If you are a tea lover with a preference for exotic varieties, then you may be accustomed with pu-erh tea, a drink known for its rich, distinct flavor. Named after a city in Yunnan region of China where it is primarily produced, pu-erh tea is said to boast of a wide range of health benefits ranging from weight loss and bone health to cancer prevention and cholesterol reduction.
Like black tea, white tea, and green tea, pu-erh tea is made from leaves of Camellia Sinensis plant. The only difference between it and other teas, and what makes it distinct in terms of taste and health benefits it provides is the specialized process in which it is made.
Unlike most teas, pu-erh tea goes through a post-fermentation process. In other words, it goes through aging and fermentation process.
The process begins with the farmers picking the best-quality leaves from Camellia Sinensis plant. This part is important to ensure your tea has the right flavor and taste. After that, the tea leaves are left to wither after which they are put into a bowl and cooked.
The cooked leaves are then rolled to bruise the leaves after which they are sun-dried to make them loosen up. This whole process takes over 60 days to complete, which makes it one of the most prized teas. The long processing time is what makes this tea quality and tasteful.
There are two different varieties of pu-erh tea- green tea and black tea. The green version, also known as Sheng pu-erh, is not fermented. On the hand, black tea, also known as Shou, is fully fermented.
In terms of taste, this tea has a smooth taste. It has a mildly sweet flavor and an aroma of autumn leaves. When brewed, it forms a brown to black color. A unique characteristic of this tea is that it improves flavor and taste over time, which means the more aged pu-erh tea is, the sweeter it gets.
This tea is known to have a role in helping digestion and reducing cholesterol, refreshing the mind thanks to its caffeine content, and it is great for providing relief from a hangover after heavy alcohol drinking as it dispels the effects of alcohol accumulation in the body.
Keep in mind that this tea is caffeinated and thus is best consumed in the morning with your breakfast and early afternoon to boost your energy levels.
Let’s now discuss pu-erh tea benefits.
It is important to keep cholesterol levels regulated because excessive cholesterol levels in the body can be dangerous for your health. Drinking pu-erh tea every day can help keep cholesterol levels low.
A study carried out at China’s Kunming Medical College on 86 patients who had unusually high cholesterol levels in their blood showed that pu-erh tea is highly effective at reducing the levels of cholesterol, and thus keeping the cardiovascular system healthy.
The study was comparing how pu-erh tea is effective at reducing cholesterol with PCIB, a drug meant for lowering cholesterol levels in the body. 55 of the participants drunk a cup of pu-erh tea 3 times a day while the rest received the drug.
Participants who were drinking pu-erh tea showed 64.29 percent reduction in cholesterol in their blood, while those using the drug showed a 66.67 percent reduction. The difference between the two was insignificant, which led to the conclusion that this tea is effective at reducing cholesterol levels in the body.
In another study aimed at testing the effectiveness of fermented (black) and non-fermented (green) pu-erh tea, it was found that this powerful tea is efficient in lowering high cholesterol levels in the body. This study was done on rats, and the results were positive. (1)
Therefore, we can comfortably say that drinking 2-3 cups of pu-erh tea every day can help keep your heart and whole cardiovascular system healthy.
As we age, our bones lose their density and begin to weaken. This puts us at a greater risk of getting bone conditions such as osteoporosis, a condition that mostly affects older people. There are many things that can make your bones to weaken, including deficiency of important minerals and vitamins, as well as inactivity. Drinking alcohol and smoking can also contribute to developing bone diseases.
However, you can improve your bone health by drinking tea, especially pu-erh tea, which is known to have polyphenols that can help you get better bone health and higher bone mass. Polyphenols also contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidants properties that help to minimize joint pain and discomfort.
Pu-erh tea is sourced from leaves of Camellia Sinensis plant, which means it is rich in antioxidants. Specifically, this tea is rich in an antioxidant compound called catechin, which is believed to have anti-carcinogenic properties.
The green version of pu-erh tea is known to have a high concentration of catechins. Catechins are believed to have the ability to prevent cancer cells from developing in the body.
However, studies on this claim are still lacking with most of them having been conducted on animals. Those made on human patients are still not yet proven, and there is a debate on how effective pu-erh tea is when it comes to fighting and preventing cancer. However, this tea has antioxidants, which are believed to help the body fight cancer. (2)
Pu-erh tea has oxidative properties that increase the level of oxygen in the blood, thereby enhancing circulation. By delivering more oxygen to essential organs in the body such as brain, it helps to speed up recovery and combat illnesses such as migraines and headaches.
In China, pu-erh tea is used to aid stomach and spleen in flushing toxins from the body. This tea has simple sugars that help spleen eliminate free radicals and cleanse blood. (3)
Therefore, drinking a cup or two of pu-erh tea on a daily basis can help to cleanse your body and enable internal organs to perform their functions optimally.
Pu-erh was used by Chinese people to help maintain healthy body weight, and you too can use it to keep excess weight at bay.
In a study done by the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the USA, it was revealed that pu-erh can help in reducing body weight.
What’s more, the study concluded that pu-erh is more efficient in reducing body weight than any other tea variety. The compounds thought to be responsible for anti-obesity properties are the antioxidants such as catechins as well as caffeine. (4)
As mentioned earlier, pu-erh tea has caffeine and thus can help boost energy levels and improve focus. Every 8-ounce cup of this tea contains 60-70mg of caffeine compared to 105mg in a cup of coffee. Therefore, pu-erh tea is a better choice for people who don’t like drinking coffee.
Caffeine also helps to improve mental focus, and thus it’s great to help you go through tough, boring afternoons. Drinking a cup of pu-erh tea can help you to focus better and feel energized.
This is a benefit many people will be delighted to see. Pu-erh has weight loss properties, and study has shown that this tea can suppress the body's ability to store fat.
The caffeine in it, which increases energy levels by boosting metabolism, makes it a great drink for weight loss. Besides, it blocks visceral fat, which is not healthy fat.
Of course, this is a great benefit, but it doesn't make this tea an overnight fat burner that can work on its own. You need to add dieting and exercising to your routine. This tea will only help to accelerate your weight loss.
Due to its antioxidants, pu-erh can help fight off sickness and diseases. Antioxidants fight off flus and colds. However, it is important to note that, pu-erh tea do not have a high amount of antioxidants because of the long-fermentation process it goes through when being prepared, which makes it lose most of its antioxidants.
However, it still has anti-inflammatory properties which help to fight germs and keep your body healthy.
Although this tea contains caffeine, it can help you relax and reduce stress. This is because of the presence of Theanine and GABA, two neurotransmitters that can help you relax. The two increases the production of melatonin, which improves your sleep quality and keeps you in good mood.
For stomach and intestine to digest food and break it down into its respective nutrients, there has to be healthy bacteria and micro-organism that do this work.
Pu-erh tea is known to increase healthy bacteria in the stomach and gut, and this aids digestion. Therefore, drinking this tea after a meal can be beneficial. (5)
There you have them- 10 health benefits of pu-erh tea. Before we wind up this post, let’s discuss how to make pu-erh tea.
After purchasing your tea leaves, either in loose-leaf or solid cake form, preparing it is easy.
Step 1- Measure 3-4 grams of this tea for every 200ml of water
Step 2- Add your loose leaves or a piece of pu-erh cake to your tea infuser
Step 3- Add water and stir it
Step 4- Discard this water and add hot water to the leaves. Allow them to steep for 3-4 minutes
Step 5- Remove the infuser and add your favorite sweetener such as honey to counter its mild, bitter taste
Enjoy your tea.
Overall, pu-erh tea boost your immune system, keep cholesterol level at a minimum, reduce stress, and improves heart health, among other things. That's why it is a healthy addition to your diet.
It is important to mention that more research needs to be done to prove most of the above benefits beyond doubt.