South to the majestic Wu Liang Mountains 无量山, a part of the Heng Duan Mountain range 横断山脉 and situated next to the gentle streams of Lin Cang river 临沧江, the ancient city called Pu'er 普洱 flourishes still today. Most time of the year fog and clouds embracing the city, which is well known for its plentiful agricultural products.   

Where does Pu-erh Tea come from?

Qianlong Emperor 乾隆帝 25 September 1711 – 7 February 1799

Qianlong Emperor 乾隆帝 25 September 1711 – 7 February 1799

During the Qian Long 乾隆 period (1735 - 1796) of the Qing dynasty, a locally famous tea shop named Pu was appointed to send tea as a tribute to emperor Qian Long for many years. In one year the Pu family was asked to carry out this honour, but the old Mr. Pu was ill, so his only son took over the job of delivering the tea to Bei Jing 北京 together with the local government official named Mr Lou.
Already behind the schedule, young Pu with his lack of experience rushed to the dry storage rooms. He pressed Maocha into cake shape, unfortunately the leaves where not fully dried when he started his journey to Bei Jing.

After a 18 days trek, they reached Kun Ming 昆明, when they continued their journey to Beijing which normally takes three months, but still being behind schedule they were caught by the hot and humid rain season, making the road conditions even worse.

How Ripe or Shu Pu-erh Tea was discovered?

Nevertheless they arrived in an accommodation after 100 days. The hotel owner was from very curious nature, not only found out the honourable mission of young Pu and Lou, but asked for a warped cake of tea. Later that day he cut off a small piece and when he poured the hot water onto the tea, the tea soup became deep red and bright. After tasting the tea he felt very comfortable and calmed as well as noticing the special flavour. A bit of bitterness in the beginning but followed by sweet after taste. Never experiencing such a taste of tea, he thought the bitter to sweet taste change should be the reason, why this tea is delivered to the emperor Qian Long.
Meanwhile young Pu and Lou rested and were not in the mood to explore Bei Jing. The following day young Pu opened a tea cake and panicked, when saw the tea cakes colour changed from green to brown shades. He felt desperate: "I destroyed the tea for the emperor, now my whole family will suffer, as well as our several generation of tea merchant will be eliminated." The more he thought the more scared he was. Finally he decided to commit suicide; in this way at least he can keep his last dignity. When he hang up himself, Lou came and saved him. But after Lou saw the cake he understood Pu and wanted to kill himself, too.
At this moment the hotel owner stopped them and asked: "Why you Yun Nan 云南 people are so strange. You delivered this tea thousands of kilometres far away and now you even didn't handed over to the emperor, already want to commit suicide. This is really weird."
Lou answered: "You don't understand. We destroyed the emperor's tea, sooner or later we will be kill."
"How come? The tea is really delicious. You can taste by yourselves." The owner said and offered a cup of their tea.
Pu and Lou explored the thick soup and instantly felt relaxed. Such a delicious bitter - sweet taste they never experienced before. They pulled up themselves again and thought: "Anyway, if we don't deliver the tea, we will be killed too. so tomorrow we shall deliver this tea the emperor Qian Long."

How Ripe or Shu Pu-erh Tea tastes?

How Ripe Shu Pu-erh Tea tastes?

The emperor is quite an experienced tea drinker, can distinguish which water is suitable for making tea and which tea can be considered as good. Among the tribute tea is West lake Long Jing, Yellow Mountain Mao Feng, Liu'an Gua Pian, Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun and so on. All these tea have beautiful fat buds with one leaf, as well as a clear jade green soup colour. Qian Long inspects all the soup colours and cannot decide for a favourite, when he saw the bright red cup, which reminds him of the special moonlight during some autumn nights.
He asked his servant to take this tea for him, after drinking one mouth, he just felt a strong flavour arriving his heart combined to a unbelievable smooth taste. He asked: "What is this tea? How the taste can be so delicious?"
At this moment, Mr. Luo was too nervous to answer, the servant helped and told about its origin. After several cups with subordinates and their positive comments, young Pu and Luo should this tea every year.
Tremendously happy Pu and Luo left the palace, they picked up the rest of the cake form their accommodation and headed back to Pu'er.
From this year on it became a habit in the palace to drink Shu Pu-erh during winter and Green tea in summer.

 

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Posted
AuthorCha Shifu