Understanding Temperature and its Importance in Pu-erh Tea Production and Storage

Pu-erh tea, a fermented tea produced in Yunnan, China, requires appropriate temperature for its growth, processing, and storage. In this article, we will explore the relationship between pu-erh tea and temperature to provide helpful insights.

Pu-erh Tea Growth and Temperature

Yunnan large leaf species, a well-bred tea species grown in Yunnan, is the best material for pu-erh tea. The temperature plays a crucial role in pu-erh tea growth. Both soil and air temperatures have a close relationship with pu-erh tea growth. The optimum growth temperature for most pu-erh trees is 20-30℃, but too high or too low would be disadvantageous for them. Large leaf tea species cannot grow normally under the temperature below 0℃, and temperatures falling to -5℃ or more lower can easily injure or kill them. Therefore, Yunnan’s mountainous terrain provides advantageous climatic conditions for pu-erh tea cultivation.

Pu-erh Tea Processing and Temperature

Even if you have high-quality fresh tea leaves, they may not yield good results if processed with bad techniques under adverse conditions such as improper temperature. The temperature controlling becomes more crucial when going into processing steps (withering, de-enzyming, rolling). For example, freshly picked tea leaves piled into stacks waiting to be withered can be damaged by the inner constantly increasing heat and become useless. Maintaining temperature to a reasonable level is a priority in the fermenting process of making ripe tea. Excessive high or low temperature can burn or result in incompletely fermented tea leaves.

It is equally important to control the temperature when storing or processing pu-erh crude teas that will become compressed pu-erh tea. Excessive temperature can lead to broken bits due to excessive water evaporation in crude teas. Ripe teas may need to be “washed” with water or steam to add tenacity.

Water Temperature for Brewing

Different teas need different water temperatures to brew, and it is crucial to know the right temperature to avoid a bitter or insipid taste. The recommended brewing method, including water amount, brewing temperature, and brewing time, can be found on the package or internet. Water temperature can significantly affect tea taste and flavor. Very hot water can steep out more minerals, enhancing tea aroma and enriching mouthfeel. However, it depends on personal taste and tea type. Some high-grade pu-erh tea made of tender leaves can be scalded by very hot water, while other pu-erh tea or compressed tea made with slightly elder tea can be brewed with boiling water.

Storage Temperature for Pu-erh

Storing pu-erh tea in the refrigerator is a common misconception. To keep pu-erh tea in good condition for a long time, it is better to store them under room temperature (20~30℃) and away from daylight. High storage temperature (above 30℃) can accelerate normal fermentation speed and degrade quality. Regardless of where and when, pu-erh tea should be kept away from sunlight.

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