Lets keep it simple. There are three different kinds of Pu’er Tea:
Raw Pu’er Tea (purest form and the only tea we offer)
Aged Raw Pu’er (Pu’er that has been naturally aged for years)
Ripe Pu’er Tea (tea that may or may not be old but is artificially aged and is much darker in color).
There is much to be said and learned about each of these, and we encourage you to do just that. However, within the category of Raw Pu’er there are two subcategories that are rarely discussed: Spring and Autumn.
The season in which any tea is picked greatly determines its taste, look, and value. Many of the World’s famous teas are prized for the Spring harvest, Pu’er is not to be excluded. Spring Pu’er is picked for about three months usually beginning in late January or early February, depending on the region. Autumn is generally picked beginning around September.
Spring Pu’er is known for its smooth and mellow flavor, usually not nearly as bold as a great Autumn Pu’er. The leaves are generally smaller, as they are new to the tree/bush, and after sitting dormant over the winter, sprout with a tremendous amount of vibrant energy and usually caffeine is more noticeable in this tea. Depending on how early or late in Spring, the rainfall rate will effect the growth rate which effects the amount of nutrients that had time to build up in the leaves. The flavor is very refreshing and the feeling is vibrant.
Autumn Pu’er is known for its bolder flavors and reminiscent of a stone-fruit or earthy taste. The rainy season is coming to a close and the leaves grow large and sit on the branch collecting flavor and depth. The energy is much more comforting and the taste is sweet and smooth. The color is more amber-like as opposed to the bright green of a Spring Pu’er.
Think of it as the difference between Easter and Thanksgiving. During Easter we have flowers just blossoming onto the fruit trees and the weather is cooler and more floral of a feeling, so the tea has notes of those blossoms. At Thanksgiving, we have much bolder and darker colors and the flower that was once on the tree has turned into fruit and the weather is warmer and more comforting. The teas of this season are just that, warmer and bolder, tasting more like fruit than like flower. The difference is subtle but certainly noticeable.
Available now is a limited supply of Spring Pu’er from the Same Family and Same Farm as always. Many, in fact most, Pu’er available through others is blended. There is no idea of whether it is Spring or Autumn, or maybe even Winter or Summer(which is usually when the teas get sent off to factories that produce Ripe Pu’er. If the season and the year are not given, maybe it’s time to start asking questions.
Thank you so very much for being a part of educating and exploring this world of Pu’er Tea with us. Let us all continue to drink Pu’er and learn more about teas, and about life.
This post is reprinted with permission fromMisty Peak Teas. Loading and post image courtesy of Misty Peak Teas.