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Pu'er tea in Pu'er city

http://www.chinese.cn 13:14, April 8, 2011 china.org.cn

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Pu'er city in southwest China's Yunnan Province is home to the world famous tea of the same name, which originates in the area.

The history of Pu'er tea can be traced back over 1,800 years to the ancient Tea Horse trade route that starts from Simao District in Pu'er. This route, often referred to as Tea Horse Road, stretches from its southern end in Yunnan throughout Southeast Asia, connecting Beijing in the north with Tibet in the west.

It was along this trade route many eons ago that pu'er's unique post fermentation characteristic was accidentally discovered. The high humidity, hot rainfall and sunlight of the area imbued the tea with its unique qualities that have made the product world famous.

Pu'er city in southwest China's Yunnan Province is home to the world famous tea of the same name, which originates in the area.
Pu'er city in southwest China's Yunnan Province is home to the world famous tea of the same name, which originates in the area. 

Often called "soft gold", pu'er tea is like an antique - the more it ages, the more valuable it becomes. There are two main varieties of pu'er: raw, or green tea, and ripened, or fermented tea. The green tea variety helps lower the body's temperature and is pleasant to drink in the summer.

Fermented tea is good for ladies because it helps with weight loss and is very good for the skin. In fact most people prefer this variety of pu'er as it is more distinct from most other green teas, especially the broad-leaf variety.

"Longjing and Tieguanyin are small-leaf teas that can only be brewed ten times. But pu'er tea can be brewed over 30 times."

Pu'er tea dates back over 3,000 years. There is a 2,700-year-old wild tea tree that still produces tea leaves today and thrives in the city of its namesake. Every spring, locals pick leaves in the tea fields.

"It's important not to pick tea leaves too early or too late in the day. Usually we start at 9 a.m. and finish by 3 p.m. from February to December. Spring tea leaves are the best of the whole year."

They pick tender leaves and handle them gingerly to prevent bruising and unwanted oxidation. Weather permitting, they'll spread the leaves in the sun or a ventilated space to wilt and reduce water content. Following that a process called "shaqing," or literally "kill green," takes place.

"Both green tea and pu'er tea need this procedure. It takes high temperatures to bake the tea leaves during the "kill green" process. This stops any enzyme activity in the leaf and prevents further oxidation."

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