Pu’er tea consists of two completely different categories. One is called ‘Raw Pu’er Tea’ and the other is ‘Ripe Pu’er Tea’. Raw Pu’er tea has a very long history and it was the tea traded through The Ancient Tea Route. Raw Pu’er tea is also a tea for which many collectors search enthusiastically. In freshly produced raw Pu’er tea, this form of the leaf is called Mao-cha and the leaf is yellowish-green. Pu’er raw tea is a semi-fermented tea.
Ripe Pu’er has a much shorter history compared to raw Pu’er. Ripe Pu’er was developed in 1973-1974 at the Kunming Tea Factory with reference to the process of ancient dark tea, such as Fuzhuan Cha, that is produced by mould fermentation. While the tea undergoes fermentation, the mould produces a certain organic acid that causes the pH of the tea to reduce, resulting in a complete fermentation within a much shorter duration. Hence, the colour of the tea leaves changes to dark brown and produces a mellow taste with thick body. The good quality ripe Pu’er gives out a flavour like dried Chinese dates. In overseas markets, ripe Pu’er is generally more popular.