Puerh tea is a variety of fermented (oxidized) tea traditionally produced in Yunnan Province, China. In the context of traditional Chinese tea production terminology, fermentation refers to microbial fermentation and is typically applied after the tea leaves have been sufficiently dried and rolled. As the tea undergoes controlled microbial fermentation, it also continues to oxidize, which is also controlled, until the desired flavors are reached. Two subtle differences worth noting are that Puerh is not produced from the small-leaf Chinese varietal but the broad-leaf varietal mostly found in the southern Chinese provinces. The second is that Puerh leaves are picked as one bud and 3-4 leaves whilst green tea is picked as one bud and 1-2 leaves. This means that older leaves contribute to the qualities of Puerh tea.
Ripened or aged raw Puerh tea has occasionally been mistakenly categorized as a subcategory of black tea due to the dark red color of its leaves and liquor. However, Puerh in both its ripened and aged forms has undergone secondary oxidization and fermentation caused both by organisms growing in the tea and free-radical oxidation, thus making it a unique type of tea. This divergence in production style not only makes the flavor and texture of Puerh tea different, but also results in a rather different chemical makeup of the resulting brewed liquor. Preparation – use 4 grams for 10 ounces water and steep for 6 minutes at 212 F (boiling water).