The tea leaves are picked, rolled, withered in the hot sun, after which they are steamed and pressed into cakes. (This pu-erh is broken up out of the cakes to make it easier to deal with). The steaming process generates some moisture and when compressed (without drying) into the cakes, in the course of time the tea takes on a musty and earthy character. Pu-erh that gets somewhat moldy before it naturally dries is considered the best. Pu-erh is then stored for years. As with wine, young pu-erh is considered the least valuable whereas pu-erh 5 years or older is more highly prized.
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