Puerh

puerhPuerh was my dad’s favorite tea with dim sum and it wasn’t because of it’s taste.  It’s deep, earthy quality is definitely an acquired taste.  I learned that he drank it because it cut the oil and aided digestion. I couldn’t get past the smell.

Puerh tea is made from broad leaf camellia sinensis found in Yunnan province, China.  Typically, the tea is formed into flat cakes which makes for easy storing.  Most puerh on the market come in pressed form but there is also loose leaf puerh.  “Raw” puerh brews a milder cup with yellow-golden hues.  “Ripe” puerh undergoes a fermentation process in which microbial activity changes the composition of the tea and yields a dark, sinister tasting cup.  That’s what dad drank!

Like scotch and whiskey, aged puerh is more expensive the longer it’s been stored.  People drink puerh religiously to reduce choloesterol.  English packaging says drinking puerh quickens recovery from fatique and intoxication.  Ah, hang over remedy…ancient Chinese secret.

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Uji-cha & Tea Pairing

I recently visited Uji City in Kyoto Prefecture to learn about their style of tea making.  My sensei or teacher is Tsuyoshi Sugimoto, 14th generation owner and tea master of Shohokuen Tea Company.  Shohokuen is the largest matcha producer and tea wholesaler in Kyoto Prefecture.

sugimoto

Uji is famous for producing gyokuro and matcha, two of the highest forms of Japanese tea.  Uji-cha uses shade to produce a unique flavor in the tea which is referred to as umami, the 5th flavor reminiscent of seaweed or soy sauce.

L to R: sencha and gyokuro

L to R: sencha and gyokuro

Japanese pair tea with food like it’s an art form.  Here sencha is paired with ume flavored mochi filled with sweet white bean paste called shiro an.

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Matcha or green tea powder makes a thick, strong “bowl” of tea which is traditionally served with a sweet side dish.  Here matcha is paired with a baked pastry called manju with sweet azuki bean filling.

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