Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pu Erh -- A tea worth waiting for

Dr. Oz mentioned Pu Erh tea on a broadcast this past week... This made it a very busy Pu Erh week in the shop ... So what is Pu Erh?

Pu Erh (pronounced "POO-ar" or POO-Er... POO-AIR is okay too) comes from Yunnan province in China, which is considered to be the birthplace of tea, and traditionally is harvested from ancient wild trees rather than hip-high bushes. Unlike other varieties of tea, it is harvested throughout the year with no particular season as the trees do not require the dormant period required by Camelia sinensis bushes. The processing of Pu Erh is much like that of black tea, but with a few differences. The tea is only partially fired, allowing some moisture to remain in the leaves. The leaves are then piled or sometimes pressed into a cake form. The natural bacterium on the leaves creates a reaction similar to that of a compost pile. The tea is then aged in special underground rooms or caves, adding to its unique earthy character.

Pu Erh is the only tea that is intentionally aged. This aging process causes the tea to take on an earthy aroma. The taste is often different than the aroma. Typically, the longer the tea is aged, the smoother its flavor. Many give this tea credit for restoring and maintaining good health.

Since the time of the Tang Dynasty, Chinese have drunk this tea after rich meals to ``cut the grease’’. In the 1970's Chinese doctors in Kunming reported clinical experiments in which drinking pu erh was shown to lower cholesterol levels in the blood stream. French researchers at St. Antoine Hospital in Paris duplicated these results with 500 hyperlipidemia patients (individuals with advanced cholesterol conditions) and found that three cups of Pu Erh a day for a month brought lipids down 25 percent in those drinking Pu Erh, while those drinking other teas showed no significant change. These tests further showed Pu Erh performed at least as well as the most advanced medicine for the purpose, without the drug's side effects.

It has since been shown to help reduce body weight by increasing the metabolism. Many report that drinking it after meals relieves any overstuffed feelings and aids digestion. A in-shop 2 week study at SensibiliTeas showed that 3 cups a day with no other changes to diet or lifestyle, resulted in a slow, steady weight loss, and an average cholesterol of 60 points. Participants also saw a reduction in C-reactive protein levels. (participants were required to have a physical before and after the study)

  • Aids digestion
  • May help reduce cholesterol levels
  • May assist with weight loss efforts
  • May reduce blood alcohol levels
  • May increase metabolism
  • May reduce C-reactive protein levels
Pu Erh is available in various forms at SensibiliTeas. I have a few Pu Erh cakes, but our best seller is Immortal Nectar ... a Pu Erh harvested in 1997. I also have it in other loose leaf variets, including a Scottish Caramel Toffee Pu Erh and a Strudel Pu Erh (Pu Erh with cinnamon, vanilla & mint) the form of Tuo Cha (handformed into the shape of a tiny birds nest) , or loose but packed into mandarin oranges.

Pu Erh, due to its aging, is different than any other tea you'll ever drink. It's bold but never bitter. It's earthy, but smooth. It's fabulous with spicy food, and a hit with those trying to switch to tea from coffee. Proven to do all it's advertised to do ... it's certainly worth a try!

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