Many people have heard and tasted pu’er, but how many of us know the beauty behind pu’er. While most of us may only be exposed to pu’er tea at Chinese restaurants, it’s actually a high-quality tea that some even purchase as investments!
OVP, a local pu’er specialist, is determined to change your mind about this tea by making good quality tea available at affordable prices. We sat down with Christopher, Tea Master of OVP and ASME Entrepreneur Award Winner 2018, to find out more about him; his brand; and what makes pu’er so special from other teas.
I’ve heard that your hometown had lots of tea – did you grow up drinking tea or was it something you discovered later in life?
I’ve been drinking tea since I was a child, but it wasn’t pu’er. We drank all kinds of Chinese Tea. Tea-time in my family was closely associated with family bonding – my dad and I enjoy chatting over a pot of tea. To this day, the smell of tea evokes memories of good times with my family.
Why did you choose to focus on pu’er?
From my experience, pu’er is the final destination of a tea lover. When you start drinking tea, you first focus on aroma and mouthfeel. But as you develop your sense of taste, you crave for more. You begin to focus on the aftertaste and body effect, pu’er excels.
Raw pu’er tea is also just like life, it changes every day, month, and year. You may be brewing your favourite tea one day and discover that you don’t like the taste now, similar to the lows in life. You can put leave that tea aside, let it age a bit, and when you brew it again, you may discover a new love for that same tea – akin to when you experience one of the highs of life.
Why did you decide to put your love of pu’er into action and start OVP?
There was a day where I helped a customer pick the correct tea for him, and that’s when I realised I enjoy helping people to develop their love of tea. That’s why I started OVP. In addition, good pu’er is hard to find and tends to be out of the reach of the average consumer. I wanted to make good quality pu’er accessible to everyone, so OVP collects pu’er from the famous mountains every year to keep costs low.
Do you have any memorable interactions with a customer?
Once, there was a tea lover who came back and bought about $5,000 worth of tea cakes from me. I was a little curious so I asked him why – he told me that when he brewed the tea after work one day, the aroma attracted his children to come and sit around with him. He enjoyed his conversation with them so much that he came back to buy more tea for them. This reminded me of the magical moments of tea – the taste, aroma and family bonding.
I’ve heard that OVP teas are unique because they use arbor trees – what makes arbor trees so special when it comes to pu’er tea?
There are actually three types of tea – those made from plantation bushes, those made from arbor trees, and those from ancient tea trees. Plantation teas are bushes without a main branch. The height of the bushes are somewhere between the height of a human. They use fertilisers, chemicals and water pipes to increase productivity. But most importantly, the tea bushes are planted so closely to one another that every tea tree is fighting for nutrition. Teas made from plantation bushes only have aroma in front.
On the other hand, arbor trees are tea trees that are 60 to 99 years old with a main branch. They’re slightly taller than us and tend to be found in natural forests. The aroma of the teas made from arbor trees are full-bodied. Additionally, the taller the tree, the deeper the roots which can absorb more minerals and nutrition, which also means that the tea has more minerals.
Finally, we have ancient tea trees. Traditionally, ancient trees have to be at least 300 years old, but now the market classifies trees 100 years and above as ancient trees. The aroma from these trees are full-bodied and goes up to your throat. I’ve found that the older generation of tea drinkers enjoy the throat feeling – houyun – in these teas.
What would you recommend to someone who’s interested in trying a tea from OVP?
For a start, you can try our signature tea – Golden Moments, which has a smooth texture and aids in digestion. Alternatively, Fresh Fusion is one of our award-winning teas from the Global Tea Championship, and will help give a boost of energy. This is a raw pu’er tea that has been aged for 7 years in Singapore, and has a refreshing and fruity aroma, perfect for someone who wants a strong cup of tea.
What tips do you have for people who want to make good pu’er tea for themselves and their family?
Each tea has their own particular characteristics, but in general, you should brew ripe pu’er in freshly boiled water (100 degrees). The taste and aroma of the tea shall escalate to the next level if uses boiled water from a tetsubin. For raw pu’er that’s very new, you should wait 30 seconds to one minute after the water is boiled until it’s cooled down to 90 degrees. If you’re drinking aged raw pu’er, you should also use freshly boiled water as well.
#teapasarrecommends: Old Village Puer Classic Collection
Enjoy the different OVP teas and discover your favourite tea! This collection consists of 5 of OVP’s best blends – Golden Moments, Fresh Fusion, Enchanted Beauty, Black Classic and Sweet Sixteen.