Although the small town Pu-erh (also called puer or pu-erh) is the namesake of the Pu-erh teas, the tea leaves grow in the mountains of Xishuangbanna. Pu-erh was a starting point of the famous “horse route’’ used by traders. They were on route for months and the fresh tea leaves were exposed to the weather. The light-colored, not fermented cakes often arrived on their final destination being transformed into dark-colored, fermented cakes. For pu-erh tea the horse route was the route to a great taste. Because of the relatively small weight, which the horses could carry, pu-erh teas were extremely expensive. Because of their special taste they were very popular in those days as well.
Pu-erh is available as loose leaves or in various compressed forms as a tea disk or cake. There is a distinction dark Pu-erh tea (“shou” or cooked pu-erh) and green Pu-erh tea (“sheng” or raw pu-erh). “Shou” refers to those species produced through an accelerated post-fermentation process, while the “sheng” species are those that go through a process of gradual eclipse. Certain selections of both types can be saved for years. That is why some pu-erhs have year and region.