Puer tea, which is almost entirely grown in the southern Chinese province of Yunnan, is considered a national treasure by the China government and is restricted to growth in the nation as part of China’s national policy to protect its unique resources. For decades people have been trying to export Puer saplings and various seeds to places such as Taiwan but have at large been restricted due to bans on exports relating to large portions of Puer-related goods shipped.
It is not entirely impossible to get your hands on Puer leaves. Some people get access to saplings and seeds through large orders of tea in which they are combined into the tealeaves. Some people have even tried to send them separately but these are subject to close inspection at customs, which could result in fines among other penalties.
The process of making Puer in fact deals with taking tealeaves and fully fermenting them into what is known as the blackish, roasted tasting Puer that people know today. However, not all leaves are suitable for this due to their quality based on the areas where they grow that encompass various characteristics into making good Puer such as the soil and nutrients. Therefore, in order to match the taste from Puer grown in Yunnan tea makers at the very least need saplings that have already begun to take shape or they need to obtain seeds that have been left over from the area.
Taiwanese try to make their own Puer using tealeaves from areas such as Alishan but the result is a very green-type flavor, as those leaves are typically used for green tea and Oolong teas. The difference in taste is like drinking a green shake such as kale but rather than using a loose –leaf type plant like kale you use salad. Rather than drinking a well-blended drink you end up feeling like you drink a salad.
Puer tea is also being experimented with in Germany and the USA but has largely been unsuccessful in capturing the taste due to the above-mentioned concerns. China is showing no signs of letting down its guards anytime soon as it wants to protect one of the most affluent and stable industries in the Yunnan region. From a global economic standpoint this is really unfair, as other nations should have the opportunity to compete in any industry, but that is the way it goes in China.