<![CDATA[Your Guide To Chinese Tea - Post Feed]]> https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea.html Sat, 17 Feb 2018 20:21:26 +0000 Zend_Feed http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss <![CDATA[Is Tea Halal? Is Caffeine Halal?]]> https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea/is-tea-halal.html There are 1.6 billion muslims in the world and tea is the second most consumed beverage after water. Given just these two facts, and you can imagine that this is a frequently asked question: “Is tea halal?”

Moreover, halal food is moving beyond Muslim consumers as recent meat scandals have made consumer more aware of the quality of meat. To answer the above question, let’s first understand what halal actually means.

What is halal?

The word ‘halal’ refers to what food and drinks are allowed for consumption as according to traditional Islamic law. The opposite of halal is ‘harem’. In other words, halal food can be consumed, while harem food can’t be consumed, according to Islamic law.

The meat category has the most focus, as animals has be slaughtered and processed as according to the rules. Pork is harem, no matter how it is slaughtered. We’ll leave out the exact details of such criteria, as slaughtering methods aren’t the focus of this article.

Also processed products, which contains harem meat, is’t halal. Take for example a lasagne which contains minced beef which isn’t halal. In such a case the lasagne isn’t considered halal as well.

Smoking is also not allowed, as it’s considered intoxicating.

What about beverages?

In the beverage category, it’s mainly alcoholic content that determines whether beverages are halal or harem. The reason is that alcoholic beverages are considered intoxicating.

Are tea cocktails halal?

Based on this we can easily conclude that tea cocktails with alcoholic content by definition isn’t halal.

Is kombucha halal?

Also fermented kombucha can contain slight amounts of alcohol as a result of the fermentation process. So kombucha also isn’t halal in theory. However, because it only contains traces of alcohol, it could also be interpreted as non intoxicating.

Is Coffee & Tea Halal? Does caffeine content matter?

Beverages such as tea and coffee contain caffeine. Luckily, caffeine is generally not considered intoxicating. Unlike drugs and alcohol, it’s only considered a mild stimulant. However, coffee has been controversial in the past. In 1511, it was decreed sinful Meccaan governor Khair Beg. In 1542, coffee was allowed again by the Ottoman Turkish Sultan Selim I.

While tea and coffee is mostly given the benefit of doubt, the fact is that caffeine can be considered addictive. And whether or not caffeine is intoxicating really depends on the person. So, in the end it really depends on the individual situation.

If you're interested in halal certified tea, then consider this Haiwan Halal pu erh tea.

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:22:06 +0000
<![CDATA[Oolong Tea vs Green Tea for Weight Loss: Which Is Healthier?]]> https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea/oolong-tea-vs-green-tea-for-weight-loss-which-is-healthier.html Both oolong and green tea are often promoted as a health and weight loss product. Yet, for many consumers it's not really clear which one is better. In this article, we attempt to answer two basic questions that our support team often receives:

  • Which is more healthy: oolong or green tea?
  • Is oolong tea or green tea better for weight loss?

Which is Healthier?

First of all, all leaf teas are made from the Camellia Sinenses tea plant. Yes, different teas are made from different cultivars, but they're generally all healthy. Because green tea is one of the least processed types of tea, it maintains a greener colour than oolong. Due to this, more healthy antioxidants are preserved.

However, we do have to note that tea type isn't the only factor determining the amount of antioxidants in tea. From a raw material point of view, tea buds from the early Spring season contains more antioxidants than large leaves. And the way you steep your tea also makes a difference.

At last, green tea also have more potential side effects. Light processing might maintain more antioxidants, but at the same time it makes tea more harsh for the stomach to digest. Too much green tea can result in stomach pain and diarrhea.

Which is Better for Weight Loss

This really depends. It's true that there's a lot of research that support the fact that both green and oolong tea can be beneficial to a healthy body weight. After all, there's hardly any calories in tea (without sugar and milk) and the caffeine in tea helps you burn more energy during the day.

However, what you must know is that all papers study whether people who drink tea regularly on a daily basis have more healthy body. In other words, the subjects of the study have incorporated tea in their daily lives! There's no research that proves that tea is a miracle drink with quick weight loss benefits.

There might be some quick weight loss, but that's often due to overconsumption of tea, resulting in loss of fluid. There's no quick fat burning going on here.

To some this might sound somewhat disappointing, but the encouraging message here is that if you do incorporate tea in your daily lives. You will be more healthy and you will loose weight. The key here is to learn to enjoy drinking tea. At last, there's really no need to choose between oolong and green tea. Let your mood decide!

Oolong vs Green Tea Caffeine

When it comes to caffeine content, there's a lot of confusion these days. The general believe is that green tea contains less caffeine. While this may be true on average, one needs to take into account the characteristics of the raw material used. Many green teas contain young buds that contain more caffeine than the larger leaves used for oolong tea.

On the other hand, oolong tea leaves are more oxidised, meaning that more water is extracted than green tea. This can result in more caffeine concentration in the final product. What is perhaps the most important factor is the fact that oolong tea is prepared with higher temperature water. Green tea is often prepared around 80C (175F) while oolong tea is prepared near cooking temperature. This means that more caffeine is extracted from oolong compared to green.

All in all, it's relatively safe to assume that a cup of oolong tea generally contains more caffeine than a cup of green tea.

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 20:55:25 +0000
<![CDATA[Is Oolong Tea Black Tea?]]> https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea/is-oolong-tea-black-tea.html Black tea was the first type of tea that was introduced to the West hundreds of years ago. The Dutchmen Jan Huygen van Linschoten was the first who successfully shipped tea to Portugal. In contrast, oolong tea is a relatively new tea that became popular in the recent years. It's therefore not surprising that many people don't really know the distinguish black and oolong tea. To understand this better, you need to first understand the difference in processing.

Oolong Tea versus Black Tea Production

A lot of people believe that oolong tea is a type of black tea. This isn't true. Like all teas, oolong is also made from the Camellia Sinenses tea plant. However, each tea type is processed in a different way. The processing methods used for black teas result in fully oxidised leaves. On the other hand, oolong teas are only partially oxidised. They're also known as 'semi oxidised' teas. The former term is more correct, because different oolongs can have different levels of oxidation. Take for example a Tie Guan Yin, which is very lightly oxidised, and thus maintaining a green colour. Therefore, it's not strange that many people wrongly think that Tieguanyin is a green tea.

Other oolong teas such as Dan Cong and Da Hong Pao have a darker colour. They're dark oolong teas that are sometimes also called black oolong teas. These teas have oxidation levels that are closer to black tea, though they still belong to the oolong category.

Appearance Differences

From a raw material point of view, black teas that consist of small buds are generally considered more premium. Teas like Lapsang Souchong or Keemun all consists of small leaves or buds (if they're good). Black teas even more expensive, if there's a lot of golden buds, which is the case for teas like Yunnan Gold or Jin Jun Mei.

In contrast, oolong teas are less about small buds and leaves. In fact, they often consists of larger leaves, which are more suitable for the intense processing. With oolongs, the edges of the leaves are brushed when the teas are rolled, resulting in complex aromas. This is especially the case with Tie Guan Yin.

Taste Differences

While sometimes black and oolong teas have similar appearances at first, the taste is completely different. Black teas often have honey, caramel or smokey notes. In contrast, light oolongs often taste more like green tea with flowery notes. Dark oolongs have very distinguished mineral rock flavours that are significantly different from the taste of black tea.


To sum up, black tea and oolong teas are really different tea classes. There differences in processing methods result in different levels of oxidation. Good black teas often use small leaves, while this matters less for oolong tea. The difference in processing and raw material selection result in different flavours.

While we've attempted to try our best to explain the differences, we highly recommend you to experience the difference yourself. Several years ago, cheap oolong was at first introduced as a weight loss tea in the West. Today, there's a wide offering of excellent artisan oolongs in different online and local stores.

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 08:41:46 +0000
<![CDATA[How To Store Pu Erh Tea Properly?]]> https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea/how-to-store-pu-erh-tea.html In the past, we've published an article before about how to store loose leaf tea in general. However, not all principles of tea storage apply to pu erh tea.

Yet, this is one of the most popular tea types and it's unique due to its great 'aging potential'. With the latter we mean that its taste and aroma can develop over time as a result of gradual fermentation while it's stored away.

However, pu erh tea only ages well in appropriate environments. conditions like temperature and humidity are important factors. Pu erh should also be stored away from strong odours.

All these factors are crucial to the quality of the tea. Luckily, once you're aware of them, they aren't hard to maintain. Below a detailed guide on how to store pu erh properly.


When it comes to fermentation speed, temperature is perhaps the most important factor. Too high temperature will accelerate the fermentation too much and make the tea go sour, while at very low temperatures there will be no fermentation at all. The good thing about pu erh is that it actually likes temperatures similar to humans.

In the best-case scenario, the temperature of the storage is based on the local environment with no deliberately man-made interference, and is maintained at 20-30 degrees Celsius all year round. If that's not the case, air-conditioner/heater should be used to regulate the temperature.

In practice, such a perfect scenario isn't realistic. However, here are a few practical tips:

  • If you're living in a hot country, you could perhaps store the pu erh in a room where the air conditioner is often turned on.
  • In contrast, if you live in a cold country, then store the pu erh in a room where heating is used. In the latter situation, make sure the tea isn't stored to close to the radiators itself. This is because the actual temperature can be much higher than the overal room temperature. In addition, temperature fluctuations are much more volatile near the heating. Microbial communities on the leaves of pu erh that are responsible for the fermentation of pu erh, and they prefer stable environments.


A suitable humidity for pu erh storage should be between 50-75%. Humidity levels should always be considered together with the temperature. For instance, for temperatures close to 30 degrees Celsius, humidity levels around 50% should be more suitable, while for temperatures close to 20 degrees Celsius you want the humidity level to be up to 75%.

Outdoor humidity can be quite volatile locally and across regions. For example, in the rainy season, the humidity in east China will be higher than 75% because of the warm ocean climate. In South China, the air relative humidity will be as high as 95%.

In highly humid weather, it's not recommended to open the windows for too long, because the humidity will get higher with an open window. Why? Because indoor humidity generally tends to be lower than indoor humidity. You might want to consider the following tips:

  • When there's high humidity, the pu erh storage space should be enclosed with some moisture absorbent inside, such as quicklime and charcoal.
  • If the dampness is serious, you should use a dehumidifier.
  • Avoid storing pu erh tea on the floor. Some people put their pu erh in a carton on the floor. The problem is that floors are often more humid. When the room temperature drops, humidity in the air will turn into condensation on the floor. Therefore, even if you don't store the pu erh tea in a closet, it's better if you can find a way to store the pu erh more evaluated.

In contract, in the dry seasons, especially the winter, the weather is often too dry. Here's what can help:

  • Consider increasing the moisture in the storage area by using a humidifier. Do not position the humidifier too close to the pu erh tea.
  • Another option is to put a 1 or 2 glasses of water near where the pu erh is stored to increase the local humidity.
  • At last, you can also temporarily store your pu erh in sealed plastic bags before the weather gets too dry. It is an easy and effective way, if the quantity of the tea is small.


Pu erh tea storage should be odour-free. A separate storage environment is ideal to ensure no odour intrusion. In reality, it's hard to decide a full room to just storing pu erh. However, make sure pu erh isn't stored too close to:

  • kitchens
  • bathrooms
  • any other area with significant odours from soap, detergents to herbs and dried fruits.

Air Circulation

While many loose leaf teas are better of sealed in airtight containers, this isn't the cake for pu erh. The microbes that allow tea to ferment need fresh air to breath. By simply opening the windows once a day, fresh air will come in while any potential bad odours move away.


When opening a pu erh, it's always important to remember to preserve the original packaging. Carton boxes and bamboo & paper wrappers are all designed to regulate humidity and protect the tea. If you don't have the original packaging anymore, you can alternatively look for wooden boxes, kraft paper bags or cotton wrappers.

Store Together, but Separate Shou & Sheng

It's a good idea to store pu erh as much as possible together. By doing this the aromas of each piece of pu erh will intensify one another. However, make sure to store shou en sheng pu erhs separated from each other since they've very different aroma characteristics.

Shelf Life

Given that you've purchased well processed, good quality pu erh, and given that it's stored with care, pu erh tea should last many years and develop excellent aromas. In fact, there are still vintage pu erhs available on the market from many decennia ago that tea enthousiasts would die for.

Keep in mind that some pu erhs might have a strong 'storage flavour' when stored away for very long or improperly. In such a case, you can store it in a Yixing tea caddy to let it air.


Pu erh that ages under correct storage conditions shows its fine characters: the slow but steady fermentation retains the aroma of the tea itself and gives a nice gloss to the tea leaves. The bitterness and the astringency will gradually fade away. The taste of the tea becomes more harmonious. It’s not just the longevity of the tea that counts, but also the vitality!

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 09:53:54 +0000
<![CDATA[Osmanthus Rice Cake Recipe (Gui Hua Nian Gao)]]> https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea/osmanthus-rice-cake-recipe-gui-hua-nian-gao.html Osmanthus flowers (gui hua, 桂花) are the blossoms of the popular osmanthus shrubs that are native to East Asia. These tiny flowers are famous for their soothing yet intoxicating fragrance. In China, osmanthus flowers have been used in food and beverages such as desserts, wine and tea. Although they are small in size, their aroma is surprisingly powerful. That’s why there is a saying in Chinese:

“When the osmanthus flowers blossom, the fragrance spreads to ten miles.”

Imagine a delicious rice cake with a sweet lingering aroma of osmanthus – it’s the taste of Southern China. We have here the perfect recipe for osmanthus rice cake (gui hua nian gao, 桂花年糕). It can be served anytime as a tasty treat. Best of all, it’s very easy to make!


Visit a local Chinese supermarket or buy the below ingredients online:

  • 500 grams of rice cake
  • 10 grams of dried osmanthus flowers
  • 50 grams of honey
  • 20 grams of lard


While you might not feel comfortable with making such an exotic dish, it’s in fact really simple. Follow the preparation steps below:

  • Soak the osmanthus for 30 minutes, then mix with honey. Let the mixture sit overnight.
  • Cut the rice cake into 1 cm thick slices.
  • Heat the lard in a pan, put rice cake slices in and stir fry for 2 minutes.
  • Pour 100 ml of water in the pan, simmer till there’s just little water left and the rice cake is soft.
  • Place the rice cake slices in a plate, pour the osmanthus and honey mixture on top.
  • Enjoy the dessert while it’s hot!

Tip: Also make some osmanthus tea by steeping the osmanthus flowers with hot water for 2 minutes.

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 09:57:07 +0000
<![CDATA[Pu Erh Tea Blend Versus Single Origin]]> https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea/pu-erh-tea-blend-versus-single-origin.html When buying pu erh tea, some people care whether the tea is a blend of leaves or single origin tea. There's a lot of negative perception on the word 'blend' amongst tea lovers. The common believe is that low quality leaves are blended, while good tea is pure. However, blends aren't necessary bad. Big brands like Xiaguan and Dayi both offer pu erh that are mostly blended. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of pu erh blends versus pure pu erh.

Pure and single origin defined

There are lots of buzz words in the pu erh industry such as the name of famous mountains. The word 'pure' is also one of these buzz words. Though it sounds beautiful there's also a lot of misunderstanding created by this term. Should the tea leaves be from the same region? or even the same tree? Should it be picked around the same time? And does it matter if the leaves are in different grades? There's simply no official definition of pure tea and it all depends on how far you want to go.

In theory, pure tea could also be poor quality. Leaves from a low quality tea garden are all from one place are 'pure', but it won't produce good tea.

Blending pu erh is all about the art of mixing different types of loose leaves to get a more balanced end result. Blending, when done well, can also give the resulting tea a more layered flavour.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Pure Pu Erh Tea


  1. Obvious and highly recognisable character. There's a higher chance you'll either like it a lot or hate it, which is a lot of fun for tea connoisseurs who're looking for an adventure.
  2. Shape and size of the leaves are consistent and good looking.
  3. Easier to predict, anticipate and control aging.
  4. Uniform colour.


  1. Flavour might not be as layered, compared to a well blended pu erh.
  2. Every year's taste might be influenced by weather conditions.
  3. Prices can fluctuate a lot dependant on harvest quality and quantity.
  4. More expensive, and harder to buy because there are a lot of fakes in the market.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Blended Pu Erh Tea


  1. For manufacturers blended teas can be produced in larger quantity.
  2. Prices are more stable.
  3. Stable flavour year on year.
  4. The flavour is more liked by the majority of pu erh drinkers.
  5. When blended well, the resulting tea can achieve high price-quality ratio.
  6. There are endless ways to blend different teas allowing the producer to create new and unique teas.


  1. Blending good teas require skill and quantity.
  2. The appearance of a blended pu erh looks less consistent.

Different ways to blend pu erh

There are different ways to blend pu erh tea leaves. The tea master can experience by blending leaves from different:

  • Seasons: for example mixing Autumn and Spring pu erh together.
  • Cultivars: to enhance the flavour
  • Trees: for example to mix leaves from young trees with old trees.
  • Grades: this is often to reduce the cost of coordinating quality.
  • Years: this makes the tea stable in taste.
  • Fermentation levels
  • Mountains

So is pure or blended pu erh tea better?

There's no correct answer to this. There are tea lovers who're so fascinated with the real stuff that they're always in pursuit of pure tea from only one region or even a single ancient tree. Others are in love with the continuous improvement of blended teas and see this as another alternative form of art. It has its own matching charm.

Our recommendation is to start out with buying blended teas first. Use the experience of drinking those as a benchmark to compare more unique pure, single-origin teas.

Please note that in this article we only discuss the blending of different pu erh teas. In practice, pu erh leaves might also be blended with different herbs such as Chrysanthemum and rose flowers. Also a special kind of herb is used to create rice flavour pu erhs, which is called nuo mi xiang.

Tue, 28 Nov 2017 15:54:10 +0000
<![CDATA[History of Black Tea: Where Did Black Tea Originate From?]]> https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea/where-did-black-tea-originate-history.html In the early days of tea, tea production was as simple as simply picking and drying and/or roasting the leaves. But during the Ming Dynasty people noticed that tea leaves can actually be allowed to wither and oxidise. These allowed the leaves to develop more flavour and black tea was discovered.

Nobody knows for sure who discovered black tea first. As with many discoveries, it often happens by accident. According to a legend, farmers in Wuyishan had no time to process the leaves after they were picked when a group of soldiers marched into the village. The next day, the tea leaves were withered. To save the harvest, the leaves were roasted with pine wood. The villagers were positively surprised by the results and the demand for this new type of tea started to grow exponentially.

Early Chinese Black tea types

So where did black tea originate from? The first discovery of black tea was in the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian. Today, the black tea from this region is called ‘Lapsang Souchong’ or ‘Zhengshan Xiaozhong’. This tea contains of small leaves and buds. Its colour tends to be black, but can sometimes contain some golden buds. Premium versions contain mostly out of golden buds, and it's called Jin Jun Mei.

Later on growers from Qimen (or ‘Keemun’) visited the Wuyi Mountains to study how Lapsang Souchong was made. Soon after, they started to locally produce black tea named after their region: Keemun black tea or Qimen Hong Cha.

Introduction of Black Tea Worldwide

Before black tea was discovered, there was mainly trade of pu erh tea for horses along the ancient tea horse road. Pu erh tea made it’s way to Tibet and neighbouring regions. Later on it was the Japanese who were were interested in Chinese green tea. But tea became really popular worldwide when black tea was available.

The Portuguese were the first to introduce tea to the West in the 16th century, lead by the Dutchmen Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, 1563-1611. It was known to improve concentration and health. First, the royal families who loved it, followed by the aristocrats and later on also the masses.

During the 17th century, demand for tea flourished, and the Dutch East India Company were leading the trade. Yet, soon the British East India Company dominated tea trade when they successfully copied the Chinese and started tea production in India.

When tea bags were developed, this further spurred the growth of demand as tea became easier to make. Global tea brands such as Lipton began to appear. These global brands slowly started to manage, cultivate and blend their own tea at the source eroding the dominance of the British East India Company.

Today, small producers are making a comeback with the increasing popularity of artisan tea.

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 10:48:37 +0000
<![CDATA[Temporary Offer! Mini Pu Erh Cakes Baskets!]]> https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea/recent-corporate-project-mini-pu-erh-cakes-basket.html We're excited to introduce you small baskets that includes 84 pieces of miniature pu erh cakes. They're packed per 7 pieces like traditional pu erh (tongs). Each piece is 7 grams, which is perfect for one pu erh tea session.

These baskets are temporarily available for pre-order. Both ripe and raw pu erhs are available and they're perfect Christmas and New Year gifts for those who love tea!

Interested? Please drop us an email at info@teasenz.com. Retail & wholesale orders are both welcome!

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 10:21:03 +0000
<![CDATA[Pu Erh Tea Taste Explained!]]> https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea/pu-erh-tea-taste.html Pu erh tea tastes like dirt! That's what you'll here some people say when they first try pu erh taste. Those who had a bad experience trying this post-fermented tea the first time, might believe you need an acquired taste for it. As a matter of fact, Pu erh has a wide spectrum of flavours, and you sometimes just need to find out what matches your taste.

Pu erh is unique in the world of tea. There is no other tea like it in terms of processing, storage, and taste. Different factors such as origins of the raw materials, soil, altitude, time, storage conditions affect the taste of pu erh and make it such a fascinating type of tea.

What are the main flavours of pu erh? What are the factors that affect the taste of pu erh? Being aware of all this will make you a enjoy pu erh at a deeper level and make you a more knowledgable pu erh buyer. Let’s go through some of the main aspects and find out!

Main Flavours of Pu erh

Generally speaking, Pu erh can be sweet, bitter, floral, mellow, woody, astringent, sour, earthy, watery, or even tasteless. A combination of tastes appear in one single steeping. Bear in mind that the taste also changes as the tea ages. So, don’t throw away your pu erh if you didn’t like it the first time.

Raw and Ripe

Raw Pu erh (sheng cha) and ripe Pu erh (shu cha) are the two main categories of pu erh. Sheng cha is generally bitterer, with a strong green vegetal flavour. But after some years of natural aging, the bitterness would disappear and the charming aged aroma would arise. Because of that, sheng cha is popular among pu erh collectors.

Shu cha appeared after the pile (wo dui) fermentation process was developed in 1973. This process accelerates the fermentation process and also gives newly-produced shu cha a special ripe flavour called “wo dui wei” (pile fermentation taste). During storage, the smell and taste of the aging shu cha changes all the time. With time, shu cha will gradually get rid of the “wo dui wei” and become mellow and smooth.

If the wo dui wei stays, you can consider airing and awakening your pu erh in a yixing jar.

Tea Mountains

Pu erh of different tea mountains has different taste. Banzhang, Yiwu, Jingmai, Bingdao, Bulang, Bangdong… Famous tea mountains like these all produce Pu erh with their own distinct characteristics in taste. Banzhang tea has the most aggressive flavour; Yiwu tea is peaceful with high aroma; Jingmai tea is moderate and soft; Bingdao tea tastes crisp and sweet; Bulang tea tastes heavy; Bangdong tea has a sweet aftertaste that last very long.

Besides these 6 famous tea mountains, new have appeared contenders appeared in the recent period. See below a map with all mountains shown:

Wild Arbor Tea and Garden Tea

Wild arbor tea are grown in the nature and tastes calm, sweet and soft. Although the aroma isn’t as strong as the garden tea, but it’s broader and deeper. The taste of wild tea is more comprehensive and smooth.

Garden tea tastes thinner and more stimulating compare to wild tea. It has a strong sweet aftertaste and a high aroma, but don't last as long as the wild arbor tea. Garden tea is classified in different grades.

The distinction between garden tea, arbor tea, and arbor tea from famous tea mounts can greatly affect the price of pu erh.

Aged Taste

Aged pu erh has a distinct taste (chen wei), also called aged aroma (chen xiang). No matter the tea is raw or ripe, after 3-5 years of appropriate storage, chen wei would be there. That’s the result of the activities of micro-organisms in the tea leaves. The older the tea gets, the stronger the chen wei is - because the gradual process of micro-organic growth. The aged taste is considered a part of the charm of pu erh as the tea will become more mellow and smooth.

It's however a common misperception that must older is better. Individual pu erh drinkers might have preferences for young, mildly aged or aged pu erh. Those who drink young pu erhs prefer the strong characteristics of fresh bitterness and astringency.

Taste Affected by Storage Conditions

In order to let the pu erh age well, in other words, to let the micro-mechanisms in tea leaves to work well, there are 3 aspects of concern: air circulation, temperature, and humidity. If any of the aspects went wrong, the tea will age badly. For example, if the storage environment was too humid, the tea would taste musty; if the air circulation was bad and if there were other smells in the room, the tea would absorb those smells too. These types of tastes/smells of the tea are called the storage taste – cang wei. Under different storage conditions, same tea can taste very different.

Sometimes pu erh tea can taste like fish which could mean that it was stored in unsanitary conditions.

Mellow and Smooth

After appropriate storage and aging of the tea, the taste of pu erh should be mellow and smooth. The liquor feels soft and silky in the mouth and the throat. Young pu erh might be smooth, but it’s rarely mellow. Experienced pu erh drinker would describe this taste of aged pu erh as “rice soup sensation”.

The Sweet Aftertaste "Hui Gan"

In Chinese, there is a term for the sweet aftertaste of tea "hui gan". If you are a tea drinker, it should be a familiar experience. Pu erh is made of the large-leaf variety from Yunnan Province which has a strong bitterness, but once the bitter sensation is gone, the sweet aftertaste appears in the mouth. Unlike other types of tea, the hui gan of pu erh is generally quite long-lasting. You can feel it down the throat rather than just on the tongue, people called it “hou yun”, means the “throat charm” of pu erh.

Hui yun and hui gan are considered important factors for good aging ability of tea cakes.


Normally, tea leaves from Lincang tea region have a heavy bitterness and those from Yiwu and Menghai are lighter (except for Banzhang and Bulang area). There are also variations in the bitterness. For example, Pu erh from Yiwu, Banzhang and Mengku is bitter but not sharp, and there is a balance between bitterness and astringency. Note that the bitterness is also related to the amount of tea, water temperature and the steeping time of the infusion.

Many pu erh collectors prefer to collect cakes that have a strong bitter taste, believing those cakes will age better over time. We don't really agree with this. Don't be fooled. Really bitter tea will stay really bitter no matter how long you age it. Based on our experience, cakes with good aftertaste (hui gan) and a thickness of flavour generally do better over time.

Smoky Taste

Fresh leaves were supposed to be dried in the sun, but during the cloudy days, they had to be dried with firewood, which caused the smoky taste. Another reason is that firewood was used during the process of stir fixation.

Whether the smoky taste is good or not is totally subjective. Some people think the smoky taste is unpleasant; others think it actually smells good and call it the “old tobacco flavour”. Their were times that such tea were really popular. Nowadays they're more a taste of the past.

Pu Erh Tea Preparation

Now that we've discussed the different aspects of how pu erh tea can taste, it's important to also prepare it carefully to draw out all these flavours. Watch the video below to see how pu erh is made gongfu style:

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 09:54:51 +0000
<![CDATA[Ashimei: The Female Tea Caravan Horse Rider]]> https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea/ashimei-the-female-tea-caravan-horse-rider.html From about a 1000 years ago horse and mule caravans carried tea along the Ancient Tea Horse Road. People and horses travelled on foot from Southern Yunnan all the way to Tibet and beyond China's borders. These journeys that could take up to 180 days and were mainly a task for men. The caravan leader had to deal with the risk of mudslides, the health of the horses, extreme weather situations, and negotiate with bandits.

Yet, one female horse rider rose up to the challenge when she was just 16 and dedicated 50 years of her life on the caravan road. This legendary female rider's name is Ashimei. The story goes that she cut her hair and dressed up like a man to embark on her first journey. Eventually she became a caravan chief when she was 50. She owned 300 horses and had 100 drivers working for her.

Her achievements should be remembered not just because it was unusual for a female to be a horse rider at that time, let alone a caravan leader. She also managed to run the largest and most profitable caravan.

Nobody knows for sure why she was so successful. But one thing is for sure, she must have taken good care of her horses and planned her trips with more attention to detail than any other.

Some believe the Ancient tea horse road wasn't the most difficult challenge of her life, but to give up on love and family. As a saying goes:

For women, this road is a path of internal suffering and love hanging in their lives.
For men, this road was a path of life and death hanging on the cliffs.

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Note: In some folk tales the story goes that Ashimei eventually found her love and moved to Myanmar. This however, isn't confirmed by historians.

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 10:06:09 +0000