Many people are confused when talking about Pu Erh, especially when there are not much sufficient data available in the internet while very often it is not so accurate when it is translated to English.
Here i will make a simple introduction. I included some simple chinese word for easier references.
there are 2 types of Pu Erh :
Raw (生Sheng)/ Green (青Qing) Pu Erh
Ripe (熟Shu) Pu Erh
The differences between these two is the way of processing it, in a simple word, Raw Pu Erh is made to aging by time being with rich different changes while Ripe Pu Erh is fermented in the beginning and also can be aging for a smoother texture.
Both of them are from the same species of raw material which is in Yunnan, while they may consist a mixture or purely made from :
Plantation bushes (Plantation tea tree)
Natural wild tree (Natural grown tea tree)
In the early century, when shrub plantation were not familiar or started, all the tea tree were natural grown without any insecticide and fertilizer. The local natives discovered the tea tree can be drink, so they moves the young age tree to their own land and start to produces tea ( NOTE these tree are not plantation tree as they are grown by seeds with roots ). Notable example of the tea that we are mentioning here are usually names like :
Song Pin Hao （宋聘号）
Che Shun Hao （车顺号）
*Note the name of the tea usually ends with "Hao" which is like a benchmark for that specific era such around late Qing. These tea are still available in the world while most of them are private collection or in the auction selling with extremely high value. They are being praise with made by natural old tea tree.
During the revolution of China in 1966-1976, all these private own land tea tree were consider illegal and must be summit to the country. In this period, most of the tea tree were abandoned and some were destroy for country's development. The invention of new Pu Erh a.k.a Ripe Pu Erh born during this era after the introduction of Plantation bushed method were introduced. Certain's claim the date is back to around 1974 as the Ripe PuErh is born.
The new industrial tea producer also started here, exporting large quantities of Pu Erh no matter Raw or Ripe made from the Plantation bushes. They are the first chinese tea to introduce to the world during that era, because previously the tea mention earlier was never meant for export. Thus this had make a strong and firm perception of the specific type of taste for Pu Erh in the opinion worldwide. Yet this is not really a good sign as this may lead to a wrong perception that All Pu Erh should taste like the tea produces in that era.
In conclusion, drinking a good tea is not determined by the prices or packaging. Here Im not downgrading plantation bushes but history, this is to provides an information for all tea lover. As a good tea drinker should always remember never to judge a tea by a wrong perception, the reason to post this is to shared about :
Plantation tea and natural grown tea are TOTALLY DIFFERENT THINGS when comes to taste and aging though they are the same species. Yet both can be a GOOD tea when it is properly care in growing and processing into tea cake.
In the next post, i will share about the differences of plantation and natural grown tea.