All About Pu Erh Tea: Young and Aged Pu Erh Tea

Pu Erh tea is a fermented tea from the Yunnan province of China that is slowly becoming famous worldwide. This tea's vibrant, subtle, and earthy taste and aroma resulted from the fermentation process. This classic Chinese tea has been grown for thousands of years, and both tea connoisseurs and newbies today undoubtedly enjoy Pu Erh tea. 


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For many new tea drinkers, ripe Pu Erh tea, sometimes referred to as Shou Pu Erh, a young Pu Erh that has been accelerated in age through a process known as wet-piling, is the preferred aged tea. However, people who have been drinking Pu Erh for years might not be aware that it comes in two varieties: (1) young Pu Erh and (2) Raw or aged Pu Erh tea. 

Therefore, knowing the distinctions between these two fundamental varieties of Pu Erh tea might help you prepare for your tea-buying experience.

Aged Pu Erh Tea

  • Processing

    Large Camellia sinensis stems and leaves are used to make Pu Erh tea. Typically, two phases are involved in manufacturing raw Pu Erh tea. All leaves must first be generally processed into Mao cha to prevent the oxidative enzymes from activating. Mao cha that has been harvested, immediately roasted, sun-dried, and steamed into disk-shaped objects known as cakes is the base for aged Pu Erh. The cakes are then matured to change the tea's flavor properly. A mixture of oxidation and fermentation called aging necessitates appropriate storage.

    Aged raw Pu Erh does not go through the wet piling method. Therefore, it matures dramatically over time, going from being gentle, deep, earthy, and complex when young to be smooth, dark, earthy, and astringent as it ages.
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  • Aging Time
    In general, the flavor of aged Pu Erh tea gets fuller as the years go by. As a result, old Pu Erh tea is typically kept for a long time. A fuller and deeper flavor can be obtained by maturing aged raw Pu Erh tea for roughly 60 to 70 years.

  • Flavor, Aroma, Texture
    The aged Pu Erh tea tint is often a vivid yellow or orange. A larger spectrum of flavors is present in aged Pu Erh tea. Particularly the earlier aged Pu Erh tea can have bittersweet, floral, and green notes. The more aged Pu Erh's flavor and scent dramatically alter due to natural fermentation that takes place after storage. Most old and aged Pu Erh has already lost its bitterness and become pleasant. Because it did not go through the wet stacking process, aged Pu Erh typically has a fresh chestnut scent. Overall, the Pu Erh of this generation has a new, light flavor with a distinct sweetness.

  • Costs
    Generally speaking, the cost of a certain Pu Erh increases with the time it takes to make it. As a result, aged Pu Erh tea is considerably more expensive than young Pu Erh tea since it must be stored for a long time. The regulated climatic conditions needed to maintain aged Pu Erh also increase its cost. However, even with its costlier price, old Pu Erh tea is still the most unique and pursued variety of Pu Erh tea among tea connoisseurs and drinkers.

Young Pu Erh Tea

  • Processing
    Young or ripe Pu-Erh tea is made in the same manner as aged Pu-Erh in the initial stages of production. Collecting Camellia sinensis stems and leaves is the first step in the procedure. Following that, Mao cha is forced to halt, and the young Pu Erh subsequently goes through a fermenting process called wet piling. Uncompressed Pu Erh tea leaves are stacked roughly a meter high in this procedure. These tea leaves are heaped, dampened with warm water, and wrapped with a broad linen cloth to reduce water evaporation. During this step, a comfortable and humid environment is created for fermentation. To further speed up the fermentation process, Aspergillus sp., a significant catalyst for fermentation in Camellia sinensis leaves, is added to the stacked tea leaves. The tea is then unpiled and allowed to air out once the proper degree of fermentation has been achieved. After that, these tea leaves are compacted into cakes, blocks, and various other forms, ready to be sold to the market.

    (Source: Unsplash.com)

  • Aging Time
    Most tea producers ferment Pu Erh tea leaves for ten years or so. Young Pu Erh tea is only considered for Pu Erh with an aging potential of between 5 and 15 years. Young Pu Erh tea's flavor has already peaked by the time this point is reached. The flavor development has already stopped progressing at this point. However, most people agree that young Pu Erh shouldn't be aged for longer than ten years. As a result, most tea producers are currently marketing young Pu Erh at this age.

  • Flavor, Aroma, Texture

    Young Pu Erh tea typically has a dark red color because of the rapid fermentation process. Additionally, as tea ages, its catechin content rises, giving young Pu Erh a more distinct, singular, and delicate flavor. The consensus is that young Pu Erh smells richly green. Young Pu Erh has a rich, full-flavored scent and a smooth, mellow texture, making it perfect for regular consumption. Tea drinkers are drawn to young Pu Erh because of these qualities, especially those who have only recently discovered Pu Erh tea.

  • Costs
    Young Pu Erh is typically the less expensive alternative, yet the variety of Pu Erh may not be the only factor influencing the cost. Although it requires less time to make young Pu Erh, it is wise to keep in mind that when it comes to Pu Erh pricing, the same terroir, maturity of the tea tree, vintage, and handling and storage count more.

Summary

Young Pu Erh tea has a brighter, more aromatic flavor profile, while aged Pu Erh tea has a deeper flavor and a more rounded texture. Depending on one's history and preferred tastes, one may choose to purchase young or aged Pu Erh tea leaves. 

Due to the additional costs associated with preserving and storing the teas, aged Pu Erh tea leaves are typically more expensive than young Pu Erh. Moreover, it is less accessible. But there are dangers associated with purchasing aged Pu Erh. Not all aged Pu Erh is created with high-quality leaves or aged correctly. Some teas are even faked that age-deceive consumer by accelerating unwholesome modifications in the tea leaves. Hence, taste Pu Erh of various ages before spending money on aged Pu Erh to get a sense of how Pu Erh tea evolves through time. Before making a purchase, always taste the cake and buy from a reputable vendor. Despite the warnings, purchasing aged Pu Erh allows one to enjoy premium aged tea without waiting a long time.

Ultimately, one's spending limit, taste preferences, and buying habits will determine whether one chooses a young or aged Pu Erh tea. Tea's age is merely one consideration for determining its worth. Other factors, whether young or old, include storage conditions, processing regulations, and leaf quality. Discover the many flavors that Pu Erh tea has to offer to get the most fun out of it. You will undoubtedly be surprised and delighted at every turn.

References: 

  1. Artful Tea. 2021. What Does Pu-erh Tea Taste Like?. Retrieved from: https://www.artfultea.com/tea-wisdom-1/what-does-pu-erh-tea-taste-like. Retrieved on 24 June 2022.
  2. Path of Cha. 2018. How Aging Affects Raw And Ripe Pu-erh. Retrieved from: https://pathofcha.com/blogs/all-about-tea/how-aging-affects-raw-and-ripe-pu-erhs. Retrieved on 24 June 2022.
  3. Red Blossom Tea Company. 2020. Sheng vs. Shou: Types of Pu-erh Tea. Retrieved from: https://redblossomtea.com/blogs/red-blossom-blog/sheng-vs-shou-types-of-pu-erh-tea. Retrieved on 24 June 2022. 
  4. Sencha Tea Bar. 2021. Uncover Aged Flavor With the Best Pu-erh Tea. Retrieved from: https://senchateabar.com/blogs/blog/best-pu-erh-tea. Retrieved on 24 June 2022.
  5. Serious Eats. 2019. Why Tea Addicts Go Crazy for Pu-Erh. Retrieved from: https://www.seriouseats.com/what-is-puerh-tea-where-to-buy. Retrieved on 24 June 2022. 
  6. Sips By. 2021. All About Pu-erh Tea. Retrieved from: https://www.sipsby.com/blogs/tealover-101/all-about-pu-erh-tea. Retrieved on 24 June 2022.
  7. Valley Green Tea. 2020. Pu-Erh Tea, Aged Or Young? Is There A Right Age For Its Consumption?. Retrieved from: https://www.valleygreentea.com.au/pu-erh-tea/aged-pu-erh-tea.html. Retrieved on 24 June 2022. 

 


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