LunarNewYear PuerTea Hub 27Jan23 pot


The Hub was glad to host Matthews Hayes and guests as he introduced the history, traditions and practices of pu-erh tea Friday, Jan. 28, part of the ongoing Lunar New Years celebrations in Grey-Bruce.


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Matthew Hayes brings cakes of pu-erh tea – and a wealth of knowledge – to the Hub.


The tradition, about 1,400 years old, is from Yunnan province in the mountainous southwest of China, bordered by Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

Tea leaves are picked, pressed, fermented and aged in methods passed down through family and local connections; some pu-erh teas are aged more than 50 years before use.

The cakes provided a stable source of trade for the region – exchanged for horses in Nepal at one point – and it's current effervescent world-wide popularity has only increased demand, and prices.

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Pu-erh teas and packaging brought by Mr. Hayes, sharing its history and traditions.
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LunarNewYear PuerTea Hub 27Jan23 package02
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LunarNewYear PuerTea Hub 27Jan23 cup


Lunar News Years celebrations continue through this weekend:

Saturday, Jan. 28 – 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  Grey Roots Museum and Archives

     Festive and cultural presentations and demonstrations

Sunday, Jan. 29 – 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  Meaford Public Library

     Festive craft-and-chat for adults

Sunday, Jan. 22 to Sunday, Feb. 5
  Southgate Ruth Hargrave Memorial Library, Dundalk

     Festive and cultural activities

Wednesday, Jan. 25 to Saturday, Feb. 25
  Georgian Bay Centre for the Arts
  Grey Gallery
  Owen Sound Artists' Co-op
  Upwards Art Studio

     Year of the Rabbit Art Show

Lunar New Years celebrations start Sunday, Jan. 22, and end on Lunar New Year's Eve, February 9, 2024.


A pu-erh primer from The Pu-erh Brokers of Yunnan Province, by Max Falkowitz:

Depending on how you look at it, processing pu-erh from fresh leaves to finished tea takes as little as a day or as long as decades.

Here's a cheat sheet to understanding the life of pu-erh, from tree to cup.

  • All tea is made from Camellia sinensis, but to be pu-erh, the leaves must be from the large-leaf C. sinensis var. assamica, grown in Yunnan Province, and processed to encourage oxidation and microbial fermentation.
  • Pu-erh bushes are densely packed onto the plantations, but many go after tea made from old-arbor trees in wild, spread-out forest groves. Ancient trees – some centuries old – draw more complex nutrients from the soil for a tea with richer character.
  • First, the leaves are picked by hand, then laid out on long beds indoors to wither.
  • The withered leaves are then tossed in massive woks by hand. This “kill green” step drives out moisture from the leaves and moderates enzymes that would cause excessive oxidation.
  • The leaves are then rolled and kneaded to develop flavor and aroma while driving off additional moisture. Finally, they're sun-dried.
  • Most pu-erh is then compressed into dense cakes with heavy stones or hydraulic presses. People originally pressed the tea to make it easier to transport over long distances. Now they continue the practice to facilitate better storage and aging.
  • The tea can be pressed into a number of shapes, and the degree of compression also impacts how the tea will age. The tighter a cake is compressed, the slower it ages.


Source: The Pu-erh Brokers of Yunnan Province, by Max Falkowitz

– by Hub staff
David Galway


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