Pu’er Teas, called Hei Cha or Black Tea by the Chinese have undergone a complete oxidation and ripening through a centuries-old and secret process that varies by family and tradition. Broadly, pu'er teas fit into one of two categories, Sheng [shuhng] (raw) or Shou [shoe] (ripened).
Sheng pu’ers are aged naturally by starting with fully processed tea leaves which are then steamed, shaped into a disk, nest, or brick, and aged for 5 to 40 or more years. Sheng pu'ers tend to be lighter in color and pungent in flavor, characterizations which mellow and darken over time as the tea ages. When drank, Sheng pu'ers present a mellow flavor to start that crescendos on the palate. Shou pu’ers undergo an accelerated aging process. The standard tea making process is interrupted and the leaves are misted and placed in a damp heap for 40 or more days to ferment. This produces a flavor that starts bold and lightens quickly in mouth.