Pu erh Tea Benefits
Pu erh Tea is a tea treasured in China; however, very few have known of it in the west until recent times. It has quite the reputation and is noted as being earthy, bold and indulgent in flavour and the recent well documented Pu erh Tea Benefits.
And the indulgence of Pu erh Tea is now spreading outside of Yunnan, outside of China, and outside of the east to grace the palates of tea connoisseurs and lovers everywhere.
It has the taste; it has the history; it has the health benefits. There is nothing not to love about Pu erh Tea.
"Let’s explore this innovative, invigorating, inspiring brew"
What is Pu erh Tea?
Pu erh Tea (pronounced “Poo-air”) is one of the most oxidised forms of any type of tea. It originates from the Yunnan province of Southwest China and is named after the nearby city of Pu’er.
Many counties in the Yunnan province, especially along the Lancang river, produce Pu erh Tea; however, since 2008, the government of the People’s Republic of China have limited where the leaves can be grown, harvested, and processed.
Like Champagne from the Champagne region of France, Tequila from the Tequila region of Mexico and Darjeeling Tea from the Darjeeling District of India, “official” Pu erh Tea is now made exclusively in only 11 cities and 639 towns in the Yunnan province of China.
The move has drawn both praise and criticism from all sides. In the nearby Guangdong province, for example, many tea producers were disgruntled upon the news as they had previously made Pu erh Tea. The Hunan Province was also affected by the change.
On the other hand, the new law has likewise boosted the provincial economy of Yunnan. Whatever your opinion on the matter might be, the Chinese government are now able to “authenticate” the brand.
To many, the limitations were welcome as the Yunnan province is considered a “mecca” for tea in China. It is home not only to Pu erh but also Yunnan Black Tea, an equally famous beverage.
Yunnan Province in China
All areas producing Pu erh Tea in Yunnan have heavy rainfall and warm, humid climates; these conditions are excellent for tea-growing, Pu erh Tea being the best.
- Baoshan Area: Known formerly as ‘Yongchang’, Baoshan City is thought to be the first residence of human settlers in western Yunnan. The area has mild winters and summers, boasting thick and full tea trees. Baoshan City, in particular, plays a vital role in the mass-production of tea.
- Lincang Area: Located in Southwest Yunnan, the name “Lincang” derives from the nearby river itself. It is arguably the main area for Pu erh Tea production. It is also home to the renowned ‘Fengqing’ variety of Pu erh Tea.
- Pu’er (Simao) area: Pu’er has twice changed its name between 1950 and 2007. First, it changed from “Pu’er” to “Simao” and then back to “Pu’er”. Now called by its original name, Pu’er is made up of several regions, each with its own “take” on Pu erh Tea. Many centuries ago, Pu’er City acted as the provincial hub for tea distribution. Many teas, including Pu erh Tea, were sent to the city to be processed and sold. It is also home to the ancient tea tree, Zhen Yuan, which is said to be thousands of years old.
- Xishuangbanna Area: Some of the most sought-after Pu erh Teas come from the Xishuangbanna area, particularly from eastern Xishuangbanna, which is famous for its six “tea mountains”. The so-called “tea” mountains are covered in thousand-year-old tea trees.
Each mountain holds a legendary status in China; however, following the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, much of the area’s tea production shifted west to Menghai County, western Xishuangbanna. Today, Menghai County is home to some of the most popular Pu erh Teas.
But not everyone chooses to drink their Pu erh Tea. Some instead buy compressed Puerh Tea “cakes” or “bricks” and keep them in the family for generations. There are many examples of century-old Pu erh Teas, most of which are almost priceless. In fact, a 1950’s era 357 gram Red Chop Puerh Tea “disc” can now sell for over $10,000 USD.
Like wine, quality Puerh Teas are left to age. That is why compressed Pu erh is most popular as it mellows and enhances in flavour when left for years on end.
How is Pu erh Tea Made
The terms “Sheng” and “Shou” are used commonly when talking about Puerh Tea. But what do they mean? Put simply, “Sheng” is Green Pu-erh Tea while “Shou” is Black Pu-erh Tea.
A Sheng Puerh Tea is also a “raw” Puerh Tea while a Shou Puerh Tea is a “ripe” Puerh Tea.
Sheng Puerh Tea has existed for centuries. Shou Puerh, on the other hand, was first developed in 1973 and was introduced to the market in 1975.
Puerh Black Tea and Puerh Green Tea, like any other Black and Green Tea, undergoes similar processing methods with small yet significant differences:
- Withering: Tea leaves used in the making of Puerh Tea are first placed on tables (often outside) and left to dry for 1 to 2 days. The withering of the leaves removes the moisture content ready for the next step.
- Kill-Green: Traditionally carried out by hand but now, predominantly, with the use of machinery, the “Kill-Green” (known locally as “Sha Qing”) stage reduces the fermentation of the leaves.
- Rolling / Forming: Once the fermentation of the tea has been reduced, the leaves are allowed briefly to cool before being rolled and broken. The “rolling” and “forming” stage allows the leaves to release some of their potency which, ultimately, helps them to age well.
- Drying: The tea leaves can be dried either outside or with the use of machinery. The “drying” stage is similar to the withering of the leaves except it is for the sole purpose of reducing the moisture content of the tea.
- Piling / Heaping (Black Pu-erh Tea): Following on from drying, the “Piling / Heaping” stage is unique to Black Pu erh Tea. It is a relatively new processing method, which manipulates conditions, similar to a natural ageing process, by prolonging bacterial and fungal fermentation. Known in China as “wòdūi” (translated to mean “wet piling”) the leaves are placed in warm, humid environments under controlled conditions. This involves piling, dampening, and turning the tea leaves in a manner very similar to composting.
The finished product, be it Green or Black Puerh Tea, can be left in its loose leaf state or compressed to make Pu erh Tea Cakes.
Whether compressed or left as a loose leaf tea, Puerh is then kept in a warm and moist storage area to mature and mellow. While it is not uncommon for the tea leaves (both loose or compressed) to be left for years on end, by rights, Pu’erh Tea becomes ‘drinkable’ after a 3 month period.
History of Pu erh Tea
Historians have long suggested that the Yunnan province was the birthplace of tea some 5,000 years ago. Puerh Tea, on the other hand, is not quite as old.
Pu erh Tea was first created in the Han Dynasty (25 - 220 CE) according to some sources, although it is a topic of great debate. What is known for sure, however, is that Pu erh Tea became popular during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 CE).
The tea trees, like those found on the six “tea” mountains, were first cared for by two Chinese minority ethnic groups, the Dai and the Aini. Together, they oversaw the harvesting and production of the tea before it passed on to merchants to be taken on China’s trade routes.
Merchants of the time found it difficult to deal with cumbersome loads of loose leaf tea, instead opting to compress the leaves into tea bricks. The bricks were easier to carry on pack animals across rocky mountain passes and treacherous roadways yet it still, at times, took months to reach its destination for trading.
The journeys were bumpy, hazardous, dangerous but the uneven terrain did something incredible to the leaves: they transformed from green to amber and then to dark teak. The taste, on the other hand, became livelier, richer, fruitier and smoother.
But what had happened? The tea leaves had experienced a “post-fermentation” period, which is when tea undergoes biological and enzymatical changes whereby microbes have developed in the leaves.
Green Pu erh Tea was a popular trade commodity during the 7th Century; however, hundreds of years later in 1391, the first Ming Emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang, ordered the abolition of all moon-shaped compressed teas. Emperor Yuanzhang believed his people were wasting too much time manufacturing compressed tea and so, for a few years, only loose leaf tea was permitted in China.
But the move was short-lived and during the reign of the fifth Qing Emperor, Yongzheng, Simao-grown Pu erh became a “Tribute Tea”. Tribute Teas were produced at the request of the Emperor himself and then “gifted” to his Royal Court. Only teas deemed of the highest quality were selected, Pu erh Tea being one.
And as a result, the late 17th Century and early 18th Century gave rise to a new love for Puerh Tea.
Interestingly, the last Emperor of China, Pu Yi, favoured the consumption of Dragon Well Green Tea in the summer and Pu erh Tea in the winter.
Pu erh Tea Benefits
The west has become increasingly health conscious in recent years. Is it a coincidence that Pu erh Tea, a beverage with astounding health benefits, has arrived on the scene around the same time?
The chances are that, yes, it is a coincidence; however, it is quite possibly one of the best coincidences to ever occur.
Depending on whether you choose Sheng Puerh or Shou Puerh, there are many different ways in which this beverage can improve your everyday way of life.
Black Puerh Tea, in particular, contains an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants including Vitamins B1, B2, C, and E as well as potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, lysine, arginine, histidine and cysteine, and linoleic and linolenic acids. It also contains trace amounts of zinc, sodium, nickel, iron, beryllium, sulfur and fluorides.
These components combined have the ability to combat free radicals in the body, which are the product of natural human oxidation. In doing so, Pu erh Tea benefits, potentially, reduce the risks of a number of chronic conditions including Cardiovascular Disease and even, although studies are preliminary, cancer, the possibilities are nearly endless.
Pu erh Tea Weight Loss
Still not ready for summer? Consider drinking Puerh Tea alongside a healthy and active lifestyle for dropping a few extra pounds.
Amazingly, Pu erh Tea has been consumed for hundreds of years to help with obesity control. Little has changed today according to a study conducted by the United States Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which found that the catechins in Pu erh Tea can boost the metabolism, helping the body to burn fat quicker and more efficiently.
Furthermore, the caffeine in Pu erh Black Tea, according to some scientists, can reduce fat content in the liver; however, before you give up that morning jog, it is important to note that the fat busting ability of Pu erh is dependent on your lifestyle choices. Eating healthily and exercising frequently is vital for losing weight, even with Pu erh Tea Benefits by your side.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Keeping your heart in check is perhaps one of the most important things you can do for yourself. But what part does Pu erh Tea have to play?
A Chinese study conducted at the Kunming Medical College has the answers. It saw 86 volunteers with unusually high levels of blood cholesterol split into two groups; the first group of 55 patients consumed Pu erh Tea three times a day while the second group received an unnamed cholesterol lowering drug.
The results established due to Pu erh tea benefits a 64.29% reduction in LDL cholesterol (or, “bad” cholesterol) in the tea-drinking group. Meanwhile, the drug group only showed a minimal improvement with a reduction of 66.67%. While, admittedly, the drug was proven to be ever so slightly more effective, it likewise proved that Puerh Tea can improve cardiovascular health.
Increased Cognitive Function
An estimated 750,000 people in the UK suffer from conditions such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, with the number set to double in the next 40 years as Britain’s population ages. Could Puerh Tea be the answer? Quite possibly.
According to new research published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”, one particularly fascinating study was conducted at the University of Singapore. The study saw some 2,500 people aged 55 or over undergo a test to measure their cognitive function.
When the experiment was repeated 2 years later, results established that those who had drunk two to three cups of black tea a day during the 2 year period were 55% less likely to be subjected to cognitive decline. Meanwhile, those who had drunk six to ten cups a day were up to 63% less likely.
A 2016 meta-analysis supported the consumption of Black Tea for reduced risks of cognitive decline, stating that: “Daily tea drinking is associated with decreased risk of CoI, MCI and cognitive decline in the elderly”.
Choose Shou (Black) Pu erh Tea over Sheng (Green) Puerh Tea for the potential of enhancing cognitive function. The studies are out there, the findings are promising.
The centuries old practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognises both Shou and Sheng Puerh Teas as being choice-beverages for breaking down foods in the stomach and intestines. This is because of the microorganisms in Pu erh Tea, which are able to increase the healthy bacterial flora in the body
Pu erh Tea, like Oolong Tea, is recommended before, during, and after large, fatty meals owing to its ability to improve digestive health.
It can also stimulate the gastrointestinal system by speeding up the digestive process and clearing up symptoms of indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, and other stomach issues.
We all need a break from time to time. Have one with Pu erh Tea, a beverage that can not only relieve feelings of stress but also improve your sleeping patterns, helping you to feel rested and ready for the day ahead.
Yet for many, it may seem counterproductive to drink Black Tea before bed owing to its high caffeine content. Nevertheless, two components in Pu erh Tea, Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) and theanine, can increase the production of natural melatonin in the brain, thus stabilising moods and improving your chances of getting a good night’s rest.
Furthermore, relaxing with a nice, hot cup of Puerh Tea might act as a de-stressor in another way, too. In fact, according to new research, chronic stress disrupts our sleep and our blood sugar levels.
This leads to increased hunger and comfort eating. Eventually, this can lead to even higher levels of stress and even more disrupted blood sugars. Not only might this cause unhealthy levels of body fat, but also an increased risk of Type II Diabetes. The solution to this is simple: stop, then brew up a cup of Pu erh Tea. Could it be any easier than that?
Caffeine in Pu erh Tea
Would you believe that high caffeine content can benefit your health? One Puerh Tea Benefits, for example, contains between 60 and 70 milligrams of caffeine per 8 oz cup, making it an excellent choice for boosting mental alertness.
Struggling to get out of bed in the morning? Consider drinking Pu erh Tea to start your day off the right way. It comes as a surprise to many but one of the Pu erh Tea benefits is it can simultaneously keep your mind “on the ball” while also helping you to relax. Essentially, it is the perfect middle ground.
Less of a “scientific” benefit and more of a spiritual one, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine Pu erh Tea can make you feel better after a “night on the town”.
Although there are no studies for this particular health benefits, TCM believes that drinking Puerh Tea can lessen the symptoms of headaches and nausea.
It all bores down to the Chinese belief of “Chi”, which is said to rebalance the energy in your body. However, for those who prefer to practice modern medicine, then it should also be noted that Puerh Tea contains high water content (obviously) and can provide hydration after the painful effects of alcohol overconsumption.
Good for Hangovers
Yes, you read that right - Pu erh Tea has been said to help with those nasty hangovers! Had a night on the town, and now regret it? This delicious brew might just be the answer. Although no official studies have been conducted in recent years, traditional Chinese medicine has long since recognised Pu-erh Tea benefits to lessen the symptoms of headaches and nausea.
It all bores down to the Chinese belief of ‘Chi’ - which is said to rebalance the energy in your body. However, for those who prefer to practice modern medicine, this brew also contains high water content, and can provide hydration after the severe effects of alcohol consumption.
Where to Buy Pu erh Tea
Whether you prefer your Pu erh Loose Tea or in tea cake form, we are here to provide you with a wide selection of choice! If you like to keep things simple, then why not begin with our traditional loose leaf Pu Erh Tea? This particular variety is brimming with trademark mellow flavours and a sweet, delectable aftertaste.
We also have Pu erh Special 3 Year Old Vintage Tea, for those who want an aged Pu erh. This beverage is high-grown and hand-crafted, boasting a beautiful deep burgundy colour when brewed. It consists of defined earthy notes and is, without a doubt, one of our favourites!
Looking for something a little different? We also have a Scottish Caramel Toffee Pu erh Tea, a 3 year old vintage tea which combines powerful earthy flavours with rich, sweet notes of caramel and toffee. Scotland meets China in a cup!