How to Brew Pu Erh (Aged Tea)

Whether you are brewing raw or ripe aged tea, you will follow many of the same basic principles. Aged teas may come in many forms, including loose tea, large cakes, or small nests called touchas. 

For loose teas and the small cakes, you can add your tea directly to the pot as is (after unwrapping the nests, of course). For larger cakes, we recommend using a tea needle or a small knife to pick off the portion of leaves you will be using and leaving the rest of the cake intact. 

Aged Tea Brewing Basics

As with all of our teas, for Western-style brewing we recommend a ratio of 5 grams tea to 16 ounces of water. For traditional brewing in a gaiwan or Yixing pot, we recommend filling the pot by 1/3 with leaves. 

Brewing Temperatures:

Sheng (Raw) Pu Erh - 195° F

Shou (Raw) Pu Erh - 205° F

Brewing Times:

Western-Style - Rinse followed by 3 minute steep with resteeps at increasing time intervals

Traditional - Rinse followed by 30-45 second steep with resteeps at decreasing time intervals

Aged Tea Brewing Recommendations

What teaware is best for aged tea?

While aged tea may be brewed using any of your favorite teaware, if you find yourself becoming enamored of aged teas, we recommend investing in a Yixing clay pot. These pots are ideal for brewing large leaf teas like pu erh and the clay absorbs the tannins of your tea over time, adding depth of flavor to your brew. 

Western-Style Brewing Tips for Aged Teas

Our number one tip is to STOP! Keep your leaves! Often with Western-style brewing the impulse is to throw away your leaves after one brew, much like you would a tea bag. While all traditional teas resteep well, large leaf teas like pu erh resteep particularly well, meaning you should be able to enjoy 5-6 delicious and interesting steeps of each portion of your pu erh. Make sure you brew for increasing time intervals (we recommend adding 15 seconds to start) each time to continue extracting new expressions from your leaves! 

Traditional Brewing Tips for Aged Teas

Preheating your teaware before brewing is especially important in traditional tea brewing as your gaiwan or Yixing pot use a relatively small water to tea ratio and will lose the heat of the water quickly. We recommend going through the meditative motions of the gongfu ceremony as you prepare your aged tea. Heating your pot, then using that water to heat your pitcher and cups. Rinsing your leaves, then brewing for 30-45 seconds. Pu erhs and other aged teas lend themselves particularly well to traditional brewing as they are large leaf teas with many expressions to share over subsequent infusions. 

Experience the Gongfu Ceremony with Hayley