How To Brew Pu-erh Tea

Tuesday, 10 January 2017  |  Maja Alice

A guide to brewing Pu-erh tea for beginners and tea connoisseurs

Pu-erh is a variety of post-fermented tea that stems from the Yunnan province of China. Pu-erh is traditionally aged years to create a deep flavour complexity.

The tea imparts a dark amber liquor when brewed. There are two methods of brewing Pu-erh tea. The traditional Chinese method is more complex than the simpler Western method, but also creates a more authentic flavour experience.

Pu-erh is made from the large leaf, Assamica variety of the Camellia Sinensis tea plant. The tea leaves are either curled and sold as loose leaf tea, or shaped into bricks and cakes. 

Pu-erh tea undergoes a specialist and gradual fermentation and maturation process. Aging creates a complex, rich and smooth flavour profile.

There are two types of Pu-erh tea - ‘Raw Pu-erh’ and ‘Ripened’ or ‘Cooked’ Pu-erh.

Raw Pu-erh is aged over time and has an earthy flavour that is created through a slow oxidation process. Unlike the oxidation of other tea varieties such as black or oolong tea, the oxidation of Raw Pu-erh is not catalysed by the plant's own enzymes but by bacterial, fungal, or auto-oxidation.

The flavour of Raw Pu-erh changes over time. A well-aged Raw Pu-erh has a strong, earthy yet clean and smooth flavour, sometimes with toasty or sweet undertones. The liquor’s aroma is reminiscent of rich garden soil or an autumn leaf pile.

Ripened Pu-erh (also known as ‘Cooked Pu-erh’) undergoes a process that imitates the aging process of Raw Pu-erh. 

The flavour of Pu-erh is also affected by the cultivar, age and size of the fresh tea leaves.

Like fine red wine, a well-aged Pu-erh tea is a sought-after and luxurious beverage.

400ml Zenshi Glass Tea Pot with Glass Infuser Pu-erh Cake Prying Pick with Rosewood Handle Perfect Tea Timer

The Modern Western Method

This method is quite simple and is recommended for people who are new to Pu-erh tea.

You will need

Click on item to purchase

Brewing

  1. Whether you are using loose leaf Pu-erh or a Pu-erh cake, we recommend that you use approximately 3-4g of Pu-erh tea per 200ml of water. The strength of the tea will depend on the amount tea relative to the amount of water.

  2. If you are brewing tea from a Pu-erh cake, break off a small piece of tea using your prying pick. Weigh the tea to ensure that you have the right amount for the quantity of tea you wish to brew. You can also do this using a tea scoop.

Example - If you are looking to brew a 400ml pot of tea, you will need 6-8g of Pu-erh.

  1. Place the tea in an infuser, fasten the infuser in your teapot and pour in a small amount of hot water.

Note - The hotter the temperature of the water, the stronger your brew will be. You can control the strength of the brew by measuring the temperature of the water.

  1. Swirl the water around to rinse out any impurities from the tea.

  2. Discard of this water leaving behind the wet tea leaves in your infuser.

  3. Pour hot water in your teapot and leave to steep for 2-4 minutes. Steeping times vary from tea to tea so please check the brewing instructions on the packaging.

  4. Once the tea has steeped, remove your tea filter to stop the infusion process.

  5. You can reuse the tea several times.

200ml Zenshi Glass Gaiwan 300ml Zenshi Small Glass Pitcher 50ml Zenshi Double Walled Thermo Glass 

 

 
100ml Non-Glazed Yixing Gaiwan   100ml Glazed Yixing Gaiwan

The Traditional Chinese Method

This method is more complex and is recommended for experienced Pu-erh drinkers and tea connoisseurs.

You will need

Click on item to purchase

Brewing 

  1. Whether you are using loose leaf Pu-erh or a Pu-erh cake, we recommend that you use approximately 3-4g of Pu-erh tea per 200ml of water. The strength of the tea will depend on the amount tea relative to the amount of water.

  2. If you are brewing tea from a Pu-erh cake, break off a small piece of tea using your prying pick. Weigh the tea to ensure that you have the right amount for the quantity of tea you wish to brew. You can also do this using a tea scoop.

  3. Rinse your Gaiwan, pitcher and tasting cups in boiling water.

  4. Place the tea in your Gaiwan.

  5. Pour a small amount of hot water into the Gaiwan. To ensure an authentic flavour, the water must be 100℃.

  6. Wash the tea leaves with the hot water and discard of the liquid.

  7. Fill you Gaiwan with hot water (still 100℃), place the lid on top of the Gaiwan and leave to steep for approximately 15-30 seconds.

  8. Slightly tilt the Gaiwan lid and pour the infusion into your pitcher leaving the tea leaves in the Gaiwan.

  9. You can reuse the tea leaves several times. Each infusion will have a slightly different flavour.

  10. Serve the Pu-erh infusion in the pre-heated tea tasting cups.

 

How to Break Apart a Pu-erh Cake

Break apart your Pu-erh cake using a prying pick.

New to Pu-erh tea?

Try our Pu-erh Tea Discovery Pack.

Shop our full Pu-erh range