Differences Between Raw & Ripe Pu’er Tea

Those who just started to learn about Pu’er tea might get confused about the differences between raw and ripe Pu’er tea. However, Raw and ripe Pu’er tea can be distinguished easily from a few aspects. Continue reading the article below to know about the key differences between raw and ripe Pu’er tea now!

Processing Method

The earlier processing steps for both raw and ripe tea are the same: harvested, withered, pan-fried, rolled, and sun-dried. After sun-dried, raw tea undergoes the last step, pressed into mold.

For ripe tea, it will need to undergo the aging process (pile fermentation), a critical process that makes it so different from raw tea. In pile fermentation, the tea leaves (Maocha) are put in piles and sprayed with water. This process will be done in a hot and humid space to ensure the tea leaves aged in an accelerated way.


The color of the teacake of raw and ripe tea is also very different. A 1-5 years raw teacake is usually in green color with visible white buds. The color will turn darker when the raw teacake has been stored for 5 years and above. This is because the raw teacake will continue to undergo the fermentation process for years when exposed to the air.

A ripe teacake is usually in dark brown color with golden buds. The color of the teacake remains almost the same even being stored for several years.


Raw tea tastes much more astringent and bitter compared with ripe tea. It tastes refreshing, strong and salivating. The astringent and bitter taste will ease and decrease along with years.

Unlike raw tea, ripe tea usually tastes sweet, mellow and thick. Some newly made ripe tea also has a noticeable pile flavor.


The common aromas of raw tea are floral, fruity and honey scents. Ex: orchid scent, plum scent, crystal sugar scent, smoke scent, fungus scent and many more.

For ripe tea the aromas are usually more earthy and woody. Ex: caramel scent, aging scent, camphor wood scent, herbal scent and many more.


To brew a perfect cup of raw Pu’er tea, it will need a medium temperature between 85-90℃. The first three brewing time should be around 25-30 seconds. The liquid of young raw tea is usually in light yellow-green color. The liquid color of an aged raw tea will be more orangish or reddish.

We will need much hotter water for ripe tea. A just boiled 100℃ water is suitable for ripe tea. The brewing time is shorter than raw tea, around 20 to 25 seconds for the first three brew. The liquid is brown-red.

After knowing the differences between raw and ripe tea, it’s time for you to try and taste the differences by yourself. Don’t forget to jump in our Pu’er tea section and discover your perfect blend. Raw or ripe Pu’er tea all at your fingertips! We provide premium chinese tea and teaware worldwide delivery to your doorstep.

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