Before there was Earl Grey and English Breakfast, there was pu-erh, a brew from the original birthplace of all tea in what is now southwest China. Grown, picked, and fermented by tribal ethnic groups in Yunnan Province for thousands of years, pu-erh is renowned for its vivid flavor, stomach-soothing fermented properties, and its capacity to age for years, or even decades, like wine or whiskey. Today, prized vintages of pu-erh are sold at auction for tens of thousands of dollars a pound, yet prior to the 1980s, the tea was almost unheard of outside its birthplace.
This experience will explore the history and heritage of this ancient brew, and share the story of how it became such a potent object of modern desire. We’ll also show you how to identify and brew pu-erh’s many shapes, styles, and vintages, so you can take part of this storied tradition.
Your support matters. We’re giving 10% of all enrollment fees to Make the Road New York, an organization that builds the power of immigrant and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice.
Gastro Obscura's mission is to inspire wonder and curiosity about the world through food and drink. Its articles, videos, and guides explore what food and drink reveal about the places where they’re made and the people who make them. And in partnership with chefs, historians, and other experts, Gastro Obscura helps travelers and curious people experience culinary wonders firsthand.
This online experience is part of Atlas Obscura’s Wonder From Home initiative. At Atlas Obscura, our mission has always been to inspire wonder and curiosity about the incredible world we all share. Now, more than ever, there’s a need to stay connected—not only to our sense of wonder, but to each other. Follow and share the hashtag #wonderfromhome for inspiring stories, more incredible online experiences, and live streams with the Atlas Obscura community.
Max Falkowitz is a food writer and tea obsessive who has written for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, and other publications. His work on tea culture has received a James Beard Award for beverage writing, and he continues to travel the world’s great tea regions in search of his next cup. Falkowitz is the co-author of the Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You, and in addition to his writing, is a consultant in the tea world for renowned brands including In Pursuit of Tea.