Hardly known outside Asia until now, Pu’er has been greatly prized since the Tang Dynasty, over a thousand years ago. It is valued for its intriguing, full bodied, earthy, slightly sweet flavour, as well as its reputed health benefits.
Pu’er is particularly appreciated in China after a heavy meal and has been revealed by Victoria Beckham as one of her ‘Slimming Secret’s’. Jerry Hall and Joss Stone also reputedly drink this tea.
Pu’er grows in the Yunnan province, of South West China. It’s semi fermented, but even today the process is a closely kept secret, with outsiders permitted by law to witness only the final pressing into cakes.
The Pu’er cakes (large or small discs or bowl shapes), were considered so valuable that they were once used as currency, particularly for trading horses with the fierce tribes north of the Great Wall of China. Today the cakes are bought speculatively as they are said to improve with age, like fine wine or malt whisky.