Pu erh Tea: Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome to the wonderful world of Pu erh Tea. This unique, often underappreciated beverage has much to offer - despite the fact that many people know very little about it!
So, how do we go about changing that? Below, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company has created a blog focusing on frequently asked questions (FAQ). Start exploring the facts, figures, history and health benefits of Pu erh Tea right here with us!
Pu erh (pronounced “Poo-air”) is one of the most oxidised types of Tea available. It is the product of a unique processing method that sees the leaves mellow with age. In other words, like a fine wine, Pu erh tastes best as a ‘vintage’ brew.
Often, Pu erh comes in a compressed ‘Tea cake’ or ‘brick’. This further enhances the exceptional flavour of this remarkable infusion. That said, there are still Loose Leaf Tea varieties. Whatever your preference, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company can help.
There are two types of Pu erh: Sheng and Shou. The former, which is a Green Tea, is far less common in the west.
It sometimes goes by the name “raw” Pu erh because it undergoes minimal processing. Sheng dates back hundreds of years - long before the process of oxidation was commonplace.
Shou Pu erh, meanwhile, is a type of Black Tea. This is the best known Pu erh despite the fact it only came into existence in 1973!
Two years later, producers introduced this so-called ‘ripe’ Tea to the global market where it quickly became popular.
Now for arguably the most important bit: flavour! Pu erh Tea is somewhat of an acquired taste regardless of whether you choose Green or Black Tea. Some adore it while others, admittedly, loathe it. In other words, it’s the Marmite of the Tea world.
‘Young’ Sheng Pu erh (as in one that hasn’t yet aged) offers a distinct bitterness with vegetal undertones. After a few years, these astringent notes diminish somewhat, replaced by smoother, grassier flavours.
When it comes to smoothness, however, there is nothing quite like Shou Pu erh. Due to its processing, it boasts a highly-prized complexity with extraordinary depth.
Both types of Pu erh originate from the Yunnan province of southwest China. The name “Pu erh” in fact derives from the regional city of Pu’er.
Like Champagne from the Champagne region of France or Tequila from Tequila in Mexico, Pu erh comes only from Yunnan. Specifically, the government of the People’s Republic of China states that only 11 cities and 639 towns can make it.
All of the areas that produce Pu erh experience heavy rainfall and warm, humid climates. This makes for excellent Tea-growing conditions. Noteworthy places known for Pu erh include Baoshan, Lincang, Pu’er and Xishuangbanna, with each one having something unique to offer.
The processing method used to make Shou Pu erh is the primary reason why it ultimately stands out from the crowd. Once the harvested leaves arrive at the factory, they first undergo withering. This can take up to 2 days depending on the batch while also kick-starting fermentation.
Next, the leaves are heat-treated long enough to halt oxidation, but not so long that it reduces the moisture significantly. This is to ensure that the natural bacteria stay alive as it becomes vital later on. Rolling and forming the leaves follows soon after, which helps to release some of the potency.
After a period of drying comes the most essential stage in the process: piling/heaping. This works by manipulating conditions to simulate a natural ageing process by prolonging its bacterial and fungal fermentation.
Chinese manufacturers call it “wòdūi”, meaning “wet-piling”. In essence, workers pile, dampen and constantly turn the leaves in a manner similar to composting.
A cup of Pu erh Tea will taste significantly different depending on how long it has aged. Interestingly, there are several examples of centuries-old Pu erh Teas.
One noteworthy example is that of a 1950s era 357 gram Red Chop Pu erh Tea ‘disc’. This comes with a price tag of over $10,000 USD!
Like any type of ‘real’ Tea (as in a product of the Camellia sinensis plant), Pu erh contains caffeine. So then the question begs: how much? A 2008 study conducted by the Japanese Society of Agricultural Technology has some very interesting findings.
It suggested that the caffeine levels of ripe Pu erh Tea might change during the post-fermentation process.
Despite this, most agree that Pu erh Black Tea has about 60-70 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup. That’s a reasonable amount more than regular Black Tea, which contains about 40 mg. If you like an extra boost in the morning, this beverage makes for an excellent alternative to Coffee.
The good news is that the instructions for “how to brew Pu erh Tea” are pretty simple. First off, you’re going to have to decide whether you want Loose Leaf Tea or Tea Cakes.
If you choose the former, it’s even simpler. If you opt for the latter, you’ll need to pick pieces off to make your cuppa. Some people use a specially designed prying pick, but this isn’t exactly necessary.
Follow these instructions below:
1, Boil FRESH water for the best taste.
2, Place Loose Leaf Pu erh or pieces of a Tea cake into a filter.
3, Put the filter into a cup or mug, followed by the water.
4, Brew for 3 to 5 minutes. The longer you leave it, the stronger it tastes.
5,Once the Tea has steeped, remove the filter to halt the infusion process.
All that is left, then, is to sit back, relax and enjoy!
This question depends on the person. Some have no problem at all drinking Pu erh morning, afternoon or evening. Others, particularly those who’re sensitive to the Effects of Caffeine, should limit their consumption to certain times of the day.
Caffeine is a stimulant that blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain while making you feel less tired. At nighttime, this can pose a problem to those who struggle to get to sleep with caffeine in their system.
If this applies to you, consider opting for a caffeine-free Herbal Tea instead.
As a rule of thumb, depending on storage conditions, Pu erh achieves its peak taste in about 60 years. After that, it begins to degrade over the next 40 years.
However, most people aren’t prepared to wait six decades for their morning cuppa. It then becomes a question of storage and storage alone.
If you care less about age and more about keeping your Tea safe, an airtight container is an excellent choice. It’s worth noting, though, that the more a container restricts airflow and humidity, the slower the ageing process. If ageing is important to you, be sure to opt for a clay jar.
Yes, of course! Pu erh contains a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can improve daily life in small yet significant ways.
Among others, it contains arginine, beryllium, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium, as well as Vitamins B1, B2, C and E.
Combined, these components make for a match made in heaven.
Perhaps most notably, they can combat free radicals in the body, the product of natural, though harmful, human oxidation.
This ultimately reduces the risks of developing several chronic conditions, including type-2 diabetes.
it There are, in fact, MANY health benefits to drinking Pu erh Tea frequently.
It can, for example, lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol according to a Chinese study conducted at Kunming Medical College. This research saw 86 participants with unusually high levels of blood cholesterol split into two groups.
The first group of 55 patients drank Pu erh three times daily, while the second group received a cholesterol-lowering drug.
Once the study had concluded, the results determined that the Pu erh group had a 64.29% reduction in cholesterol. The drug group, in comparison, had only a minimal improvement of 66.67% reduction. While the drug proved more effective, researchers agreed that it could help.
But that’s not all! There are suggestions that the microorganisms in it can increase healthy bacterial flora in the body.
This might be of some benefit to the digestion system, particularly among those who experience digestive complaints after a meal.
Most types of ‘real’ Tea, including Pu erh, contain no more than two calories per 8 oz serving. That’s next to nothing, thus making it an excellent alternative to sugary soft drinks.
What’s more, having so few calories is but one way that Pu erh can support weight loss.
Knowing the Calories in Tea and Nutritional Facts about your cuppa are two elements worth thinking about before brewing up. Some, like Hibiscus Tea, can have as much as 37 calories.
Yet even that isn’t much when compared to certain products on sale these days!
You bet it is! They don’t call this beverage a slimming Tea for nothing! In reality, there is much to be said about Pu erh Tea weight loss benefits. This includes one study conducted at the US Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
American researchers found that Pu erh weight loss works by boosting the metabolism of fat cells in the body. This is because of its prevalence in catechins, which help to burn fat quicker and more efficiently.
Yet for such results to show, it’s imperative to exercise and eat well while also drinking this Tea. In other words, its not going to do all of the work for you!
Is there a certain routine you should keep to get Pu erh weight loss benefits? Not exactly, although some people have opinions on the matter.
Indeed, there are those who recommend drinking it twice daily after meals for its properties to work fully. However, there is no evidence to support such claims.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to manage your expectations. Pu erh isn’t an easy, ‘fix-all’ solution to fitting into your favourite pair of jeans. It isn’t going to work in mysterious ways, nor will it, as mentioned already, do all of the work for you.
It’s likely that Pu erh Tea has anti-inflammatory properties capable of easing redness, swelling and irritation. This might not only help with skin health, but also arthritis. What more could you want from your morning cuppa? Well, as it turns out, there is more!
Evidence indicates that the antibacterial properties of Pu erh can help protect the body against harmful bacteria, including E.coli. In terms of skin health, these very same antibacterial properties can help treat mild bacteria-driven conditions like acne.
Most of the potential side effects associated with Pu erh are to do with its caffeine content. Overconsumption can, after all, famously lead to jitteriness and sleeplessness. What’s more, according to NHS Choices, those who’re pregnant should exercise extra caution.
At present, the consensus is that pregnant women should NOT exceed more than 200 mg of caffeine daily. This is the equivalent of two cups of Coffee or, indeed, about 2-3 cups of this tea. If you have any concerns, please talk to a doctor. That applies to EVERYONE.
Caffeine in Tea can have laxative effects, which, in some cases, can cause or worsen diarrhoea. Despite being unlikely, it’s always best to monitor your caffeine intake to avoid such side effects.
Diarrhoea is an unpleasant affair at any given time, so you should avoid this beverage when experiencing its symptoms.
If you find yourself experiencing diarrhoea after drinking Pu erh, it’s essential that you STOP and consult a doctor. Here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, your health and wellbeing are most important to us. That’s why we insist you should ask your local doctor for medical advice.
We consider ourselves the best Pu erh Tea UK suppliers. When it comes to Tea Cakes, Loose Tea or Tea Bags, choose us for the best quality and consistency.
If you like to keep things simple, why not begin with our traditional Loose Leaf Pu erh Tea? This particular variety offers trademark mellow flavours with a sweet, delectable aftertaste.
Alternatively, our Pu erh Special 3-Year-Old Vintage Tea boasts rich earthy notes and a smoothness like no other.
Perhaps you fancy something a little different? If so, choose our delectable Scottish Caramel Toffee Pu erh Tea. This is one of our most popular Flavoured Teas best known for its indulgent sweet notes. Scotland meets China - in a cup!
Best of all, we pack nearly everything fresh to order.