In our previous two posts, we talked about some of the more common types of tea – such as black teas, green teas and oolongs – as well as some rarer teas, such as yellow teas. In today’s post, we’ll continue our tea talk, as well as introduce dark teas and tisanes.
Most people have heard of Pu’erh (which we’ll talk more about later), but have you heard about dark tea? Dark tea is actually the broader category that Pu’erh belongs to, and it essentially refers to tea that has been post-fermented.
Ordinarily, if your tea grew mouldy, you’d throw it away. For dark tea however, this ‘mould’ helps to ferment the tea, making it taste more mellow and reducing its astringency and bitterness. Dark teas age well, and are probiotic. To prepare dark tea, use a little more leaf per cup than other teas (e.g. 5g instead of 3g), and steep for 4-6 minutes. Dark teas can be re-steeped for multiple infusions.
One interesting dark tea available on teapasar is the Golden Flowers tea, which is made in two different provinces of China and has a lovely vanilla note. View all dark teas here.
Much like champagne or Darjeeling, Pu’erh is location-specific – if it’s not made in one of the 639 villages in Yunnan, it’s not considered Pu’erh. If you’re looking to reap the health benefits of tea, you should look into Pu’erh because it is believed to aid weight loss and reduce cholesterol. Additionally, because this is an aged tea, the longer the teas age, the mellower, sweeter, and smoother the tea.
Pu’erh can be further subdivided in two ways:
- Raw: This type of Pu’erh is actually a green tea because it has not been fully fermented (read more about green tea in Part 1 of this series). Instead, it’s starting on its fermentation journey. Raw Pu’erh is slightly more bitter, with a strong vegetal flavour. However, as it ages, this bitterness is replaced with a subtle sweet, earthy aroma. This aroma and flavour is so prized that some people even buy raw pu’erh as an investment!
- Aged: If you’ve dined at a Chinese restaurant, you’ve probably had aged Pu’erh. These teas are earthy, with a mellow taste, after undergoing a ‘pile fermentation process’ and storage. Unlike raw Pu’erh, aged Pu’erh has had the fermentation process sped up, resulting in a tea that can be drunk immediately.
Tea Chapter has a Aged Pu’erh that has been aged for 18 years, giving it a sweet and mellow yet full-bodied taste. Alternatively, Infusion-de-vie’s Chenpi Pu’erh is a premium palace-grade Pu’erh from Yunnan, paired with Chenpi harvested from Xinhui, an area famous for producing the most fragrant peel due to its unique oils, in a special breed of teas only found in this district.
Pu’erh is also commonly paired with citrus fruits, such as this Mandarin Orange Pu’erh from Yixing Xuan – the mellow and smooth taste of the Pu’erh is complemented by the zest from the orange peel.
Strictly speaking, these aren’t actually teas because they aren’t made with the tea plant – camellia sinesis. Tisanes are either herbal teas made of plants such as chamomile or mulberry, fruit infusions, or a mix of both!
Interestingly enough, after the Boston Tea Rebellion, American families drank something known as “liberty teas” which were herbal tea blends. They were called “liberty teas” because Americans wanted to have their tea time without drinking British teas, where were the more traditional, caffeinated teas.
Herbal and fruit tisanes are so popular they even have their own categories on teapasar.com! Herbal tisanes also often come with a host of benefits due to the ingredients used in these blends. For example, Bodhi Organic Tea has a range of herbal tisanes, such as Invigorating – an award-winning blend that contains super herbs ginger and turmeric, both powerful anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants. This blend received a gold medal at the International Tea Expo 2018. For a Chinese take on herbal teas, Replenish is a nourishing blend of snow fungus, fresh honeysuckle blossoms and sweet oriental red dates.
Fruit tisanes are often a delicious treat – with none of the guilt! These are also great as cold-brews (read more about how you can make the perfect jug of cold brewed tea here). We love The Kitticorn, a blend of white chocolate-dipped pineapples, apples and raspberries, which turn into a rich purple-blue hue due to its butterfly pea flowers.
As tisanes do not contain the tea plant, these are naturally caffeine-free and hence a great beverage for any time of day.