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    Understanding the Difference between Raw Pu-erh Tea and Ripe Pu-erh Tea

    Pu-erh, which is tea that has a very unique shape, aroma, flavor, and appearance, is a great Chinese tea to check out.  When it comes to the tea in our daily lives, it actually makes a big difference.  It doesn’t matter if you are a female, male, child, or an adult the tea is good for you.  If you are looking for weight loss, having a nice figure, or lowering your blood pressure, it is for you.  On top of that, it has a great taste and flavor that makes it nice to drink.

    Yunnan is where this tea has been origin grown and processed.  The important thing to note is that this tea can be classified in two main categories: non-fermented and fermented tea.  The taste that you prefer will depend on the method of processing the tea that you want to purchase.  Generally as a rule of thumb, the more that it sits, the more valuable that it becomes.

    Raw Pu-erh (Puerh Sheng, Non-Fermented Tea)

    This is a tea that does not go through the piling process, which is called raw pu-erh, it is harvested and stored naturally.  With this style of tea, it has a very fresh smell to it, it can be bitter, but generally has a sweet aftertaste.

    Ripe Pu-erh (Puerh Shu, Fermented Tea)

    This tea does go through a piling process which causes it to be a bolder flavor.  This tea has a very mild flavor to it, as going through the piling process creates that.  It has a very earthy smell, and it is a more mellow tea, but it does have a thick flavor to it.  Because of the fermentation process, the leaves are actually a reddish-brown.

    Understanding the Difference

    See Table Below:

    TypeRaw PuerhRipe Puerh
    Cake, tuo cha, and compressed brick.
    Cake, tuo cha, compressed brick, and san cha.
    ProcessingProcessing involves taking fresh tea leave right after they are picked, storing them in a natural manner, and making them into a particular shape listed above. This is done with a sun drying process and a rolling process.Ripened tea is created through a piling process with puerh sheng. The process includes a sun drying process, a rolling and piling process, and molding it into a shape listed above.
    When you are processing the raw puerh tea the process is called shai qing mao cha. With the piling process it becomes the shu puerh which is ripened. Piling is a process that was started in 1973 in a factory in Kunming, if tea is listed as ripened before that date, it is not ripened and instead it is a raw method.
    Pack and StoreRaw tea: Fengqing Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2006 Paddy FlavorRipened Tea: Fengqing tribute Pu-erh Cake Tea 2007

    Storage: store using tea bags that allow it to get clean, dry air and avoid moisture.

    Storage: same method as puerh sheng
    Color for package: green for raw teaColor for package: deep brown or red
    Aroma flavorChestnut fragrance and buds fragrance.Mellow and earthy flavor with aroma.
    DryLeaves appear as dark green with brown and white tips that have stripes.The color is maroon and dark chestnut and can actually be referred to as a pig liver color.
    LiquorBright Yellow Dark Red Clear
    TasteThe taste has a strong fragrance that will help stimulate stomachs. It can also product saliva. This tea has a stronger flavor than green tea.After the piling process and the tea catechins, the bitter taste that it has reduces and it has a deep fragrance and a wonderful flavor.
    Yellow Green
    Dark Green
    Moist and Soft
    Whole leaf even after brewed
    loose Dark Color that is not soft or moist
    For youThis tea is great for weight loss and for stomach problems, be sure that you are checking it out.This tea will protect the stomach, it can also help with weight loss and it can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol problems.

    All the Best Tips

    You will find that with loose raw pu-erh you are getting a compressed tea. You should make sure to keep it at a consistent cool temperature, with a consistent low humidity levels, outside of direct light sources and airflow, with no strong odors or unpleasant odors in the air..

    With compressed pu-erh, you need to know how to store it. You want to make sure that it is convenient to store it, but that you are also doing it correctly so that it tastes the way that you want it to.

    With piling, the fermented tea will go through a piling process so that the leaves are able to dry up in the warehouse or wherever it is being processed. With piling, it will get strained with a certain amount of water, the more water, the faster the process goes and the softer that the tea leaves will get. Once this is done, you can drink the tea immediately.

    With Pu-erh tea, the packaging is generally two different colors, that is how people tell them apart and get to purchase the tea that they like. Red for compressed Ripe Pu-erh and green for compressed Raw Pu-erh.

    7 comments to Understanding the Difference between Raw Pu-erh Tea and Ripe Pu-erh Tea

    • Onari :


      Thank you for all of this information. I appreciate it very much. :)

      I have a beeng cha from 1998 (unknown maker) and it's black like the pictures for ripe pu-erh. It has a very earthy smell and flavor, with notes of alfalfa.

      I read on another site that having an earthy flavor is a bad thing and can be a sign that it was aged poorly. — I think that's wrong, because the 1998 pu-erh I mentioned is in perfect condition, was stored very carefully, and does have that smell and taste. On contrast, I have two beeng chas that were stored in poor conditions and while they do have a somewhat earthy smell, it's different — a little more moldy. They also look completely different. The leaves for the ones stored well are more vibrant and deep in color. The leaves for the ones stored poorly are warped in some places and you can see patches of mold (I have a magnifying glass that I used to verify that it was mold). On the good ones, there is no difference between the look of the outside and the inside when you break off a piece. On the bad ones, the outside looks different than the inside.

      I am going to discard the ones with mold on them just to be safe. And, the ones that look okay, I am keeping. That sounds right, don't you think? Also, since there is an earthy smell and taste with the ones that look fine, that should not be taken as a bad sign, right? I think that other site made a mistake. As you had said in your article, pu-erh do tend to have that earthy taste/smell. I have so many of them and they all have some degree of that smell. So, I think that the look of them is more of a sign of whether it's in good shape or not.

      Please share your thoughts with me if you have a chance. Thank you again for your article and your guidance. :)

    • TeaVivre response:


      Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

      According to your description, the pu'erh tea you have is ripe pu'erh, after been fermented, it will smell earthy and aged, but never moldy. If the tea stored poorly, it may go mouldy and not drinkable anymore.

      You can also brew them for comparison, the good tea has bright liquid, and smells aged aroma, but the bad tea will has stimulating smell.

      Hope these are helpful for you, and if you have any further questions please feel free to contact us.

    • Jiten Sheth :


      Good knowledge to understand ,I appreciate your hard work and thought of sharing to all

    • TeaVivre response:


      Thanks for your praise.
      I'm glad that our information is useful for you.
      Wish you have a nice day.

    • Debbie Martin :


      Thank you, very much for the information. I am new to tea drinking and received my first shipment of raw and ripe Pu-erh today. I am looking forward to enjoying my tea drinking.

    • TeaVivre response:


      Thanks for your appreciation.

      Hope you will enjoy your teas, and if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

    • Dee Sallows :


      the tea should be a process of love and meditation. You may obtain the desired results as a by-product of drinking it, but I believe the spiritual aspects come first.
      Love what you are, and become what you love.

    • Mazen :


      This was a really nice post.Thanks a lot for tainkg the time to provide such a nice and informative article. It has given me lots of inspiration. In reality I would like to write something like this also tainkg time and real effort to make a good article but what can I say I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get anything done

    • Steve Kasiaras :


      This article was somewhat helpful. I would like to see a real comparitive analysis of the medicinal differences between the two pu-erhs. I've been following your advice and am brewing 4.5 grams of sheng in 240cc water left overnight on a cup warmer. I take my supplements and meds with this as my "morning cup of medicine" primarily for weight loss. Maybe I should drink shu the rest of the day for my heart and vasculature. But a strong cup of raw pu-erh in the morning on an empty stomach makes sense.

    • TeaVivre response:


      Thank you.

    • Lu Neher :


      Very helpful article. I am enjoying my first experience with pu-erh teas.

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