Twigs in Pu erh Tea? Is it a sign of low-grade tea?
Posted on July 17 2020
Will twigs affect the quality of Pu-erh tea at all?
In our traditional impression of tea, quality tea must look and taste “fresh and tender". When distinguishing between good and bad, we always check the wet tea leaves to see whether there are enough young buds there. If their stems are found, then most likely we will judge it as a low-grade tea.
But people who often drink tea will find that when we drink teas such as Pu'er tea and Oolong tea, this standard does not apply.
What is Tea Twig?
Tea twigs are stalks of tea, and some also refer to tea branches and stems. The so-called "tea stem" is usually taken off from the harvest tea. People are not used to drinking tea stems straight away. They are considered to be thick and rough, which destroys the beauty and taste of tea.
However, according to the standard of Pu’erh tea leaves harvest, more matured fresh leaves are needed, and it is common to find tea twigs among leaves.
Facts about Tea Stem in Chinese Pu-erh Tea?
- The tea stalk itself is rich in carbohydrates. Proper combination with tea buds and leaves can significantly enhance the taste of tea.
- The increased gap in between leaves by adding appropriate tea stalks into the compressed pu erh tea cake has provided idea condition for the tea to contact with the air and will boost the tea to ageing.
It is helpful to know that rough and mature leaves play an irreplaceable role in Pu'er tea. But it is not to say that the more stem the better. Everything should be measured with the right amount. If the tea stems are added too much in Pu'er tea, the complex rich flavour of the tea will decrease; if there are few tea stems in Pu'er tea or none, the flavour will not stand up after few brews.
The proper combination of tea stems and tea leaves can significantly improve the quality of tea products.
The vascular tube in the tea stalk is responsible for transporting nutrients and aroma throughout the tea leaves. During the processing of tea, the aroma is transferred from the stem to the leaves with the evaporation of water.
- More Amino acid Blend in
The amino acid is an important substance in tea. It plays a dominant role in blending in fresh and sweet flavour into tea soup, which contributes to the formation of tea aroma. The tender stems have more amino acids than the bud leaves, especially theanine, and the content of the tender stems is 1-3 times higher than that of the bud leaves.
（Image: Menghai Stems Only Pu'erh Tea)
Therefore, when blending Pu'er tea, proper tea stalks will be added to balance the level of theanine. When brew aged tea stems only, you will find that the tea soup is very sweet and accompanied by a rich and aromatic fragrance. There are many tea lovers that collect Pu'er tea stems and make them into bricks(tea cake). After ageing for a period of time, they take them out and enjoy the transformed flavour of tea leaves.
You might think pu-erh tea isn't handsome because of those twigs, but in fact, the stems are must-have in Puerh tea.
(Image: Buds only pu'erh tea)
Above demonstrated buds-only pu'erh tea looks gorgeous without any stems mixed in is suitable for consuming at the first two years. But it might lose its richness in flavour after two years compared to those ones have proper portion of stems blended in. This is also the reason why experienced pu erth tea lovers choose to stock in Pu-erh tea cakes with stems for the complex flavour transformation in the long term.