Fermented tea uses microbial fermentation for rich, malty, and earthy flavors. It’s been used in China for centuries to create and preserve Hei Cha (Dark Teas) like Liu Bao and Liu An. Production areas include Sichuan and Hunan Provinces.
There’s also post-fermented tea, applying the same process after drying. Puerh tea widely uses this technique, now considered the main fermentation process due to its popularity. Products in this category include Puerh and Dark Tea Cakes, Bricks & Tea Bags.
Prized for its rich, earthy flavor and apparent medicinal qualities, fermented tea is a unique beverage that every true tea drinker can appreciate.
It’s produced via a fermentation process whereby tea is matured for many months. Tea leaves are exposed to oxygen and beneficial microbes, effecting the way they look and taste. The taste of fermented tea is more mellow than black tea. The fermentation process removes many of the astringent and bitter compounds and creates a more rounded profile.
It also has a very unique mouthfeel, one that you simply can’t get with green/white and black tea. It’s thicker, fuller, and much more rounded.
All dark tea is different. As with other tea varieties, these differences begin with the region in which the tea is produced. Pu’er is arguably the most well-known type of fermented tea. So much so that it has become synonymous with the drink. Pu’er is traditionally produced in the Yunnan Province of China and it’s not uncommon for it to be aged for many years.
Hunan and Hebei also produce their own fermented selections, among others. You can find it in Japan as well, where they make a type of tea known as kurocha. In Korea it’s called byeongcha, which translates as “cake tea” and references the “brick” or “cake” form that fermented tea is often sold in.
Also known as dark tea, fermented tea is hugely popular across China where it’s believed to provide an array of benefits.
Legend has it that the first fermented tea was made by accidented on the Silk Road. Traders noticed that their stockpiles of black tea had been drenched with rain, and so they discarded them. Locals later discovered the tea and drank it, uncovering something that the traders had overlooked—it was delicious, safe and even beneficial!