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pan-frying process of pu-erh tea
I made a video showing the pan-frying process of pu-erh tea. It was recorded this year when I visited Yunnan in April. This is the manufacturer who produced one of our raw pu-erh tea lineups : Mang Qing 芒慶.

Raw pu-erh tea is a fermented tea

The purpose of frying the tea leaves is to inactivate the enzyme. If tea is processed without frying, it could turn out to be black tea due to the excessive fermentation. The process of making pu-erh tea is the same as that of making Chinese green tea, up til the stage of rolling process. Some people often say that the raw pu-erh tea is just as same as green tea. In fact, raw pu-erh tea is not like a green tea. These 2 teas are different. Green tea is dried immediately after the rolling process. Regardless of whether there is any enzyme survived in pan-frying process, there is no time for the enzyme to be activated for fermentation. As for pu-erh tea, it is dried under the sun-shine. It usually takes a whole day for drying the tea leaves. During the drying process, temperature and moisture level is just optimum for the enzymatic fermentation. Unlike the steaming process for making Japanese green tea, the pan-frying process does not inactivate 100% of enzyme inside the tea leaves. The minor portion of the remaining enzyme will continue to contribute in the fermentation during sun drying process.

The quality of frying-pan is critical

The frying-pan used in this video is considered as a type of modern design, and the quality is good. Somehow the frying equipment is very important factor that could affect the flavor of tea. We often see ignorant farmers using very simple set up in their frying equipment. If the frying-pan is too small or too thin, it could burn the tealeaves and gives the tea burnt flavor.

pan-frying process of pu-erh tea

 

High temperature used for frying tea leaves

Can you imagine how high the temperature can go up to when frying tea leaves? Some of you may think that tea leaves ought to be gently fried. Most of us who witnessed a pan-frying process for the first time would be surprised. The frying temperature is actually very high. During frying process, the fried leaves makes loud sizzling and popping sounds while the steam rises up. The tea leaves were fried very intensively, much more intensive than we could imagine. The frying process continues until the stem of tea became elastic.

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