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Pu-erh Tea – China’s Ancient Tea

The Chinese tea history of Pu-erh tea is fascinating. Pu-erh tea is one of
the oldest type of tea in China with a rich history of over 1700 years that
can be traced back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD). During it’s height
of popularity Pu-erh tea was freely traded and even used as money for the bartering
of goods. Premium Pu-erh tea was offered as a tribute tea to the Emperor of
China and to this day Pu-erh tea remains a highly valuable commodity. Pu-erh
tea is revered in China as a traditional medicinal tea with many health benefits.
It is regarded by tea connoisseurs as the King of Tea for it’s unique flavor
and aroma.

Pu-erh tea also known as “puer” or “po lei” in Cantonese
gets it’s name from the city Pu-erh in south western China, where the trade
for Pu-erh tea was conducted. Not far from Pu-erh city in the areas of Xishuangbanna
and Simao, south of Yunnan Province the cultivation and processing of Pu-erh
tea was carried out to this day. With elevations of up to 2000 metres, it is
high up in these mountains where the air is cool and crisp, amidst scenes of
unspoiled beauty and fertile lands that the tea plantations for this unique
tea can be found. The secrets for processing Pu-erh tea are carefully guarded
and in the past trespassers mistaken as spys have been known to be killed on
private tea plantations. To this day the tea secrets for Pu-erh production remains
ruthlessly guarded and it is only in China where genuine Pu-erh tea can be produced.

Throughout chinese tea history Pu-erh tea is well known for it’s unique ability
to undergo a post fermentation process designed for further aging. Like classic
wines this aging process allows these fine teas to develop added complexity
to its character while shedding it’s harsh youthful elements. The active microbes
living within the tea has lead Pu-erh tea to be known as the “Living Tea”.
This continuous evolution is very exciting for collectors of Pu-erh tea who
likes to follow closely the transformation of their fine teas after each passing
year. Many believe that it is from these active microbes that Pu-erh tea gets
it’s many health benefits and reknown as a traditional medicinal tea with restorative
powers.

A well loved and insightful tale about Pu-erh tea tells of a grandfather who
makes fine teas for his grandson to delight in. Pu-erh teas are stored and left to
mature for decades like classic wines. These premium teas can fetch astronomical
prices at auctions and are worth their weight in gold, often times more.

Pu-erh tea has a wide spectrum of taste and aroma that is very compelling and
at times uncompromising. Ranging from lightly floral, honey, heather and fruits
to harsh peat, leather, organics, grass, tobacco, wood and deep earth the taste
and aromas of these fine teas are exceptionally varied. The color of young Pu-erh
tea can start from a golden yellow of summer hay before developing to a deep
reddish brown reminiscent of the sunset after 30 years of aging. Black Pu-erh
has an imposing aroma of heavy earth that is comparable to the sweet fragrance
of mineral deposits emerging from deep within the forest floor after a heavy
downpour. Excellent Pu-erh tea has brilliant clarity and clean flavors that is warming
to both the body and soul.

*For full illustrations accompanying this article see puerhcha.com/Chinese_Tea_History/Tea_History.htm puerhcha.com/Chinese_Tea_History/Tea_History.htm

*This article was made available by Puerh Cha

Varat Phong is the founder of Puerh Cha – an exceptionally informative website that offers both knowledge and an opportunity to experience premium Pu-erh teas. Varat’s passion and like for Pu-erh tea frequently takes him to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in his continuous search for rare and unique Pu-erh teas that can offer the ultimate experience. For more information, articles and illustrations on Pu-erh tea please visit the Puerh Cha website at puerhcha.com puerhcha.com

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