This is one of the most popular teas in China. Pu'erh gets its name from a town in the south western province of the Yunnan region, and though tea is not grown in this town, it was at one time a thriving tea market. Pu'erh is a large leaf tea variety or Dayeh, and is grown and picked throughout the year, unlike other teas that require a dormant season. Although dark Pu'erh tastes much like black tea, it is not black or oolong tea, but falls into a category of its own. Pu'erh is processed much like black tea with the exception of a couple steps. The tea is picked, processed and partially fired allowing the leaves to retain moisture. The slightly moist tea is then piled. The natural bacterium on the leaves creates a reaction similar to that of a compost pile. The tea is then aged, in special underground rooms or caves, adding to its unique character. One of the most significant distinctions of this tea is that it gets better over time. These aged teas are prized and can be found in vintages, like wine, some dating back 40 to 50 to 100 years.
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