Like a fine wine, the taste of a Pu-erh tea only improves as it ages. Not only does the flavor get more refined, it also transforms, and through four periods of fermentation, takes on several different distinct flavors. Generally speaking, this is how the flavor changes during those four periods:
Aroma, Sweetness, Mellowness, Thickness and Smoothness are the five areas in which Pu-erh teas are compared. Much of the time, people get to know Pu-erh tea through ripe Pu-erh. They begin to drink Pu-erh because of its mellowness. Thus, mellowness is very crucial. That mellow taste comes from the pilling process in the first period. This period lasts for the first 3-5 years after the ripe Pu-erh is pressed.
After the fifth year of being pressed,the complex flavor and the smoothness will begin to suggest a more mature tea. During this period of about 8-10 years, the tea loses its dryness, which is replaced by a smooth, refreshing quality.
After 15-20 years storage, the pressed ripe tea is divided into two types of storage. South storage (being stored in places such as Guangzhou or Hongkong) and Yunnan storage. Yunnan storage tends to thicken the rice aroma of ripe pu-erh, and to cultivate a more attractive, mellow flavor. Meantime, the south storage Pu-erh teas generally have a ginseng scent or a slight herbal medicine aroma.
If a pressed Pu-erh tea is stored for over 20 years, it excels in all five standards and develops a strong pleasant aroma and lends itself to a very satisfying drinking experience. At this point, it’s called an antique tea, which is very hard to come by. Denong Tea's Elegance of Time is one prime example of these drinkable antiques.
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