Pu-erh tea can generally improve in taste over time (due to natural secondary oxidation and fermentation).
Teas that can be aged finely are typically:
- Made from high quality material
- Processed skillfully
- Stored properly over the years
The common misconception is that all types of pu-erh tea will improve in taste—and therefore get more valuable as an investment item—as they get older. There are many requisite variables for a pu-erh tea to age beautifully. Further, the cooked (shou) pu-erh will not evolve as dramatically as the raw (sheng) type will over time from the secondary oxidation and fermentation.
As with wine, only the finely made and properly stored ones will improve and increase in value. Similarly, the percentage of those that will improve over a long period of time is only a small fraction of what is available in the market today.
Beginning in 2008, much of the Pu'er industry suffered a tremendous drop in prices. Consequently, many have lost their fortunes and some have even decided to stop selling, growing, or distributing Pu'er as a result of the financial loss plaguing many of those in the industry. Investment-grade Pu'er has witnessed declines in price as well, although not as drastically as those varieties which are more common.