Raw Pu-erh vs. Green Tea: 5 Key Differences You Must Know

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Young raw pu-erh tea (or sheng pu'er) aged less than three years is often described as having a similar taste profile to green tea. For example, some of the teas in Mansa Tea’s Raw Pu-erh collection can resemble green tea at first taste, but is raw pu-erh green tea?

In this article, we will explore the 5 key differences between the two types.

Loose leaf of young raw pu-erh

Explore Raw Pu-erh

Raw Pu-erh vs. Green Tea: 5 Key Differences

The primary differences between the two types of tea are

  • Harvest Location
  • Processing Methods
  • Flavor Profile
  • Brewing Methods
  • Best Time to Drink

Mansa Handcrafted Aged Tea | Our tea leaves are handpicked by farmers

Learn more about handpicked tea

1. Harvest Location

All teas come from the same plant, camellia sinensis. And the most prized pu-erh are hand plucked from over century-old wild trees in Yunnan. These tea trees are of large leaf type, the size of which is also apparent in the loose leaf and tea cake forms. In contrast, famous green teas are grown in different regions of China and Japan (i.e., Henan, Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, and Uji). At Mansa, we focus on handpicked pu-erh tea from the ancient tea mountains in Yunnan.

Mansa Handcrafted Aged Tea | Raw Pu'er is hand processed vs. many other green teas.

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2. Processing Methods

Both raw pu-erh and green tea follow a similar processing method. After harvesting the leaves, tea farmers wither, pan-fried (or steam), shape, and dry the leaves. But here's the main difference. During the last step, most green teas are machine-dried, whereas pu-erh teas are sun-dried. And this natural drying affects the taste and the aging ability of raw pu-erh. Raw pu-erh is also typically compressed into a tea cake form after it is dried. The end-to-end process of making pu-erh is much more laborious than many commercialized teas.

smoky bulang pu-erh tea

Try a popular raw pu-erh

3. Flavor Profile

The flavor profile of pu-erh changes over time as it ages. For example, young raw pu-erh can have a slightly bitter taste, which eases as it ages. Pu-erh teas can also have earthy or green vegetal flavors. Green teas are bittersweet, floral, and oceany, depending on where they were grown and processed. 

If you are not yet comfortable with the idea of aging tea, you can purchase teas that are already aged for you. At Mansa, our aged teas are ready to be enjoyed without further aging. For example, our Raw Pu-erh collection includes young raw pu-erh teas that are low in bitterness that you can enjoy today.

How to brew using a gaiwan

Learn how to brew in gongfu style

4. Brewing Methods

Pu-erh tea is best enjoyed in the gongfu brewing style, where you use a high tea-to-water ratio and enjoy the flavors over multiple brews in boiling-temperature water. On the other hand, green tea is best brewed with lower temperature water (140-180 degrees depending on the variety) to avoid burning the leaves.

pu-erh teas are aged in a temperature and humidity controlled environment

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5. Best Time to Drink

Flavors can disappear over time, so green tea should be drunk as fresh as possible. Raw pu-erh, however, can be aged without having its flavors disappear. Aging often allows a deeper flavor profile to develop, making no two cups the same. Remember that pu-erh should be aged in a carefully controlled environment to ensure its optimal flavors unfold over time. 

yiwu 18: nutty green tea

Try Wild Lao Raw Pu-erh

Where to Buy Pu-erh Tea

For fans of green tea, raw pu-erh can be an exciting arena to explore. At Mansa Tea, we have a collection of rare and high-quality handcrafted pu-erh teas. The Wild Lao Raw Pu-erh is a great tea for green tea lovers to try. It resembles a green tea, but it has a nuttier taste with a light floral scent.

Mansa Tea is a handcrafted aged tea company that specializes in aged teas, tea experiences, and education for modern connoisseurs. 

This post is part of our Aged Tea 101 series. Sign up to get the full series!

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