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Home >> Focus on Yunnan >> Pu'er Tea

Pu'er - The Famous Tea from the South

Whenever Yunnan tea is mentioned, people will inevitable remember the famous Pu'er tea hold that the tea has a strong and lasting fragrance as well as a mild nature. Moreover, it has curative powers in certain diseases.

It is said that the unique taste of the Pu'er tea has something to do with its transport by horses. In the old days, tea was carried on horses from the production areas to Pu'er, capital city of the prefecture, to be distributed throughout the country. On these long trips in the tropical rain forest, the humid air made the tea ferment, releasing a strong fragrant smell. By and by, people got used to and came to like the smell resulting from natural fermentation. So, a special technique of tea fermentation was developed and Pu'er tea was thus created. Unlike green tea----the fresher the better----the quality of Pu'er tea is decided according to how long it has been kept ----the longer, the stronger the fragrance is.

Though named Pu'er, the tea leaves are actually produced in the Xishuangbanna and Simao prefectures, while Pu'er is only the tea processing and distributing center. The earliest historical record about plantations of Pu'er tea was made by FanChuo, the envoy of Tang(618-907) imperial court who visited Yunnan.

Pu'er tea is divided into two kinds----loose and pressed. In appearance, the loose kind is thickly veined and brownish red in color, while the pressed kind is made of the steamed and compacted loose tea. According to the particular shapes, the pressed kind is given different names: the "brick tea", "cubic tea" and "cake tea".

After Pu'er tea became famous, the authorities strengthened control over the tea trade to keep up with the imperial court's policies. In the late Ming Dynasty, the imperial court appointed an official to Pu'er to oversee tea trade, and in the middle of the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911), the imperial court established an official Tea Bureau there. In the early Qing Dynasty, over 10,000 packs of tea were shipped and sold in Tibet alone.

The Qing emporor named Pu'er tea a tribute. Every year 32,500 kilograms had to be turned in to the court, of which the major varieties were Nannuo tea, Youle tea and Yiwu tea.

Walking around in the city of Pu'er now, it is hard to visualize the grand occasion of tea transportation in the old days. Nor even can one find a tea market of considerable scale.
Nevertheless, the great fame of the Pu'er tea remains today. In the tropical rain forest of Xishuangbanna, one can see an 800-year-old cultivated tea tree, in addition to a wild tea tree more than1,700 years old. These two trees serve as evidence that Xishuangbanna is the native home of tea in the world.

If we say Yunnan is the origin of Chinese tea, Pu'er tea, long famous throughout the world, is the proper representative of Yunnan tea.

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The Famous Pu'er Tea
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