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Pu'er is available as loose leaf or in various compressed forms as a tea brick. There is also the differentiation of cooked (shou) and raw (sheng) types. The shou type refers to those varieties that have gone through an accelerated post-fermentation process, while the sheng types are those in the process of gradual darkening through exposure to the environmental elements. Certain selections from either type can be stored for maturity before consumption. That is why some are labelled with year and region of production.
Introduction and historyDarkening tea leaves to trade with ethnic groups at the borders has a long history in China. These crude teas were of various origins and were meant to be low cost. Darkened tea is still the major beverage for the ethnic groups in the southwestern borders and, until the early 1990s, was the third major tea category produced by China mainly for this market segment.
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