Pu-erh or PuÃ¢â‚¬â„¢er tea is a variety of fermented dark tea produced in Yunnan province, China. Fermentation is a tea production style in which the tea leaves undergo microbial fermentation and oxidation after they are dried and rolled.
Pu-erh traditionally begins as a raw product known as Ã¢â‚¬Å“roughÃ¢â‚¬Â (Mao Cha) and can be sold in this form or pressed into a number of shapes and sold as Ã¢â‚¬Å“rawÃ¢â‚¬Â (Sheng Cha) . Both of these forms then undergo the complex process of gradual fermentation and maturation with time. The Wo Dui process developed in the mid-1970s by the Menghai and Kunming Tea Factories created a new type of pu-erh tea, whose legitimacy is disputed by some traditionalists. This process involves an accelerated fermentation into Ã¢â‚¬Å“ripeÃ¢â‚¬Â (Shou Cha) which is then stored loose or pressed into various shapes. All types of pu-erh can be stored to mature before consumption, which is why it is commonly labeled with year and region of production.
While unaged and unprocessed, Maocha pu-erh is similar to green tea. Ripened and aged pu-erh tea has undergone secondary oxidization and fermentation caused both by organisms growing in the tea and free-radical oxidation, thus making it a unique type of tea. This divergence in production style not only makes the flavor and texture of pu-erh tea different but also results in a rather different chemical makeup of the resulting brewed liquor.
Pu-erh is prized for its health benefits and its ability to lower LDL-cholesterol, which is a risk for cardiovascular disease. In addition, it is also high in cancer fighting antioxidants, and it can lower blood sugar and prevent oxidation of cholesterol plaque.