Puerh Vs Black Tea

Understanding Puerh Tea vs. Black Tea

There is a lot of confusion amongst tea drinkers regarding Puerh Tea vs. Black Tea. In this article, we aim to clarify all the confusion once and for all.

Key Points

  • Puerh Tea and Black Tea are 2 different types of tea.
  • Puerh tea in China is considered a type of Dark Tea, which is called 黑茶 in Chinese. The issue is that the literal translation of 黑茶 is black tea, hence why it gets confused as what the West thinks of as Black Tea.
  • The main area of confusion between these 2 teas is due to the mistranslation factor, which stems back to 18th century British culture. The mistranslation has yet to be addressed and agreed upon.
  • In reality, what the West knows as “Black Tea” should in fact be called Red Tea. The term Black Tea should be reserved for what is known as Dark Tea cultivars in Asia.

If that seems confusing, you are not alone. Let’s dive into this further and break down each tea to a more detailed level:


  1. Ripe Puerh Tea: This tea is exclusive to Yunnan province in China, renowned for its geographic signature. It’s crafted from coarse tea leaves, a defining characteristic of Puerh.
  2. Black Tea: Unlike Puerh, black tea can be sourced from various regions across China, including Fujian, Guangdong, Sichuan, and Yunnan. It offers versatility in terms of raw materials, including both large and small tea leaves.

Production Process

  1. Ripe Puerh Tea: The process involves stages like rough tea preparation, pilling, drying, filtering, selecting, sun drying, and packaging. The raw material used is fresh Yunnan big tea leaves, which undergo stages like killing green, rolling, and sun drying.
  2. Black Tea: Black tea (red tea) utilizes polyphenol oxidase within tea leaf cells. This leads to a sequence of chemical reactions, resulting in high-polymer tea polyphenols and a reddish tea infusion. The Kungfu black tea is prepared through a process that includes withering, rolling, fermentation, shaping, drying, and refining. It results in tea with a bar shape or a curly appearance.

Appearance: Shapes and Colors

  1. Ripe Puerh Tea: This tea comes in two main forms: loose tea and pressed tea. Loose Puerh tea is broad, dense, and typically brown or maroon. Pressed Puerh tea takes on various shapes like pies, bricks, or blocks.
  2. Black Tea: Kungfu black tea exhibits a bar shape, sometimes with a curly appearance, and often has a golden-yellow color. Broken tea is granular and is commonly used in tea bags.

Puerh Tea vs. Black Tea Liquor Color

  1. Ripe Puerh Tea: When brewed, ripe Puerh tea yields a deep red or maroon liquor.
  2. Black Tea: Black tea has a golden-yellow or red hue, depending on the type.


  1. Ripe Puerh Tea: Known for its robust and full-bodied flavor, ripe Puerh tea offers a variety of taste profiles, such as orchid notes.
  2. Black Tea: Black tea delights the palate with a sweet and pure taste, often accompanied by a pronounced sugary aroma.

Puerh & Black Tea Brewing

  1. Ripe Puerh Tea: With its large tea leaves from big trees, ripe Pu-erh tea can be brewed multiple times, typically more than 15.
  2. Black Tea: Black tea can be brewed around 5 times, with high-quality Dianhong varieties, like Black Gold Wild Dianhong, offering more than 10 brews.

Brewing Techniques

  1. Black Tea: For brewing black tea, porcelain Gaiwans or devices designed for Dianhong are recommended. Alternatively, a convenient teapot can also suffice.
  2. Ripe Puerh Tea: Using a clay teapot is preferred for brewing ripe Pu-erh tea due to its narrow mouth and excellent insulation. This enhances the tea’s rich and intense flavor.

Overall, this issue is only further exacerbated by the fact that tea brands stemming from Asia are promoting Puerh Tea as Black Tea. And understandably so! However, this has lead to tea drinkers consuming Puerh rather than the red tea they think of when the term “black tea” comes to mind.


Unfortunately, such confusion over Puerh Tea vs. Black Tea will likely linger unless there is a mass movement toward renaming black tea to red tea. In the meantime, just know that our Black Tea selections are in fact the “red teas” you are hoping to find!