Only high-quality leaves can age well, so careful selection of raw materials is extremely important to achieve a product that will acquire a richness and complexity of aromatic nuances on the nose and palate over time that no other tea can provide. During its youth, Pu'Er sheng is similar to green tea, with notes of fresh grass, spring and unripe fruit predominating and, depending on the area of origin, sometimes notes of flowery meadows and acacia honey, some other times more bitter notes but never astringent. During the manufacturing process Pu'Er undergoes post-fermentation, allowing it to acquire notes and fragrances that constantly change during the long ageing process.
The 'Shu' method was invented in the 1970s to accelerate the natural ageing process of Pu'Er and make a product accessible to the market that imitated the notes and fragrances of naturally aged Pu'Er. Loose leaves (Mao Cha) are piled for several days and kept moist by covering them with cloth. Through this technique of 'wet piling’ or Wo Dui in a controlled humidity environment, Pu'Er undergoes an accelerated fermentation process that makes it very dark and amber in colour and more mature and smoother in taste, with hints of autumn, ripe and dried fruit but without reaching the bouquet complexity of aged Sheng Pu'. Due to the induced fermentation process, Shu Pu'Er has a low caffeine content and is therefore also a suitable tea for the evening, helping to calm, warm and aid digestive processes!
China is full of tales of legendary and now unobtainable teas. Some aged Sheng Pu'Er certainly fall into this category and the few still on the market have now reached unapproachable prices. Many come from old tea gardens or individual plants that no longer exist, or from rare Camellia varieties whose production is limited to a few dozen kilos per year. A naturally aged Pu'Er vibrates the senses, widens the heart, and expands the mind. The long post-fermentation process makes these teas intense in colour, with dark garnet to brown tones, and on the nose and palate with notes that are vigorous and persistent yet silky and sweet. Youthful notes disappear and give way to a smooth harmony in the mouth, with notes ranging from wood to old books, underbrush, ripe fruit and pomegranate, sometimes liquorice. It is difficult to describe the complexity that an aged Pu'Er can achieve... You can only taste it to understand its magnificence!