Tangerine Puerh- Interview with JustPuerh

JustPuerh is a Canadian based puerh company that opened its doors in 2020. I ordered a few of their puerhs (Link to my instagram review) and they were very kind to include a tangerine puerh as well. I had never tried one before and had very little knowledge of them. It wasn’t until early 2021 that I finally decided to try it… and wow! The combination of tangerine and puerh create a delightful infusion and I found myself immersed with every sip. After this, I contacted JustPuerh and asked if I could ask them a few questions about their tea- I can’t be the only one that had never tried this tea before, right?! Here is how it went:

First off, what was your motivation to start your puerh tea shop and where did you first try puerh?

The first time I tried puerh tea was from my friend, a devoted yogi, who was very obsessed with it, in a good way. He was carrying it around with him all day in a large thermos, and once it ran out, he’d put more boiling water into it and drink it again. I used to take yoga classes from him, and got used to drinking puerh with yoga. To this day, yoga and puerh tea go hand in hand for me. This is how I got turned on to puerh tea, and developed a strong affection for it.

Over the years I struggled getting consistently good quality puerh tea in my city (Toronto). Buying it from Chinatown stores, from mainstream suppliers, from Amazon and Etsy was a hit and miss at best. Many of my friends are also into puerh tea, and they struggled with getting a consistent supply of good quality puerh too, so during the first lockdown in March of 2020 I decided to solve this problem once and for all. The rest is history, as they say. 

I know the tangerine puerh was one of the first teas you launched, what motivated you to launch with that one?

I was not aware of Tangerine puerh until we built a relationship with our current supplier, a small family-run tea factory in Yunnan that sources from local farmers and makes various kinds of puerh tea. They introduced us to Tangerine puerh, and I thought it was a very interesting concept. I’ve heard of Chrysanthemum puerh before, and this was similar, but very different in that the tea leaves were not mixed, but wrapped into a green tangerine shell. We decided to give it a try, and loved it. 

Do you know how this puerh came to be?

Dried tangerine peel has been an ingredient in Chinese cooking (orange chicken), and an important ingredient in Chinese medicine, known to boost the immune system and prevent viruses and infections due to its high vitamin C content. 

It also ages well, just like puerh tea does. So it makes for a natural combination with tangerine altering and complimenting the flavour of the tea. 

And then there is a legend about a scholar during the Qing dynasty getting sick and being served hot water with tangerine peel, a traditional remedy. He used this tangerine infused water to brew his puerh tea, and loved the result, later making it into a thing. 

Where is your puerh from?

Most of our tea comes from one supplier, the company called Hongfaxiang (弘发祥), which means affluence and auspiciousness. It is a family-owned business started in 1995 by 2 brothers from Anxi county, Fujian province, China. 

How do you outsource it?

All the puerh tea is made in Menghai county, Yunnan province. Every spring one of the brothers stays in Menghai for a few months, working with local tea farmers on sourcing best materials for this year’s tea. He goes to Nanruo mountain, Laobanzhang village, Bakanan village, Yiwu mountain, and other locations in Yunnan province where the farms are based to find good raw materials for the tea. Then once those materials are harvested and processed, they’re pressed into puerh cakes and packed for distribution.

What is the process of making this puerh? Is there a specific time of the year when this is made?

Tangerine puerh makes use of the two raw ingredients: Tangerine from Xinhui District, Jiangmen City, Guangdong Province; and ripe Puerh tea from Yunnan Province.

The process unfolds as follows: first the fruit is picked and washed. Next, the top part of the fruit is cut to create an opening through which the fruit meat is scooped out. The inside is washed and dried. Then it’s filled with puerh tea and dried further.

The fruit is harvested in July.  This is the time when it’s still in the growing period, when the fruit flavour has already developed but not fully. The fruit is still green when it’s picked. 

Do you know of any other fruits stuffed with puerh?

No. I think this is unique to tangerine.

What is your hope for this business in the future?

We want to provide a source of good quality, authentic puerh tea to people who appreciate it, and we also want to introduce this wonderful tea to others who have yet to discover it. We are currently investing into pumidors where we will continue ageing the tea in perfect conditions to develop it’s flavour year-over-year, so we have a good source of high quality, raw and ripe puerh tea of various age categories. We are also committed to supporting the community of puerh tea lovers with good information and ways of enjoying this great tea. 

I hope y’all enjoyed this interview and you learned more about tangerine puerhs! If you haven’t tried it, go ahead and get yourself some!! 🙂

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