Loose Pu’er vs. Block Pu’er December 23 2014

posted by Teagora Teas

Pu’er tea is a style of tea that can trace its origins back over 1700 years, making one of the oldest continually planted and consumed varieties in the world.

What makes pu’er tea so unique is that it is traditionally sold as compressed leaves that are molded into a sphere shape. Usually measuring about 11.6 centimeters in diameter and weighing about 125 grams, the compressed or “block” pu’er is about the size of an orange. Tea producers transform the loose leaf tea into the block form by steaming it after it is harvested and processed.

The reason for the development of these blocks was to ease the transportation and trade of tea from China’s Yunnan province – the origin of the blocks. Today, pu’er can be purchased in both block form and the natural loose leaf form. Many people choose to still buy the blocks as a novelty, but tea merchants have found that, because the blocks are so tightly compressed, the leaves are not exposed to the air nearly as much its loose leaf counterpart. This results in a much longer shelf-life for the tea and thus the tea is able to be sold for a higher price.

The catch? Block pu’er is quite solid, and requires a certain knife or tool and the proper technique in order to break the block to prepare for brewing and consumption.

Pu’er tea’s two forms both have their advantages and disadvantages, from ease of transportation to shelf life to ease of consumption, which is why we recommend you take the time to experiment with both and discover which is your favorite. Who knows, you may just uncover your new preferred style of tea while having fun along the way!