How to choose good Pu'er Tea

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

Here are some tips for selecting Pu'er tea. Get ready with YUYUN, become a tea expert!

Pu'er tea cake
Pu'er tea cake

If you’ve read our other article, you would know that Pu’er is more advanced than most teas, the flavour is complex and earthy. It comes in two types, raw and ripe, the selecting and brewing techniques also have a few extra steps.

Choose Pu'er tea step by step

1. View shape and colour.

The first step in selecting Pu'er tea is in the appearance of the tea. The appearance is mainly based on the colour and texture of the dry tea. Mouldy spots on the tea leaves indicate improper storage and inferior products. Pu'er raw tea is fresh and tender, dark green.

Ripe tea has a darker colour than raw tea, showing a reddish-brown colour.

2. Tea infusion.

The colour of the tea infusion reflects the quality of the Pu'er tea production process, storage year, and storage method. The good Pu'er tea infusion is translucent, depending on the storage time, the colours vary between yellow, gold, yellow-orange, and chestnut red. Raw tea is a light yellow or golden yellow, which is more translucent. Ripe tea is dark red or even reddish-brown. The colour is bright and clear.

3. Smell and taste.

After long-term storage, Pu'er tea naturally has a strong aroma, the more mature, the stronger the aroma. The tea can easily absorb other odours during storage that will damage the taste of the tea. Pu’er should not have a musty smell. If it does it proves the storage method is improper.

4. Efficacy.

Pu’er tea is known to contain many health benefits, however, the efficacy of raw tea and ripe tea is very different. When selecting, you can also take into account the functional requirements of each variety.

Raw tea: Contains a lot of tea polyphenols, aromatic tea flavour, and can be used for detoxification, bringing gentle heat actually makes hot conditions more comfortable, while also refreshing, makes it very suitable for drinking in summer. However, it is not advisable to drink more before going to bed, as it contains caffeine.

Ripe tea: Many studies suggest the enzymes in ripe tea have anti-arteriosclerosis, anti-inflammatory, and anti-ageing properties. A warm earthy beverage, which is considered better for colder temperatures, like in winter.

How to brew Pu’er tea?

The brewing method of Pu'er tea is different from other teas, which is related to the unique characteristics of Pu'er tea itself. Pu'er tea is a big leaf Yunnan tea, it is typically compressed, and the fermentation process means it gains its characteristics with time, the more it’s aged, the more aromatic it becomes. The brewing method of Pu'er tea is mainly grasped from the following five aspects.

1. Brewing appliance.

A Zisha teapot (good for ripe Pu'er tea): Since ripe Pu'er needs awakening with high temperature, and the interior of the Zisha teapot has pores, it has good air permeability and good thermal insulation. It is good to preserve the aroma and earthy taste of ripe Pu'er tea, so it is better to choose a Zisha teapot for brewing.

A Zisha tea set produced in Yixing, Jiangsu, China
a Zisha tea set produced in Yixing, Jiangsu, China

A purple pottery teapot (good for raw Pu'er tea): When brewing raw Pu'er, if the water temperature is too high the tender tea leaves can lose their freshness. Raw tea contains high levels of tea polyphenols and caffeine, to avoid added bitterness the infusion should be pulled out quickly to keep the tea from over-infusing. A purple pottery teapot has higher density and better thermal conductivity which is more suitable for raw Pu'er. As the water temperature needed for brewing is naturally lower, a teapot with fast heat dissipation is better for raw Pu'er; high density helps preserve the fragrance and aroma of the tea.