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Pu-erh are post-fermented teas whose oxidation is not enzyme related. First the tea goes through a process of picking, withering, heating, rolling, second heating, drying, and sorting. Depending on the processing that comes next, the pu-erh falls into one of two categories. Sheng pu-erh tea is compressed into cakes and left to slowly oxidize. Sheng pu-erh will ferment over a period of 10-50 years. 30 years is considered fully mature and any number of years after that, the pu-erh is considered vintage. Shou pu-erh goes through an accelerated fermentation process where the leaves are exposed to high heat and humidity for 45-65 days. After they finish this accelerated fermentation, the leaves are sorted and compressed. The shou method of making pu-erh was developed in the 1980s to meet demand, which was much faster and greater than the traditional aging process could keep up with. Sheng pu-erh generally produces a cup that is woodsy and earthy and even a bit fruity. The longer the pu-erh ages the more depth and body develops rather than specific flavors. Shou pu-erh tends to be less complex but still boasts those earthy notes that pu-erh is known for.
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