If I wasn’t prepared for the lightness, yet electrical energy transference of White Tea, I certainly wasn’t prepared for Pu’er. It is a thick, dark substance, and despite what I knew before, was the only fermented tea in the shop. It ages over time in thick cakes, which are then distributed for infusion. It is absolutely the most earthy of all of the teas. It resembles dark, muddy water, yet a water that is infused with the energy of a cup of coffee. It almost has the taste of a stout beer like Guiness. It’s a surprising taste, and one that opens up to a completely different world of tea.
The thick cakes that pu’er makes for the tea are divided into Shou, or cooked, ripe, dark, a modern accelerated fermentation, and Shen, raw uncooked green – original natural extended fermentation. The tea I had in the teahouse was Shou. But I was shown the original cakes for the tea of both Shou and Shen, to get a feel for it. The shop knows I am writing about tea, and go to great lengths to share their observations, and show every step of the way. Pu’er is no exception.
There are apparently tea houses that entirely focus on Pu’er. I always thought of it as special and rare. It was almost as jarring as a first taste of Turkish coffee, and just as thick and creamy. This made sense to be the last variety of tea I tasted at the shop. Summer school starts this week, and I won’t have time to write any more entries for the next few months. It’s been an incredible journey, and tea is something that always changes, making us more mindful of our experiences, and connecting to our environment in mind and body.