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Pu erh is the only tea that improves with age. Chinese tea farmers process, ferment, and sell it at high prices. Once processed, the tea is packed into disks called tea cakes or bings and left to age in dark spaces. As a pu erh ages, its flavor changes, becoming mellower and sweeter. 

In the 1970s, a method for speeding up the aging process of pu erh was developed. This method involves wetting the tea leaves to encourage fermentation. The leaves are then stored in piles in a controlled environment- with a certain level of humidity before yielding the final product weeks later.

Pu erh can be classified as two types: raw and ripe. A raw pu erh is one that hasn't been fermented using this new method. A ripe pu erh is one that has been fermented using this sped up method. You may also see them referred to as green (raw) and black (ripe) pu erh. Some of the most expensive teas in the world are raw pu erhs that have been aged naturally.

"Pu-erh is the Helen of Troy of tea that gets aged like whiskey, dosed like drugs, and coveted by millionaires. And it only comes from this one mountainous corner of China."


The birthplace of pu erh tea

Pu erh tea comes from Yunnan province in the South Western region of China. This province has some unique characteristics that make pu erh tea so vlauable and tasty:

ALTITUDE. High altitudes encourage slower growth, which is very beneficial for the flavor of tea. When tea grows more slowly, it allocates resources to smaller and older tea buds instead of using them to grow new leaves. Those smaller buds have a more complex and pleasant taste.

TREES. This region is known for having tea trees. Many large tea farms are composed of tea bushes because they are younger plants, easier to harvest from, and produce more tea. However tea trees yield unique and good-quality leaves. 

SOIL AND NEARBY PLANTS. Tea leaves are very absorbent and their flavor can be influenced by aromatic neighboring plants. Tea trees have long roots that pull minerals and other nutrients from surrounding plants.


Learn how oolong tea is harvested and processed from Don at Mei Leaf.



GRASS/HAY. Raw pu erhs are grassy and may remind someone of a green tea, especially when a tea is young.

EARTH. As a raw pu erh ages, it takes on an earthier flavor. However, you may not taste any earthiness unless the tea has been aged for 20+ years.


EARTH. Ripe pu erhs are earthy. Many people say that pu erh reminds them of mud and forest soil.

LEATHER. Certain pu erhs will have a leather or animal flavor. This is something that you can smell in the tea as well as taste.

DRIED FRUIT. Good quality pu erhs will have a natural sweetness to them that tastes like dried fruits. 

Other flavors you may experience are smoke, hay, and tobacco. 


Pu erh has fewer anti-oxidants than other types of tea because of the fermentation process. However, it has many benefits that can't be found in other teas:

1. Detox and digestion: pu erh is a detox tea so it is great as a hangover cure or to drink after a greasy meal.

2. Cholesterol: this tea has positive effects on cholesterol levels, lowering the amount of bad (LDL) cholesterol. 

3. Fat (hyperlipidemia): this tea regulates lipids in the blood stream. This means that pu erh can help prevent fat build up.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


When you drink certain teas, you may experience a sensation of dizziness, euphoria, and relaxation. This effect is known as getting tea drunk. Pu erh tea is specifically known for causing this tea drunk effect. There are different theories to explain what causes this sensation. One of the theories is that the amino acid L-Theanine found in tea is a strong relaxant, and paired with the effects of caffeine makes you feel alert but extremely relaxed, or "tea drunk."

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