By Jess Hodges
I have a new favourite tea. It's a green Pu-erh and after having two cups at an Edinburgh cafe I ended up buying the rest of their supply (not as crazy as it sounds, they didn't have that much left!).
Pu-erh is named after the county in the Yunnan province of China where it originated. It is made from the assimica variety of camellia sinensis which has larger leaves and a slightly different flavour and benefits greatly from ageing. The leaves used should ideally be from old, wild trees making it a scarce and expensive product.
The harvested leaves are first made into a green tea known as maocha. To do this they are sun dried and then briefly pan fried before being rolled and dried again. The maocha can now either be pressed raw producing green pu-erh or ripened first to create an aged pu-erh. This is done by piling and turning the leaves in damp conditions to encourage bacteria and mimic the flavour of a naturally ripened aged pu-erh which can be left for decades to develop.
There are several famous mountains where pu-erh is grown and each produces tea with different characteristics. It's variety, rarity and the benefits of ageing mean that genuine high quality ripened pu-erh can be a collectors item and is extremely highly sought after. Lower cost versions will be blended with more affordable green teas before pressing and a lot of counterfeit versions are sold illegally.
Just a few of the various health benefits ascribed to pu-erh are that it reduces cholesterol, acts as a hangover cure and aids weight loss so it's pretty much the perfect antidote to the modern life style! I'm in love with it though not because of it's wonderful properties or celebrity status but just because it tastes absolutely delicious which at the end of the day is the most important thing.
Monday, December 20, 2010
By Jess Hodges