Pu Erh Tea vs Other Chinese Teas

Following water, tea is the world's second most famous beverage. Tea consumption in the United States has been significantly higher, following a global trend over the past few years. Tea has emerged as an optimal nutritional beverage as researchers have better knowledge of the function antioxidants contribute to losing weight, preventing cancer, and reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Tea is the healthiest choice because it is 100 per cent organic, natural, and low in calories and fat. 


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Several individuals are shocked to hear that almost all teas are brewed out of the same species of leaves, including Pu Erh, white, black, green, yellow, and oolong teas. While the type of the Camellia sinensis plant and the environment and growing conditions all influence the ultimate flavour of the tea, the production process of the leaves is where the primary distinctions in tea variety emerge.

Many substances that are steeped in heated water are referred to as tea. But it is only tea if it is prepared from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which is native to China. Tea is now produced in more than a hundred countries to suit global demand.

With all the choices now available in the market, it is crucial that you must get familiarized with the differences in each type of tea. So, whether you are a tea connoisseur or just someone who enjoys sipping a cup of tea, this article will help you expand your knowledge of teas in general by giving you the difference between Pu Erh and all other common teas available in the market. So, if you are eager to learn more regarding Pu Erh, keep on reading!

Pu Erh Tea

Before comparing Pu Erh to other teas, it is crucial to get to know the beverage first. 

Camellia sinensis plant is used to make Pu Erh tea. The leaves and stems of the plant are harvested to make the different types of teas. Teas made from this plant include white, black, green, and oolong varieties. Pu Erh tea is only produced in China's Yunnan province, and it originally comes from the Pu Erh district in the country where it is grown. Pu Erh tea is processed in two steps once it is harvested. The tea leaves are processed in the first step in the same way green tea is. The Camellia sinensis plant with a large leaf variety is used to make Pu Erh tea through a specific fermentation method. Pu Erh tea leaves usually have a dark brown or black colour. This tea goes through a 6- to 12-month secondary ageing process in which it is kept in a warm, humid atmosphere, enabling beneficial and natural bacterial and fungal microflora to develop. The older Pu Erh tea is smooth and leaves a sweet aftertaste on the tongue. Pu Erh tea that has matured for a lengthy period is said to be more flavorful.

Because of its high content of polyphenols, catechins, and flavonoids, Pu Erh has been treasured in traditional tea communities throughout Asia for generations. The flavour of Pu Erh tea is smooth and mellow. The leaves have a pleasantly natural sweetness, and when brewed, they smell like fallen leaves. In addition, Pu Erh can also have a darker appearance than black teas and a more robust taste and scent. 

Studies have shown that Pu Erh tea contains caffeine, but not in the exact amounts as some other teas. The caffeine content in Pu Erh teas ranges from 60 to 70 mg per 8 oz cup. The caffeine in the tea stimulates the central nervous system, muscles, and heart. Pu Erh tea also includes antioxidants and other compounds that may aid skin, heart, blood vessels, and additional significant organ protection. 

  • VS White Tea

    White tea is the most uncommon of all tea varieties. It was pretty tough to obtain outside of China until recently. It is the bread and butter of Fujian on China's east coast. The name is derived from the practically translucent liquid and the white filaments seen on the plant's buds. White tea comprises the plant's whitish buds, including some leaves in relatively low kinds. Many white tea producers have utilized an identical Pu Erh compressing technique for years to make white tea products. However, unlike Pu Erh tea produced from the large leaf species of Camellia sinensis, white tea leaves are from the small leaf species of Camellia sinensis. They are intrinsically distinct and have a specific nature and course during fermentation. 

    White teas are considered to be tea with the least amount of processing. They have the lowest caffeine content of any tea, averaging 10 to 15 mg per 8 oz cup. Most white teas come from China's Fujian Province.

    The tea has a subtle colour and flavour with a gentle, faintly sweet taste and a smooth milky or earthy flavour. Unlike Pu Erh tea which has a rich, full, smooth flavour, white tea has a lighter flavour because the tea leaves are not rolled and thoroughly processed, which means the epidermis of the leaves is not destroyed, and oxidation is limited if there is any. Drinking white tea has numerous health benefits due to its low processing. Studies have shown that it has antibacterial properties that help to combat bacterial and viral illnesses. Drinking white tea can help manage influenza and cold symptoms. These antibacterial qualities also prevent plaque-forming germs from growing, which improves dental health. White tea components are also commonly utilized in hand and body soaps due to their antibacterial characteristics.

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  • VS Black Tea

    Although most people refer to it as "black tea," the Chinese refer to it as "red tea" because of its distinctive reddish tint. The most famous type of tea beverage in the world is black tea. It comes in a wide variety of flavours, but it is usually stronger and darker than oolong or green teas. Black teas are considered teas that have been entirely oxidized. The beverage produced by black teas ranges from reddish-brown to dark brown. The caffeine content in black teas ranges from 40 to 60 mg per 8 oz cup.

    Unlike the Pu Erh process that involves pilling, fermenting, and then pressing into forms, Black tea is produced by leaving the plant leaves to wither once they have been picked. They are then manually or mechanically rolled and smashed. The oxidation mechanisms are triggered, and the leaves are permitted to turn black. Eventually, the oxidation process is stopped by firing them in ovens.

    The Northern Chinese (Keemun teas from Anhui province and similar teas like Golden Monkey) and Southern Chinese (black teas from Yunnan region) are the two main kinds of Chinese black teas. However, unlike Pu Erh tea, which is grown in Yunnan Province, black tea is grown across China, in Yunnan, Fujian, Sichuan, Guangdong, and others. On the one hand, Pu Erh tea products come as lose tea and compressed tea. The loose Pu Erh tea is brown and broad, compact, and hefty. The loose Pu-erh tea is pressed into compressed Pu Erh tea. The most common shapes are cake or pie, brick or block, and others.

    On the other hand, Keemun tea and broken black tea are the two most common types of black tea. The Keemun tea is mostly in bar form, while some are curly. It appears in gold colour. Broken tea appears as fine granular. After that, it's turned into tea bags.

    Since the Ming Dynasty was created in 1368, Chinese black tea leaves have been sweetened, and they have grown widely in the United States and Europe in recent years. Fruits, floral extracts, and flavour enhancers can be added to final black tea leaves to make them more flavorful.

  • VS Oolong Tea

    Oolong teas are semi-oxidized, falling somewhere between green and black teas in oxidation. This semi oxidative state offers them the depth and intricacy of black tea while maintaining the freshness and purity of green tea. 

    The leaves can oxidize for some time, resulting in a darker colour and a richer, deeper flavour. The amount of time they take to oxidize varies substantially between varieties. After that, the leaves are cooked and rolled into small spears. After being rolled and roasted, they are allowed to dry before being produced into loose-leaf or separate tea bags.

    Caffeine and antioxidant levels are also in the middle of black and green teas, rendering them the healthiest and most appealing. All oolongs come from China or Taiwan, making them a popular and wanted tea among tea enthusiasts.

    Oolong is a rich, flavorful tea. Because the leaves are plucked later than those used in pure green tea, they have a richer flavour. The colour of the beverage is pale yellow, with a flowery, fruity aroma suggestive of pears or peaches and a slight smokiness. Enthusiasts enjoy drinking it anyway without milk, sweetener, or citrus because of the delicate flavour.

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  • VS Green Tea

    Green tea accounts for about ten per cent of all tea consumed worldwide. Pu Erh is hand-picked from Yunnan's wild trees. The leaves on these tea trees are enormous and of large leaf variety. On the other hand, Renowned green teas are widely cultivated in several parts of China and Japan, including Henan, Anhui, Uji, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and others. Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is almost always used to make green tea,  a plant native to China and other Asian nations. 

    Both raw Pu Erh and green tea are processed in the same way. The leaves of both teas then wither after being harvested, and then they are steamed or fried and rolled. The only difference is that most green teas are processed using hot air, but Pu Erh is sun-dried. The sun influences the flavour and ageing characteristics of raw Pu Erh. 

    Green teas from China have about 30 to 35 milligrams of caffeine per 8 oz cup, while green teas from Japan have approximately 25 to 30 mg per 8 oz cup. Green tea's minimal caffeine level can also be attributed to its scarcity of oxidation. Studies show that green tea only undergoes about 1 per cent of oxidation. Its caffeine impact delivers a gentle, reasonably constant high with no sharp peaks or drops. Green tea is thus an ideal calming aid because it functions as a modest stimulant while inducing neither sleeplessness nor anxiousness. 

    Green tea retains most of its inherent dark green colour, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, and chlorophyll due to the lack of oxidative process. As a result, green tea has a more astringent and delicate flavour than black or oolong tea, reminiscent of its fresh leafy taste. Green teas taste typically milder with earthy, herbaceous, or oceanic characteristics. Green teas from China are mellower and lighter, whilst green teas from Japan are more substantial and have a more savoury and more decadent flavour.

  • VS Yellow Tea

    Yellow tea is an uncommon and costly kind of tea. It looks and tastes a lot like green tea, and it is prepared similarly to green tea and Pu Erh tea. However, there is an additional process: the tea leaves are steamed beneath a moist towel after oxidation. This steaming process turns the leaves into a faint yellow colour. 

    Unlike Pu Erh, a staple product of the Yunnan region, Yellow tea comes from China, primarily from the provinces of Sichuan, Hunan, and Zhejiang. There are other places in China where the climate is suitable for cultivating yellow tea leaves, but most of the production comes from these three areas' mountainous regions.

    The caffeine content in Yellow Tea is 7.88 mg per fl oz. For an eight fl oz cup of yellow, there is approximately 63 mg of caffeine. Furthermore, compared to Pu Erh and green tea, the yellow tea leaves have a much lesser vegetal flavour.

Final Thoughts: 

There are several types of teas across the globe. From Pu Erh to white, black, oolong, green, and yellow teas, your choices seem endless. However, today, people are getting more interested in knowing about Pu Erh, which is considered an ancient beverage that has been consumed throughout generations. Taking note of how Pu Erh and all other teas are produced, the origins of each tea and the benefits each provides will surely help you understand the recent increasing global interest in Pu Erh. 

While environmental circumstances and the fermenting method can influence the flavour of Pu Erh tea, it can have floral, woody, musky, and fruity notes. Consuming this tea is a pleasure because of its rich, mellow texture, and the health advantages are an additional advantage. So, make a delicious cup of Pu Erh tea today, experience the rich flavours, and enjoy the nutritional benefits.

References: 

  1. Elegant Serenity. 2019. The Making and Health Benefits of White, Yellow, Oolong, and Pu-erh Teas. Retrieved from: http://elegantserenity.com/processing-health-benefits-white-yellow-oolong-pu-erh-tea/. Retrieved on 14 April 2022. 
  2. Food Republic. 2020. Black, Green, Pu’erh And Oolong: 4 Types Of Tea To Get You Started. Retrieved from: https://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/03/23/black-green-puerh-and-oolong-4-types-of-tea-to-get-you-started/. Retrieved on 14 April 2022. 
  3. Healthline. 2020. Pu-erh Tea: Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects, and More. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/pu-erh-tea-benefits. Retrieved on 14 April 2022. 
  4. Lets Drink Tea. 2021. Oolong Vs Pu-Erh Tea (Which Should You Be Drinking?). Retrieved from: https://www.letsdrinktea.com/oolong-vs-pu-erh/#How_Is_Oolong_Processed. Retrieved on 14 April 2022. 
  5. Stash Tea. 2016. Types of Tea. Retrieved from: https://www.stashtea.com/blogs/education/tea-types. Retrieved on 14 April 2022. 
  6. Valley Green Tea. 2017. White Tea Cake And Pu-Erh White Tea. Retrieved from: https://www.valleygreentea.com.au/blog/chinese-tea/white-tea-cake-and-pu-erh-white-tea.html. Retrieved on 14 April 2022. 
  7. WebMD. 2020. Pu-Erh Tea - Uses, Side Effects, and More. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1169/pu-erh-tea. Retrieved on 14 April 2022. 

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