Dark Tea / Heicha
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There are many legends on origin of Puer. One of them goes like this:
Long ago the city of Puer became a starting point of the famous Tea-horse road that connected Yunnan province with inner mainland of China and neighboring countries.
On one of the endless caravans to Tibet on the curvy mountain road one bag accidentally fell out of the wagon. A few years later a traveler discovered it and decided to make a tea from the leaves found in that bag. Infusion gave black color liquor with a mild earthy flavor that surprised the traveler and thus accidentally aged tea leaves became the basis for the production of new style tea – Puer.
Actually there is a reason to be surprised – the tea leaf exposed to temperature and humidity variations during several years should had been decomposed well before it was found by the traveler. On the contrary, it became a lovely mild drink with unique earthy flavor not found in any of the traditional green or any other style teas. How could that happen?
The clue is in the special process that naturally occurs in Yunnan origin large-leaf several tea bush varieties: Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica, Camellia Taliensis, Camellia Crassico-lumna, Camellia tachangensis and others.
This process is called fermentation – microbial activities that make critical contribution to the final bio-chemical character of Puer teas. These microbes are largely common fungal organisms.