Almost everywhere you look here in Beijing––homes, businesses, tea shops––people have some form of pu’er tea pressed and framed (or formed in some way), and on display. In one classically beautiful chinese tea house, we found a room screen made up of panels of pu’er.

Throughout China, many consider pu’er tea to be the most special (and therefore the most expensive) of all teas. The older the pu’er, the more it costs. Some 30-year-old bricks are sold for 60,000 yuan (pronouned yeuwun – $7500). Some are priceless. In one of the most well known tea shops in Beijing, they displayed huge, stacked rings of pu’er that were said to be from the Qing Dynasty. It’s often difficult to determine the truth of such claims. This is why we have always emphasized the importance of buying tea from someone you trust.

So what is pu’er tea, you may ask? Pu’er is considered a living tea. It is a black tea that has gone through numerous stages of oxidation but is never allowed to fully dry. Instead, it continues to oxidize and change over the years. That is why, like a fine wine, the older the pu’er the more valuable it is. Its taste is often very earthy. While this is greatly appreciated in China, it may take some getting used to for Americans. Personally, I love pu’er tea’s wonderfully rich range of flavor: from an extremely strong, musty aroma to sweet in taste and very fragrant.

Pu’er is said to be very good for your health, especially for your digestive system. I highly recommend that you give this very interesting and revered tea a try.