How is Raw Pu'er Different from Green Tea?

Young raw pu’er tea that is aged less than three years is often described as having a similar taste profile to green tea. Mansa Tea’s Jade Pu’er collection, for example, can resemble green tea at first taste, but is raw pu’er green tea? Yes and no. In terms of post-harvest processing, raw pu’er starts out as a green tea, but there are many differences between the two brews.

Raw Pu’er vs. Green Tea

The primary differences between the two types of tea are harvesting, processing, flavor profile and how and when to drink.

  • Harvesting: All teas come from the same plant, camellia sinensis, but the most prized pu’er are hand plucked from wild trees in Yunnan that are more than a century old. 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, Uji)
  • Processing: Both raw pu’er and green tea follow a similar processing method. After the leaves are harvested, they wither, then they are pan-fired or steamed and rolled. Only the last step varies: most green teas are dried with hot air whereas pu’er is dried in the sunshine. The sunshine affects the taste and the aging profile of raw pu’er. Raw pu’er is also typically compressed into a tea cake form after it is dried.
  • Flavor: Flavor profile of pu’er changes over time as it ages. For example, young raw pu’er can have a slightly bitter taste, which eases as it ages. Pu’er teas can also have earthy or green vegetal flavors. Green teas can be described as bittersweet, floral, oceany and more depending on where it was grown and processed.
  • How to Brew: Pu’er is best enjoyed using boiling temperature water and gong fu brewing style to enjoy the flavors over multiple brews. On the other hand, green tea is best brewed using a serving pitcher without a lid and lower temperature water (140-190 degrees depending on the variety) to avoid burning the leaves.
  • When to Drink: Green tea should be sipped as fresh as possible since the flavors can disappear over time. Raw pu'er, however, can be aged without having its flavors disappear. In fact, aging often allows a deeper flavor profile to develop making no two cups the same.

Where to Buy Pu’er Tea

For fans of green tea, raw pu’er can be an exciting arena to explore. At Mansa Tea, we have a collection of rare and high-quality vintage single-origin pu’er teas. The Wild Lao Raw Pu’er 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.