Pu-erh is definitely my favorite variety of tea. “Pu’er” (普洱), is a black tea that undergoes microbial fermentation after the leaves have been dried and rolled, often into cakes known as tuocha or “bird’s nest”. Relatively unknown in the west outside of tea houses, pu-erhs achieve a much harsher, bitter flavor and texture sometimes reminiscent of dirt. Of course, this is Yunnan, China dirt we’re drinking so it’s immaculate. The very best pu-erhs will entice the senses and transport your mind to feudal China, if you’ll excuse the hyperbole. It’s not uncommon to see pu-erh combined with chocolate as this often results in a kind of chocolate cake-like consistency.
Today I’m drinking The Republic of Tea‘s Coconut Pu-erh. Thankfully Republic of Tea is easily available in loose leaf at Whole Foods and other large grocers and often isn’t as expensive as Rishi, but nearly as good. Since I have a wheat allergy, I simply adore coconut and it’s usually the first thing I put in my self-serve yogurt. Coconut is often combined with greens and black teas, sometimes as a cutter if the tea happens to be decaf. This pu-erh is well scented and reminds one of being in a bamboo grove (we actually have one in Ann Arbor and it’s my favorite place to meditate). The flavor is subtle for a pu-erh with a hint of coconut to smooth out the edges. A real treat!