How Are Puer Cakes Made?

Where the Indentation in a Puer Cake Comes From

This brief under-two-minute educational video is packed with information. If you’ve ever wondered how puer tea cakes are made or just where that funny indentation comes from, then take a couple minutes to watch this video. The video takes off from the point where mao cha has been made, so if you’re wondering about the term mao cha or the process before the creation of the puer cake, then visit this page next where we review the history of puer tea, the origin of the term puer, how it gets made, as well as the difference between sheng puer, also known as green or raw puer, and shu puer, which is known as black puer or cooked puer. Also, check out the section where we provide some helpful tips for knowing how to judge the quality of a puer cake as well as why the “wild puer” cake is, in fact, largely a myth.

It may be helpful to know that all puer is made from mao cha. The production of mao cha can be outlined generally by the following steps:

  1. Picking: the general standard for both types of puer is one bud with two leaves. Puer is also more generally sought after if it is plucked during the spring.
  2. Withering: this is the initial step for removing moisture from the leaves and is an essential step before frying the leaves. Withering makes the leaves pliable. It can be done naturally by spreading the leaves out on a table or by machine where wind gets blown through the leaves.
  3. Frying: this arrests the oxidation that would normally occur and traditional methods involve a hot wok. Large rolling machines, in some cases, have replaced traditionally methods to create larger quantities of tea in a short amount of time.
  4. Rolling: the leaves get shaped during this part of the process and more moisture is removed.
  5. Sun Drying: in areas where puer is usually produced, this is a particularly problematic step since the area can be humid and subject to sudden weather changes. For this reason, canopy rooms are now often used in lieu of traditional methods of drying the tea leaves out under the sun on bamboo trays.
  6. Sorting: the desirable leaves for processing must be sorted from sprigs, broken leaves, and yellow leaves, or huang pian.

These steps produce the mao cha that is used to create sheng puer and shu puer, although shu puer has some additional steps involved that precede the creation of a shu puer cake.

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