What does Pu Erh tea taste like? How to make it taste better?

pu erh tea

Pu Erh tea has been tagged with many different taste comparisons. There are some people who like it a lot, and others do the otherwise.  There are some various explanations of how does the Pu Erh tea taste like.  We have written a lot of useful and factual information to guide you about the tea’s actual taste. Check out the article as we also share some tips on how to make it taste better!

Pu Erh tea is a type of fermented tea that originated in China. Manufacturers of the tea use the natural oxidation process which gives it a lot of distinct taste. These tastes could be: 

  • Sweet with a mellow mood taste
  • Sour with an earthy and watery taste
  • Bitter with a floral touch flavor
  • Smoky flavor

There might be a lot of contrasting flavors, the tea taste is highly dependent on the type and the way the Pu Erh tea is prepared. Just like any other teas, it has that soothing texture but sometimes has bitter to earthy flavors that only a few people appreciate. This type of tea is also naturally changing its flavor over time. So if you didn’t like it the first time, don’t throw it right away.  Just store it and wait for its natural aging process to make the flavor improve!

We know that this is a lot of information.  But keep on reading as we breakdown this information to a more in-depth explanation. We will be discussing the different tastes of the Pu Erh tea one by one.

Sweet with a mellow mood taste

Pu Erh tea has a sweet and mellow taste if it is properly aged. An aged pu erh tea or what they also call as “shu cha” has gone through the natural aging process. This process makes the aroma arise and removes the bitterness. You can actually tell that tea is sweet right from its smell. If you can smell a fruity scent from the tea bag or from your tea caddy, the pu erh should give you a sweet and mellow taste. This often reminds me of berry-infused teas just like the ones we can commercially buy on markets.  The only difference is that the pu erh has natural sweetness as compared with other teas.

Sour with an earthy and watery taste

The sour taste of this tea could be associated with its rawness. Raw Pu Erh tea has its natural sourness. As mentioned, its flavors work as a fruit. If the tea has been processed raw, it has a sour and earthy taste. The composition should also be watery or thin. Unlike when the tea has been processed ripe, it should give you a flavor which is otherwise. This type of flavor of the tea might be tangy, but I can say that this works perfectly after eating something salty! The sour flavors also make me feel that the natural flavors are refreshing when mixed with ice. Of course, that works for me, because I love drinking cold tea mixes sometimes!

Bitter and flowery flavors

Most of the times, this type of teas has been tagged as a “bitter tea.” This type of flavor could be traced from its origin.  Tea leaves which are harvested from the Lincang tea region have a heavily bitter taste. Not only that tea leaves from the region are bitter, but also, the region remains as one of the top pu erh tea producer in the world. Sometimes the bitterness is associated with a flowery or sharp flavor too!  This is because some manufacturers include other parts of the plant such as flowers and stems in producing the tea. Many people dislike this type of tea flavor, but I swear, this works perfectly with sweets! Based on experience, having a sweet slice of cake, and a cup of this bitter pu erh tea would make you feel a lot of wonderful things!

Smoky Taste

Some Pu Erh tea is also having its distinct and smoky taste. This type of tea flavor comes from the way how the tea preparation has been done. The usual process manufacturers use is the natural sun drying method which makes use of the natural sunlight. While on the other hand, during the rainy season, these manufacturers make use of fire to dry the tea.  The smoke from the firewood they used is being fixed and added with the natural flavors that the pu erh tea has. This type of flavor might is highly subjective. Others compare it with an old tobacco aroma, which will not definitely work for tea lovers who are non-smokers.

These flavors might taste unusual to some, but of course still, work for other people. The best thing to do whatever the flavor is, you can do some ways on how to improve the taste. Here are some ways you can check!

Age it naturally

If the pu erh tea is too bitter, you can age it naturally. You can store the tea on a jar with a net cover for it to ripen over time with the use of natural air drying.  Over time, the tea will become darker and sweeter because of the natural aging process. Experts say that the best time to consume pu erh tea for sweet flavor if it has been aged for more than three years.

Steep it into different temperatures

Temperatures play a vital role in a tea’s natural flavor.  Steeping in higher temperatures may result in a bitter taste, and steeping into lower temperatures may result to lighter taste. The best temperatures to play around with steeping is between 80-100 degrees Celcius. You can also adjust the steeping time depending on your flavor of preference. This procedure will surely make the pu erh tea taste better.

Rinse before brewing

Rinsing the tea could help in improving its flavors. This process makes a better-tasting tea especially if it tastes smoky.  If the tea is in a tea bag, you just have to remove it from the storage and put it in a net. The same process should be done if the tea is loose.  Once all is ready,  you can just rinse it using a tap cold water.  The smoky flavor will be rinsed over by the running tap water. Don’t worry about the natural flavors it has, it will not be stripped away. Just make sure that the water you will use for rinsing is in good cold temperature. Do this before the first brew.

Mix it with other herbs and flavorings

Sometimes if we cannot just change the flavors of the pu erh tea, one of the best ways to make it taste better is by adding some herbs. The tea infusion is an old tradition being practiced all over the world. Some of the best infusions are:

  • chrysanthemum and other flowers: flowers could neutralize flavors of the pu erh tea. It makes the taste of the tea more soothing and refreshing.
  • dried fruits: if you want a fruity and rich flavor on your pu erh tea, you can add dried fruits like berries, citrus and any fruits that you love. Just make sure that the dried fruits are cut into tiny pieces to make the infusion more effective
  • honey and candies: for added sweetness, you can add natural honey. If you are feeling extra, you can use your favorite hard candy!

There are so many flavors associated with the pu erh tea! Just always remember that the tea flavor depends on many different factors. It could be the preparation type, the origin, and even the age of the tea harvested. Some flavors might taste unusual, but there are also so many ways on how to improve and enjoy it!  All you have to do is to know more about the tea you are buying. Once you have a piece of good knowledge about it, you will be able to play with it, and discover more ways on how to make it taste better!

As they say “There are those who love to get dirty and fix things. They drink coffee at dawn, beer after work. And those who stay clean, just appreciate things. At breakfast, they have milk and juice at night. There are those who do both, they drink tea.”
-Gary Snyder

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