Sheng (raw) Puerh is the traditional way of processing Puerh, and traditionally it was aged at least 10-20 years before drinking.
This is still the type of Tea I focus on as it’s the best for Meditation purposes, it promotes absorption, it really transmits the forest spirit of the trees and is a balanced tonic for the whole body.
The older the better, but the older also the most expensive, so I focus on the late 1990s-early 2000s era as the sweet spot for most Tea.
Puerh cakes before 1990s or collectible ones from 1990s and 2000s tend to have outrageous prices, so most of the Tea we have at the Temple is very small productions, some of the best treasures I found didn’t even have a wrapper.
Nowadays there’s a lot of people consuming Sheng Puerh that’s not aged. While this is possible, it tends to be cold (In chinese medicine terms), bitter and not very grounded as when it’s aged.
Shou (cooked) Puerh is a way of accelerating the fermentation process that Aged Sheng Puerh naturally achieves over many years.
The main drawback is that a part of the Qi and absorption effects of the Tea are compromised by this . The main advantage is that it tastes much softer and easier than Sheng Puerh of the same age!
Note there are also aged Shou Puerh, this Tea usually wasn’t fully fermented when it was produced and so it has gone partially fermentation at the beginning of its life and partially with time.
A note on caffeine: a significant amount of caffeine is flushed out in the first steeping of old Teas (which we don’t drink).
1990s and to a lesser extent 2000s Tea is noticeably calmer than 2010s Tea. For some, this is a reason to only drink Aged puerh (whether it be sheng or shou) in the afternoon or evening time.