King of Tea: Curative and Preventive Powers of Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh Tea
Pu-erh Tea

Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world. ~T'ien Yiheng

Green tea has long stolen the limelight—what can this starlet not do? From banishing bad breath to trimming inches off the waist, green tea has all the answers. Now, along comes Pu-erh tea—kind of like the new kid on the block (it’s still bashful but it holds tremendous health capabilities ) but actually this tea has a long history of medicinal use—a 2,000 year history tracing back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 to 220 AD). Hailed from a small town called Pu-erh (hence the name) in the Yunnan province, it has been used for generations in China for its preventive and curative properties. Regarded by tea connoisseurs as the King of Tea, Pu-erh tea was once used as a form of currency in China and premium brands were often used as a tribute tea to the Emperors of China. To this day, it remains a highly valuable commodity and recent researches have uncovered bold health claims that are certain to put Pu-erh tea into the spotlight.

Freshly picked tea leaves
Freshly picked tea leaves
Loose pu-erh tea leaves
Loose pu-erh tea leaves
Compressed Pu-erh
Compressed Pu-erh

Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage. ~Catherine Douzel

What is Pu-erh Tea?

Pu-erh tea is harvested from a broad-leaved variety of an ancient strain of wild tea tree, otherwise known as Da Ye (direct translation = big leaf). It is picked and then put through a delicate maturation process culminating in the creation of “maocha” or “rough tea.” This rough tea can then undergo one of these two processes. If it is pressed into tea cakes in its raw form, it is known as green pu-erh. The other process is more involved and requires an induced aging process of 30 to 40 days, where the leaves are turned, splashed with water, covered with cloth and left to ferment. Once this fermenting process is achieved, it is then dried and press into tea cakes. The end result is cooked or black pu-erh. This induced speed-up process is developed by the Kunming Tea Factory in 1975 to hasten the process. Traditionally, pu-erh is pressed raw and left to ferment in vault for up to 100 years. And needless to say, like aged wine, aged pu-erh is highly priced and valued.

Pu-er is sold either in the loose leaves or compressed forms in the forms of many shapes, ranging from traditional round cakes to mushrooms, pyramids, coins, bricks and other shapes. The smell is musty and the tea yields a dark, muddy brown with a hint of red liquid when brewed. The taste is earthy yet mellow.

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.  ~Bernard-Paul Heroux

Traditional Use of Pu-erh

The Chinese believe that Pu-erh ta has greater health benefits than other teas. In traditional Chinese medicine, “internal dampness,” refers to a build-up of negative energy from the spleen’s inability to utilize energy that it receives from the stomach. This negative energy can sap the “qi” (pronounced chi) or energy out of a person. Pue-erh has the ability to inhibit this “internal dampness” by invigorating the spleen and the stomach to work in harmony. It is often used to remove toxins from the body, cure dysentery, induce weight loss, improve eye-sight, promote blood circulation and to reduce toxins in alcohol .

I always fear that creation will expire before teatime. ~Sydney Smith

Health Benefits of Pu-erh Tea

Now, more researches have surfaced to back up the health benefits of pu-erh. What are they, you may ask? Well, here are some solid answers:

  • Lower Cholesterol

In a recent study reported by the U.S. Library of Medicine, National Institutes of health, pu-erh exceeded green and black tea’s abilities to lower levels of trigycerides and is more efficient at lowering total cholesterol than oolong or black tea. They also found another twist, one that puts Pu-erh on the cholesterol-lowering pedestal: Pu-erh can both lower bad (LDI) cholesterol and increase good (HDL)cholesterol whereas the other teas tested (black, oolong and green) can only lower the cholesterol levels of both. This is significant as decreasing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol can greatly improve your chance of fighting cardiovascular diseases. Good cholesterol has the ability to diminish bad cholesterol, which further reduces the levels of bad cholesterol.

So add pu-erh tea drinking to other cholesterol fighting foods like avocados, nuts and omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other cold-water fish.

Tea is a cup of life. ~Author Unknown

  • Weight Loss

For many, weight loss can be a constant battle. Fad diets can only do so much—fast weight loss followed by weight gain unless you have the stamina to keep up the grueling/punishing routine. What if you can include a beverage that can help you tip the scale a little downwards? Pu-erh is a very natural way of keeping the weight in check.

Pu-erh tea is rich in antioxidants. Together with naturally-occurring caffeine and minerals found in Pu-erh, it helps to suppress fatty acid synthase. This special ability to improve fat metabolism is due to the unique fermentation process to create special enzymes and microbes to produce micronutrients essential for better health—it helps to stimulate a more functional metabolism.

In the Chinese culture, they often drink tea with their meals. They believe that hot tea helps to flush out fats found in food. Try drinking a cup of freshly brewed pu-erh tea with each meal to help burn fats.

  • Improving Qi in the body

Qi is the body’s life energy. When you feel sluggish or listless, your qi is low. Pu-erh can restore qi to the body and revitalize you by boosting the flow of blood and overall circulation. This in turn, is believed to relive minor aches and pains.

  • Remove Toxins

Exposure to pollutants in the air or water, eating foods loaded with chemicals and saturated fats can increase toxins in your body. Toxicity generates damaging free radicals that can give rise to different forms of cancer and ill-health. Pu-erh has high levels of antioxidants, particularly epicatechin, one of its main polyphenols that can capture damaging free radicals. In addition, pu-erh exhibits both antimutagenic and antimicrobial properties, according to a report published in the Food and Science Technology article.

Tea's proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise, and will not use abstinence.  ~Samuel Johnson

How to brew Pu-erh Tea?

With so many health benefits attached to this ancient tea, why not enjoy a cup every day? You can buy Pu-erh tea from Asian grocery markets, specialty tea shops or online stores. Most people think that pressed cakes of Pu-erh tea has higher quality. This is not always the case. The quality of the tea depends on the region of harvest, the tea leaves, and the processing and fermenting process. Some aged Pu-erh (between 10 to 30 years) can cost thousands of dollars.

The best way to brew is to steep Pu-erh in full boiling water (around 93 to 100 degrees Celsius). Leave it in the water for 2 to 5 minutes. It can be infused many times.

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Comments 30 comments

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Thank you, angiwu. I learned so much from this hub about this tea. Thousands on tea??? Who knew! I'll pay for off my student loans first!

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 7 years ago Author

donh, thank you so much for dropping by. Right, it's amazing how much people will pay for food. I definitely have more pressing needs than drink a cuppa worth of thousands.

Appreciate your comments :)

jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

I love tea but this is the first time I heard about Pu-erh tea. I have not seen it around here. Maybe because of its price. Is that really true? - thousands?? Whew!!!

Anyway, thank you for this very informative hub. I also wrote a hub about teas but it's on the other uses of tea since everyone is already familiar with the health benefits of tea.

Ginsengcare profile image

Ginsengcare 7 years ago

It's lot of knowledge about tea. It's a powerful hub for anyone who wants to learn more about tea. Keep it up!

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 7 years ago Author

jill of alltrades, thanks for your comments. Not all pu-erh tea costs thousands of dollars--only very old ones, like aged wine. Thankfully, there are cheaper pu-erh tea around (for people like me:))

I'll be checking your hub on tea. Once again, thank you for dropping by.

Ginsengcare, thanks for your encouraging words. I'll be checking out your hubs.

tim-tim profile image

tim-tim 7 years ago from Normal, Illinois

Thank you so much for sharing. My favorite tea is Jasimine. I like others too. I am sure that there is a lot of benefits of drinking tea. Just wish that is as popular as coffee.

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 7 years ago Author

Thanks for your comments. I love tea too. Sometimes, I used loose tea leaves with some Chinese herbs, like goji berries and fuse them together.

The Green Guru profile image

The Green Guru 7 years ago

I love pu-erh tea. We drink pu-erh tea at my tai chi center. No only is it good for you, it has a delicious earthy taste with sweet fruity undertones. I have tried many teas and pu-erh is one of my favorites.

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 7 years ago Author

Green Guru, good to see you here. Thanks for your very helpful comments--especially helpful since you drink pu-erh tea.

Have a Happy New Year and I'll be seeing you around.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

Thank you so much. I am looking forward to my first cup and to the benefits of using it regularly!

TS Garp profile image

TS Garp 7 years ago

Great post anglnwu! I'm a green tea drinker and didn't know about pu-erh tea. You have so much good info and I the love health benefits of tea. I'll have to run out and go get some pu-erh! Thanks!

TS Garp profile image

TS Garp 7 years ago

Great post anglnwu! I'm a green tea drinker and didn't know about pu-erh tea. You have so much good info and I the love health benefits of tea. I'll have to run out and go get some pu-erh! Thanks!

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 7 years ago Author

TS Garp, thank you for visiting so many of my hubs--I truly appreciate that. Pu-erh is relatively unknown here, but with so many health benefits, I bet it will pretty soon rise to stardom.

Michael 7 years ago

I enjoyed it. I am a coffee drinker who wants to cross over to Tea. Thanks for putting this out there.

nikki1 profile image

nikki1 7 years ago

Hi great hub.. I love warmed ginseng tea.. thanx for sharing

happy post new year :D

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 7 years ago Author

Michael, thanks for dropping by and I appreciate your comments. I wake up to coffee but for most part of the day, I like to drink tea.

Happy New Year to you too, nikki1. Thanks for visiting my hub and yes, hot ginseng tea--yummy. You can also steep slices of ginseng in hot water to make a quite delightful tea.

itakins profile image

itakins 7 years ago from Irl

This has become very popular in Ireland over the past few years-it can now be bought for about €6 a pack in supermarkets.

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 7 years ago Author

Nice to know that you can easily buy pu-erh tea, itakins. I have to hunt it down in the Asian markets or buy it online. Thanks for dropping by.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Recently I heard about this tea - so I appreciate your hub even more with all the pictures and the information. I'm a tea lover and look forward to this tea now. Thanks so much.

Oh, and love your question about olive oil and eyelashes! Of course I left a comment. Thanks so much. Love all your hubs!

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 7 years ago Author

BKCreative, you're the ultimate health guru, so I can't thank you enough for visiting my hub. Appreciate your comments and yes, pu-erh tea is just now surfacing as the new powerful tea, even though it has a long history of use.

LOL on olive and eye-lashes, will be curious to see what you have to say. Thanks.

Melody Lagrimas profile image

Melody Lagrimas 7 years ago from Philippines

I love green tea, but what I regularly drink is senna, have not heard about pu-erh yet.

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 7 years ago Author

Melody, Happy New Year! Glad you love green tea. Pu-erh is relatively new to the market outside China and parts of Asia but I reckon, it will soon be popular.

Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

Great hub anglnwu! Very informative and you're right I love green tea, however had never heard of Pu-erh. But, I definitely will be looking to try it. I'm bookmarking this hub and rating it up, thanks for sharing! :)

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 7 years ago Author

You're so sweet, Money Glitch. Appreciate your comments and yes, hunting for pu-erh can be quite challenging. You can find them easier on the internet than in stores. Thanks for dropping by.

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

green tea wow, very nice informative hub, Pu-erh -- I will look for it at Asian store here, Maita

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Maita, good to see u again. Have u recovered from all the good CNY food? I'm still munching on some of goodies. Pu-erh tea will help us some. Good luck on looking for it in the Asian store. See u around.

Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

I have been meaning to tell you that I shared this hub with my sister, the nurse. She loved your hub so well that she did more research on the internet and then found Pu-erh in a wholefoods store where she lives. She loves it and has it almost everyday. Thanks again for sharing this great info. Thumbs up again! :)

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Money, it's nice to have you visit 2 of my hubs at one go. I'm glad your sister can find pu-erh tea. It does the body good and tell her I appreciate your support. Many thanks for visiting my hub and I'll definitely be seeing you around.

billips profile image

billips 5 years ago from Central Texas

A very informative hub - I am a fan of a good cup of tea - the benefits are certainly an added bonus - enjoyed the Bernard-Paul Heroux quote - regards - B.

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Billips, thanks for dropping by to comment. I love a good cup of tea too.

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