undergone accelerated fermentation to achieve a mature and earthy, which is the traditional Hong Kong Style of Pu'Er.

Understanding the Types of Raw and Ripe Pu'Er Tea

Pu'Er tea is known for its complexity and variety. We will explore the differences between Raw and Ripe Pu'Er tea and delve into the various shapes of Pu'Er tea.

1. Understanding the Difference between Raw and Ripe Pu'Er Tea

Pu'Er tea can be classified into two types: Raw and Ripe. The key factor that distinguishes them is the fermentation process, which refers to storing “Raw Pu’Er” into our own humid Hong Kong warehouses for several years of natural fermentation to transform "Raw" to "Ripe" Pu'Er. 


1. Raw Pu'Er Tea:
Raw Pu'Er tea is made by drying the tea leaves and then compressing them. The colour of Raw Pu'Er tea usually greenish.

Due to the low level of fermentation, Raw Pu'Er tea retains more tea polyphenols and catechins. As a result, the tea soup has a light colour and a fresh taste, but it may also have a stronger bitterness.

2. Ripe Pu'Er Tea:
Ripe Pu'er tea undergoes the additional step of fermentation process, which accelerates the natural fermentation of the tea leaves. This process converts tea polyphenols into theaflavins and thearubigins. As a result, the colour of Ripe Pu'Er tea is a reddish-brown colour. Overall, Ripe Pu'Er tea has a rich and complex flavour profile, often described as fruity or earthy notes.


The importance of the ageing process in our Hong Kong storage is significant, because the storage of warehouses further enhances the unique aroma of Pu'Er tea.

2. Decoding the Shapes of Pu'er Tea: Loose Leaf, Tea Brick, and Tea Cake

The shape of Pu'Er tea is distinct from other types of tea, and it is closely related to the logistic issues used in the past.


In the early days, transportation was limited, and goods were mainly transported by horses or mules. To maximize efficiency, Pu'Er tea was compressed into tight forms, allowing for more tea leaves to be transported. As a result, Pu'Er tea comes in two main shapes: loose leaf and compressed forms. Let's explore the characteristics of these two shapes.


1. Loose Leaf: 
Loose leaf Pu'Er tea is mostly ripe Pu'Er tea. The tea leaves retain their original shape, allowing for a detailed observation of their condition. It can be easily brewed without the need for specific tools, making it convenient for both brewing and precise portion control.


2. Compressed Tea:
Compressed Pu'Er tea are created by steaming and pressing the tea leaves into various shapes, such as cakes, tuocha (bowl-shaped with a hollow center), and bricks. This compression significantly reduces the volume of the tea leaves, making it easier to carry and trade.

Additionally, the compression process helps to preserve the tea aroma by preventing the absorption of moisture and odors. This allows Pu'Er tea to be stored for extended periods without losing its quality. However, accessing the tea from compressed forms requires specialized tools such as tea needles or tea knives. Moreover, Pu'Er tea bricks have a higher density compared to tea cakes, making it slightly more challenging to handle and estimate the portion size.

How to Choose the Best Pu'Er Tea?

Pu'Er tea prices can vary greatly, with some being described as "ridiculously expensive" and others being so cheap that you question their quality. If you are a beginner in buying Pu'Er tea, you can follow these 3 principles: shape of the tea leaf, aroma, and colour.

3 Key Principles for Selecting Pu'Er Tea

Tea Leaf Appearance: Whether it's a tea cake, tea brick, or loose tea, the appearance of the tea leaves is crucial. Good Pu'Er tea leaves should have intact and complete strips, with minimal broken or fine leaves. If you are purchasing Pu'Er tea cakes, you can observe the shape and surface of the cake. The surface should be smooth and even, and the thickness of the cake should be consistent.


Aroma: Raw Pu'Er tea has a fresh fragrance, while ripe Pu'Er tea has its unique aged aroma. However, there should never be any "moldy" smell associated with Pu'Er tea. If you detect a moldy odor, it may indicate issues with storage or fermentation. It is advisable not to purchase or consume such tea.


Tea Colour: Raw Pu'Er tea has a yellow-greenish colour, while ripe Pu'Er tea tends to be darker. However, overall, the tea soup should be clear and transparent. If the tea soup appears dark or black, it should be a cause for concern.


In addition to these 3 principles, beginners should also avoid falling into the trap of seeking cheap deals, as it may lead to purchasing low-quality tea. It is recommended to choose reputable tea merchants to ensure the origin and storage of the Pu'Er tea are guaranteed.

The Benefits of Pu'Er Tea: Drink Your Way to a Healthy Lifestyle

Pu'Er tea, known for its rich flavour and unique fermentation process, has gained popularity worldwide. But did you know that this tea also offers numerous health benefits? Packed with tea polyphenols, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, Pu'Er tea can help regulate physiological functions and promote overall well-being.

Pu’Er Benefit 1: Regulates Body Functions

Theabrownins in Pu’Er tea can regulate your gut bacteria and change its makeup. Research shows theabrownins help improve blood lipid and liver lipid levels. This explains claims that Pu’Er tea lowers blood lipids, cholesterol, etc.

Pu’Er Benefit 2: Reduces Fat Absorption

Pu’Er contains hydrolyzable tannins that inhibit an enzyme that absorbs fat. This allows fat to pass through your digestive system without being absorbed, preventing fat buildup for better health.

Pu’Er Benefit 3: Antioxidant Properties

Raw Pu’Er is high in antioxidants like polyphenols and theabrownins. The antioxidant effects of Pu’Er can positively impact your body.

Pu’Er Benefit 4: Promotes Healthy Gut Microbiome

Studies show the polyphenols and caffeine in fermented Pu’Er tea can restore gut bacteria altered by a high-fat diet. This helps promote good gut bacteria for better digestion.

Pu’Er Benefit 5: Supports Liver Health

According to the study, Theabrownins regulate gut bacteria and bile acid metabolism, promoting regular bowel movements and maintaining liver function.

Pu’Er Benefit 6: Regulates Blood Vessel Growth

According to the US study, Fermented Pu’Er more effectively inhibits abnormal blood vessel growth compared to unfermented Pu’Er and green tea, supporting healthy blood vessel development.

What are the precautions of Pu'Er tea? Must-read before drinking Pu'Er tea!

Even though there are many benefits to drinking Pu'Er tea, there are still some minor things to be aware of when consuming it:

1. Who should be cautious when drinking Pu'Er tea?

Many people may wonder, "Can pregnant women drink Pu'Er tea?" or "Will drinking Pu'Er tea affect breastfeeding?" In the case of raw Pu'Er tea, it contains higher levels of caffeine and theophylline, so it is recommended that pregnant women drink less Pu'Er tea to avoid potential harm from these stimulating substances to both the body and the baby. If you really want to drink it, you can choose Ripe Pu'Er tea instead. Ripe Pu'Er tea has a higher degree of fermentation, making it relatively mild in taste. As long as it is consumed in moderation, it will not pose any harm to the body. Even during pregnancy, you can enjoy Pu'Er tea with peace of mind!


In addition, due to the varying degrees of fermentation in Pu'Er tea, the caffeine content also differs. For those who are sensitive to caffeine, special attention should be paid. It is recommended to adjust the amount of consumption and the type of Pu'Er tea according to individual constitution. If you are worried about not being able to sleep after drinking Pu'Er tea, it is advisable to drink Ripe Pu'Er tea. Generally speaking, as long as Pu'Er tea is consumed in moderation, there should not be any major issues. However, if you are currently taking medication or have any specific medical conditions, it is still advisable to consult a healthcare professional before drinking tea to ensure peace of mind.

2. Reminder when drinking Pu'Er Tea

Besides paying attention to your own physical condition, it's also important to be aware of the characteristics of raw and Ripe Pu'Er tea! Raw Pu'Er tea, although vibrant and refreshing, contains a high amount of tea polyphenols, catechins, and other substances that can be quite stimulating to the stomach. Drinking Pu'Er tea on an empty stomach may potentially harm the gastric mucosa and lead to discomfort.


On the other hand, Ripe Pu'Er tea is milder in nature, as some of the stimulating substances have already oxidized. However, it's still crucial to pay attention to the concentration of the tea. Drinking strong Pu'Er tea can burden the stomach and digestive system. If you're a beginner in the world of Pu'Er tea, it's recommended to start with our Oolong tea, and Green tea entry-level tea, to fully appreciate the flavours of Pu'Er tea.

How to Brew Pu'Er Tea?

Pu'Er tea requires a certain level of breathability to develop its unique aroma and flavour. However, this also means that the taste of Pu'Er tea can easily be affected by the environment, and the leaves can easily accumulate dust or impurities. Here is a detailed guide on how to brew Pu'Er tea, following these steps will allow you to experience the purest and most delightful taste of Pu'Er tea!

3 Steps Pu'Er Brewing Method

Step 1: Tea Awakening
Place the Pu'Er tea leaves in a clean and well-ventilated area to allow them to reach the optimal state for brewing. If you are using Pu'Er tea cakes or bricks, break them into suitable sizes.


Step 2: Tea Rinsing
Since Pu'Er tea leaves are often stored for a long time, it is recommended to rinse them before brewing. Pour hot water over the tea leaves for about 3 seconds to wash away any impurities. After discarding the water, you can proceed with the brewing process.


Step 3: Brewing the Tea
There are two methods for brewing Pu'Er tea: steeping and boiling. The recommended ratio of tea leaves to water is 5 grams (approximately 3 teaspoons) of tea leaves to 300 milliliters of water.


Steeping: The water temperature for steeping Pu'Er tea should be around 95 degrees Celsius. Steep the tea for 1 to 2 minutes, and it can be steeped for 3 to 4 times. Adjust the steeping time according to your personal taste preference.

Boiling: If you are using compressed Pu'Er tea, you can consider boiling it to extract the flavors more thoroughly. Boil the tea for approximately 2 minutes. Be cautious not to overcook it, as it may result in a more bitter taste. Adjust the boiling time according to your personal preference.

Get your Local Pu'Er Tea! We will take you on a Pu'Er Journey

Ripe Pu'Er offers a traditional and robust taste that is favoured by many. Not only does Pu'Er tea aid in digestion and help with post-meal bloating, it pairs perfectly with a variety of dim sum, snacks and desserts. In Hong Kong, Pu'Er tea holds a special place in the local tea culture for more than 60 years of history.

Local Pu'Er Tea: Chenpi Pu'Er, & Hong Kong Pu'Er

For over 60 years, Fookwah Tea Company has been a beacon of tea excellence in the vibrant city of Hong Kong. We have an intimate understanding of the taste buds and preferences of Hong Kongers. That's why we have a selection of premium Ripe Pu'Er teas that embody the authentic flavours of Hong Kong. These teas are carefully stored and fermented in our tea warehouse, allowing time to work its magic and bring forth the most mature and exquisite taste in Pu'Er tea.


But wait, there's more! Step into the enchanting world of Chinese Tea Gallery, where we reimagine the art of Pu'Er tea. No need to venture to high-end tea houses or hotels; you can now enjoy the most authentic Hong Kong-style Pu'Er tea in the comfort of your own home. Brace yourself for an exciting journey as we present to you our top tea blends, hand-picked just for you:

Chenpi Pu'Er

Pu'Er tea from Yunnan is transported to our own warehouse & blended with dried citrus peel in Hong Kong for long-period of fermentation and undergoes multiple rounds of flavour blending.


The flavour of Chenpi Pu'Er retains the traditional taste of ripe Pu'Er tea, a nostalgic taste that locals enjoy since childhood.


Additionally, this tea has numerous health benefits, including promoting digestive health, and reducing cholesterol levels.


Its flavour is rich and distinct, and its health benefits make it a popular choice among tea enthusiasts.

Hong Kong Pu'Er

Experience the history of 1980s Hong Kong dim sum culture with our meticulously blended tea beverage.


Crafted with care, it replicates the traditional flavour of Pu'Er tea served in those iconic restaurants.


Our blend combines premium Pu'Er tea sourced from various regions, including the renowned Yunnan, China. To enhance the depth of flavour, we transport additional Pu'Er tea to our Hong Kong warehouse, where it undergoes a meticulous fermentation process.


The result? A rich and unique aged flavour that will captivate your tea-drinking experience.

2. Exquisite Pu'Er Tea Gift Set: Blend your Pu'Er Tea-riffic Gift!

In addition to the two classic teas mentioned above, if you're seeking a Pu'Er tea experience that is rich in layers and diverse in flavours, then Chinese Tea Gallery's "Blend your Pu'Er Tea-riffic Gift" is the perfect choice for you!


This unique gift allows you to enjoy the joy of tea blending right in the comfort of your own home. Through the process of customization, you can explore and discover your favourite flavours. Not only is it a delightful experience to indulge in at home, but this special custom-blend Pu'Er tea gift is also an excellent choice for gifting. It not only represents a high-quality tea gift, but also brings the joy of hands-on tea blending to the recipient.

Blend your Pu'Er Tea-riffic Gift

Featuring four distinct types of tea. Each tea can be enjoyed on its own or mixed and matched for a delightful flavour experience.


Feel free to create a cup of aromatic Rose Pu'Er Tea, perfect for brightening up your day.


Our tea set is designed to provide tea-lovers with a fun and dynamic tea-blending adventure. 


If the recipient of this gift has a keen interest in the art of tea blending, they will be thrilled to embark on this flavourful journey.

Pu'Er Tea - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pu'Er Tea?

What are the different types of Pu'Er tea?

How to choose the perfect Pu'Er tea?

What are the health benefits of Pu'Er tea?

Who should be cautious when drinking Pu'Er tea?

How to brew Pu'Er tea?