Key Elements for Puerh Tea Quality

Five key points which determine Pu-erh tea’s quality: origin place, years of tea trees, picking time, level and storage method.


The high quality Puerh should use the Yunan Large-leaf variety. The main traditional Puerh production areas are Xishuangbanna, Pu’er (Simao), Lincang and Baoshan. The tea from different area has different characteristic. And each place also has their own representative places, for example, the representative places in Lingcang are: Fengqing and Mengku.

The quality of tea tress

Although all the Puerh tea trees are Yunnan Large-leaf tea trees variety, this variety also has many subcategories. There are many ways to distinguish the tea trees. In order to understand easily, we can judge the quality by the age of the trees. The older the tea tree is, the deeper the root is, so it can absorb more nutrient and mineral substance which can ensure the high quality of the tea. Generally speaking, the 60 years old tea tree (also called big tea tree 大树茶) is better than the 30 years old tea tree (also called arbor tea tree 乔木茶) which is better than 10 years old or less than 10 years old tea tree (also called tableland tea tree 台地茶). Of course, there are also some tea trees more than hundred years old which is quite rare.

Picking time

For big tea tree, the Spring tea and Autumn tea both have their own characteristic which are better than Summer tea.
For tableland tea tree, the Spring tea is the best, then Autumn tea, Summer tea is the worst

The grade of tea leaves

The thick branches and big leaves don’t mean it is bad quality. Usually the grade only means the tenderness of the maocha. It can be divided into ten grades by the tenderness. The super grade is the most tender which contains tiny buds with golden tips. The worst is the tenth grade which contains big leaves with stalk. The appearance of higher grade maocha is elegant and the also contains more inclusions. But the higher grade also has bitter taste. The lower grade taste roughly and clearly, and also contains much fragrant which make the tea rich taste. So it is better to choose puerh by the taste you like but not only focus on the grade.

Storage time

Under the condition of dry storage, the taste changes with the length of time it stored; the longer it stored, the better it tastes. With fine Pu-erh tea, the longer it is stored and aged, as long as it is stored properly, the more complex the flavor and the more valuable the tea gets. But it need to note that it is under the condition of good place, tea tree and proper picking time, it can’t be only emphasis the storage time but ignore the tea inner quality.

Besides the above factors, there are also some other aspects which can affect the puerh quality like the tea process.

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