Guide Puer tea : ancient caravans and urban chic

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Many people want to think of puer as an ancient tea and will even travel to Yunnan to look for the most authentic version. The reasoning behind this is that the post-fermentation process for Puer is very different from other dark teas.

Pu’er is Political

Of course, the rising price of puer at that time may also play an unmentioned part. Overall, this is a pretty interesting book.

Tea, Books and Other Parts of Life

I had seen this book floating around the internet. I am glad you found it informative.

ISBN 13: 9780295993225

Sounds like they jam pack a lot into the book! Great review!

This is always the first book that I recommend to anyone looking to learn more about puerh. Most other books repeat misconceptions that have been around for a long time.


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  • Zhang Jinghong’s Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic!
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The author is from Yunnan so I feel like her perspective is a really important one to have. Thank you! Skip to content — EusReads , EusTea —. There are also two distinct processes: Rough processing — The end result of this is maocha, which is basically green tea.

Zhang Jinghong’s Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic | TeaDB

Fine processing — The end result of this is tea. Fine processing can be further subdivided into two types: for raw puer and for ripe puer artificially fermented puer. For raw puer, where the tea is allowed to ferment naturally, the tea is steamed, shaped, pressed, dried, and wrapped. For ripe puer, the tea is first fermented for two to three months, before being dried, steamed, shaped, compressed, dried again, and wrapped.

Like this: Like Loading She considers how history, location, identity and various agency collectively infuse the value of Puer, examining the complex contexts and conditions of categorization, custom and commercialization centring around the tea. The authenticity of Puer, as Zhang cogently argues, is never fixed and is constantly shaped by these different players and forces.


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Here, the raw Puer, traditionally handcrafted as the base for the aged product, was the original authentic tea. However, the rise of recent con- noisseurship more widely considers the aged tea exported from Yiwu decades ago as the original that represents authenticity. Although the government has attempted to establish formal regulations to unify evaluation standards, these are fiercely contested by local producers, traders, tourists and connoisseurs, whose taste standards diverge tremendously from those of the State.

But the case of Puer is unique because of the great com- plexity of forces involved and the high degree of flexibility in accumulating cultural and economic capital, just as in the fictional jianghu. No matter how government regulations or market values change, local producers actively appropriate the authenticity of Puer by using external pressures and acquire standards as a weapon in response to market speculation. Trained in China and Australia, she is skilled in deploying anthological methods and techniques and is well versed in Chinese, English, and more importantly, the local languages of Yunnan.

Unlike many other publications on Chinese tea, which are either full of tales of adventure of uncharted worlds or detailed descriptions of different tea sorts and drinking etiquettes, this book is more a serious academic study of Puer tea as a culinary, cultural, social, anthropological and commercial phe- nomenon. Although Zhang occasionally veers towards her own experiences, her points are far more observational than personal. Throughout the book, Zhang succeeds in elaborating how the particular value of Puer tea has been packaged by multiple players and forces and how the packaged value has been debated, counterpackaged, and re-interpreted by the same set of players and forces again in various stations of the chain of Puer tea production and consumption.

The whole process, as Zhang deliberately demonstrates, consists of at least three parallel narratives of transformation. The first is the transformation of Puer from a daily beverage to something of value and of high culture.

Puer Tea, Urban Chic, and the Wild West

The second is the changing views on the value of ageing, both in production and in consumption. The third is Puer as a repre- sentation of its home, Yunnan, turning it from a remote, undeveloped area to an enchanting land with natural beauty and ethnic diversity. For Zhang, the extent of these narratives reaches far beyond the mere tea leaves. Examining Puer in the complex context of State control, reinvented localities, globalization, and modern urban consumption, the book is thus not merely a discussion of a particular tea, but also a lively demonstration of feasi- ble approaches in anthropology, cultural studies and social studies.

Zhang Jinghong's Ancient Caravans & Urban Chic, a Conversation w/Garrett [Inbetweenisode 155]

Critical readers might expect a more thorough analysis of how the tea-making technique became converted into an intangible cultural heritage and how Puer was transformed from an object of daily beverage to a concept involving multiple players and forces. As Stacey Pierson has aptly demon- strated in her examination of Ming dynasty porcelain outside China, other cultures and human agency have greatly impacted the consump- tion and reception of porcelain and they are closely related with their respec- tive geographical and cultural locations.

Welcome to the Jianghu

Compellingly argued and fluently written, this book marks an applaudable addition to the growing literature of the cultural and social history of Chinese tea, as well as cultural biographies of commodities. An extensive glossary of original Chinese phrases, together with pinyin transliteration and English translation, provides clear references to various specific terms.

Related Papers. By Shuenn-Der Yu.