Pile-fermentation: The Catalyst that Creates Shou Puer

Story by Hongkuan Huang, courtesy of Puer Magazine Photos by Ulumochi (unless otherwise noted)   Pile-fermentation is a modern technique to enhance microbial activity that is the secret to producing Shou Puer. The 45-day process involves moistening large stacks of sun-dried raw tea leaves. The leaves are piled high and carefully monitored to produce a dark composted tea that is pressed into cakes and sold in round bamboo containers. [caption id="attachment_3588" align="alignn

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7 thoughts on “Pile-fermentation: The Catalyst that Creates Shou Puer

  1. Thank you for this in-depth explanation, and helpful photos.
    Still many ‘mysteries’ left within this process….
    Good Shou is easy to taste, hard to find.
    With the advent of ‘plantation Puerh’ (sic) Shou Puerh is flooding the market.
    Seed grown, Tree Tea Puerh is still the real deal, and superior to bush Puerh.
    Studying the process is going to help a lot of people understand Puerh more.
    And hopefully lead to greater awareness of Tree vs. Bush Puerh….

    1. Absolutely – many connoisseurs set their eyes on wild trees but it is really difficult to source from growers consistently even if you have a trustworthy business relationship – they are just too popular. By ‘plantation’ or ‘bush’ puer, I assume you are referring to trees that has been planted in large quantity for commercial harvest, which are locally referred as small-tree tea. Within this category, you have basin-area plantation (‘taidi’ or ‘bazi’) tea and high-mountain plantation (‘shantou’) tea. Most high-mountain trees are still plantation/bush tree, and within all the high-mountain trees, the most desired are big-tree tea or ancient-tree (‘gushu’) tea (2-5m tall), then old-tree (‘laoshu’) tea (wild trees undergo dwarfing procedure), and then high mountain plantation (the majority of organic puer are from this category; planted in tight rows). Big-tree or ancient tree teas are the only type that is not small tree tea. The growing area of big-tree region is only a fraction of 7% of all tea growing regions in Yunnan.

      In the upcoming Aug Harvest Review issue, our taster based in Kunming has in fact chosen big-tree Puer from Yiwu region to be his personal favorite.

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