Friday, January 02, 2009

Pu Erh

If people come into the shop looking for the ``weight loss tea’’, I usually recommend one of two teas. One of them is Pu Erh. We'll discuss the other perhaps tomorrow. Pu Erh (pronounced Pu-Air or Pu-Er) comes from Pu Erh county in Hunan province. It is not uncommon for it to be made up of leaves plucked from ancient trees rather than from carefully cultivated bushes. It is a post-fermented tea. This means that all the normal processing to be a black tea, a green tea, or a white tea has already been done, and then the tea is aged. Essentially, it is composted, but likely without the worms and all. While in the past this composting occurred in highly guarded caves belonging to the emperor, it is now likely occurring in a climate controlled setting. During this processing the tea takes on an earthy quality. Tea can then be pressed into cakes or tuo cha, small single servings of Pu Erh that resembles a tiny birds nest (pictured in this post). It is also available in a leaf form, which seems earthier, but more popular due to the ease of preparation. Some say it tastes like dirt. I’ll tell you the black tea version, which is what I carry at the shop, certainly smells earthy. The older it gets, the more mellow it becomes. I find it to be a very smooth, relaxing cup of tea. It is believed that the caffeine level is reduced during processing. The most popular Pu Erh I carry is Immortal Nectar, as found in this collection.
I admit. I hated the first cup I ever drank, but told myself I must be professional about this, and I continued to drink the sample. By the end of the sample, I wanted more. It had become my go-to tea. And I had lost weight, to boot!

While there is no carefully controlled scientific evidence available to support the notion that Pu Erh is effective as a weight loss tea, I’ve had in-shop results. I invited 15 willing participants to drink Immortal Nectar for 10 weeks – one cup with each meal, for a minimum of three cups a day. Many of those participants had physicals before they started so they knew their exact weight, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and C-reactive protein levels. Of the 16 participants, 15 lost weight. After 6 weeks, we started receiving reports about cholesterol and triglyceride levels being greatly reduced.

Cholesterol reduction was the most popular result. After 6 weeks, the average cholesterol reduction was 60 points. One woman saw a reduction of 123 points while another saw a reduction of 102 points. When someone comes to the shop looking for Pu Erh now, it is not uncommon to learn that they have been sent by a doctor. For many, this may be an easy all-natural, organic way to avoid being put on cholesterol reduction meds.

Together they lost 164 lbs. The participant who gained weight (6 lbs.) learned that drinking this tea was not a license to eat Crispy Creme donuts for breakfast and lunch. May common sense prevail.

Love spicy food? Pu Erh is the perfect spicy meal complement.

I asked the father of a Chinese friend of mine how he could explain the effectiveness of Pu Erh in a weight management program. He surprising replied … ``Maybe it’s not the tea.’’ He went on to explain he theory that historically, Chinese consume most meals with a cup of tea while Americans take their meals with a cold beverage. And then he asked ``if you are going to put grease down the drain, would you follow it with hot water, or cold water?’’

Could it be that simple?
Well worth a try, I’d guess. And why not make tea that hot beverage?

No historical facts or links today, so instead I leave you with this simple thought:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
-- Margaret Mead (1901-1973)


  1. Donnalynn, Great start for your blog! I really enjoyed reading it and may have to try some it.
    Have a great 2009!

  2. Thanks for the feedback Loris! Given your love a English Breakfast you might be able to adapt to this fairly well!
    You have a great 2009 as well!
    donnalynn, teasmith

  3. I thought this tea tasted like dirt and after the first sip stated I 'm not drinking this. Luckily Donna made me try a second sip and I became hooked. I'm hoping to see some of the weight loss now that I have stopped buying Krispy Kreme donuts. :)


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