There is actually a town in Yunnan Province of China called Pu’erh where this unusual tea has its origins. Pu’erh tea, like other true teas starts as leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant/bush/tree. The characteristic that most defines pu’erh tea is the ongoing aging and fermentation of the “finished” tea that imparts the rich, earthy flavor of this tea. Like green tea, after plucking and withering, pu’erh is de-enzymed to stop oxidation. It is rolled and dried to produce a “rough tea” that is then finished into cakes or loose-leaf. The finishing may be a raw finish (sheng or green) or a cooked (composted) finish (Shou). Either way, the tea continues to age and ferment through a microbial process—imparting new and deeper flavor characteristics over the years. Sheng pu’erh may be enjoyed green or may be left to age for 10, 20, 30 years. As Sheng pu’erh ages, it turns darker and the flavors mellow. Shou pu’erh is typically enjoyed soon after finishing, but will also age and mellow.