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Dark teas (Pu Er)

Dark teas (Pu Er)

White teas, yellow teas, green teas, red teas, black teas... all come from the same and unique plant! Until the discoveries made by Robert Fortune in the second half of the 19th century, the different colours of teas were believed to correspond to different species of trees. But all teas indeed come from the same plant. It is the processing that makes the different and determine the "colour" of tea : white (the less processed teas), yellow, green, blue-green, red, black... The colour generally refers to the liquor resulting from the brewing of the leaves, rather than to the actual leaves. Mostly produced in China, "dark teas" are so called in reference to the dark brown colour of the liquor of the most famous amongst them, the cooked Pu Er. These are fermented teas (also called post-fermented teas), which is not the case with red teas, which are often described as fermented but are in fact oxidized. There are many other fermented teas, as the Japanese awabancha and goishicha. But the most famous dark teas remain the Chinese Da Ye (large leaves) Pu Er, produced in the province of Yunnan. The specificity of Pu Er results from a production method coming from ancient times and still in use today: the leaves are compressed in order to help them slowly improve and develop benefic health properties. The leaves first go through a phase of withering under the sun (for about twenty-four hours), then are sorted and packed. The producers sell these raw products to factories, which transform them in raw or cooked Pu Er. The leaves are compacted in flat cakes, birds nests, bricks, colocynthes... in order to facilitate their preservation and transportation. This family of teas is famous for its many health properties, acknowledged by science. Pu Er help lower cholesterol, improve digestion and blood circulation, or dispel the effects of alcohol. Pu Er are also said to have slimming properties, which is the main reason for their growing success in the West.