Pu’er tea is mainly produced in Xishuangbanna and Simao in Yunnan Province. This area was under the jurisdiction of Pu’er government in ancient times. Pu’er tea was named after Pu’er, which was originally produced within the jurisdiction of Pu’er.
Yunnan has a very long history of picking and making lump tea. In the Jin Dynasty, “nanzhong chazi” Yunnan jingtuan tea, together with Shanxi grapes, Henan apples, Shandong persimmons, Hebei chestnuts, Hengyang Huangli, Wushan tangerine, Xiji stone honey, became a national famous specialty. It shows that Yunnan jingtuan tea was produced in the Han Dynasty at least.
By the Tang Dynasty, Pu’er tea had been sold in Tibet and the mainland as a commodity. In Song Dynasty, in order to meet the needs of war, Dali set up a “tea horse market” in Pu’er to exchange Pu’er tea for Tibetan horses, forming the first “tea horse ancient road” from Pu’er to Tibet in history. In the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongols fought in all directions, and Pu’er tea entered Russia from then on.
In the Ming Dynasty, “Yunnan Tongzhi” and “Dian Lue” mentioned that Pu’er is a place where tea is produced. People usually drink Pu’er tea by steaming. It shows that Pu’er tea in Ming Dynasty was already steam pressed group tea.
In the Qing Dynasty, Pu’er tea became tribute tea, and a certain amount was paid to the imperial court every year. Ruan Fu has a detailed record in Pu’er tea records that Pu’er tea is not produced within the boundaries of Pu’er government, but produced in Simao hall, which belongs to the government. There are six tea mountains in Simao hall. Every year, there are eight kinds of tea to be paid to the imperial court: five catties of group tea, three jin of group tea, one jin of group tea, four or two times of group tea, one hundred and twenty-five yuan of group tea, as well as bottled bud tea, pistil tea, and tea paste in a box. After picking, they are steamed and rolled into pancakes. The bud tea with few leaves is called Xiaoman tea in March and April, and Guhua tea in June and July. The big round cake is called pressed tea; the small round cake is called daughter tea, which is picked by women before the grain rain and made into quadruple group tea.
In addition to the tribute group tea, Pu’er tea produced and sold by the people in the Qing Dynasty also included Pu’er loose tea, qizibing tea, Tuo tea, tight tea, etc. In addition to some bud tea, Maojian and other sun dried loose tea, most of them are pressed tea made from sun dried green tea.
After long-distance storage and transportation or storage for several years or more, the traditional Pu’er tea will undergo slow natural fermentation, and the soup is red in color and has an old flavor.
In the 1940s and 1950s, some Hong Kong tea merchants bought Pu’er sun dried green tea from the mainland, and artificially promoted the accumulation and fermentation of sun dried green tea by taking advantage of the special temperature and humidity environment in the cellar, and produced a small batch of aged fragrant Pu’er tea and put it into the market.
In 1957, Guangdong Tea Import and export company succeeded in following the similar method, creating a situation of large-scale export of large leaf Pu’er tea to Hong Kong, Macao, Southeast Asia and Japan.
In 1974, Yunnan tea company sent personnel to study in Guangdong Province. After coming back, they successfully experimented in Yunnan Province and achieved greater development.
In the 1970s, the new technology of Wotou pile fermentation was successfully researched, which greatly shortened the post fermentation time, and produced Pu’er loose tea and steamed Pu’er tea “cooked cake”. The new technology of wodui post fermentation enables the sun dried green tea to undergo rapid post fermentation under the conditions of high temperature and high humidity, and the effect of microorganisms, thus forming Pu’er tea with red and strong soup color and aging flavor.
Therefore, Pu’er ripe tea only appeared in the 1970s. If someone claims that he has Pu’er ripe tea in the 1950s and 1960s or even more, he must be a liar.
Pu’er tea is named after “Pu’er”. The evolution of Pu’er is also worth mentioning. In the Nanzhao state of Tang Dynasty, Pu’er belonged to yinshengfu, which was called “Bu Ri” (the pronunciation of “Ri” is e, the second tone is very close to the pronunciation of “Er”) In the 16th year of Hongwu in the Ming Dynasty (1384), it was renamed “Pu’er”, and it was named “Pu’er” in Wanli period. In 1729, Pu’er house was set up in the seventh year of Yongzheng reign of the Qing Dynasty. In 1913, Pu’er house was abolished, but the name “Pu’er tea” has been handed down to this day.