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Is Pu'er Tea Healthy?
The list of reasons to drink tea is growing all the time. For one, it’s delicious, of course! Tea’s flexibility has long been appealing to people around the world, and its impressive variety alone is enough of a temptation for collectors to fill their cupboards with their favorites. Tea also holds crucial cultural significance in a number of countries, and the complexity of its history is mind-boggling to casual tea drinkers and history buffs alike.
However, it can be argued that one of the most important reasons to drink tea is for an impressive wellness boost. Pu’er tea (or pu-erh tea) is certainly no exception to this rule, and for centuries it has been cherished as a healthy tea full of benefits for both the palate and the body.
What is Pu’er Tea?
Pu’er, or pu-erh, as it is often referred to, is a type of dark tea or fermented tea. Fermented tea is a class of tea which has been exposed to humidity and oxygen and undergone controlled microbial fermentation. This process gives the tea a darker color and a depth of flavor.
Prior to the processing and fermentation responsible for making pu’er, pu’er begins as a subspecies of the Camellia sinensis plant—the assamica strain. Similar to champagne’s status among wine – for tea to be called pu’er, this particular variety of Camellia sinensis must be grown in China’s Yunnan Province, where Pu’er city is located.
True tea enthusiasts are attracted to pu’er tea for its distinct aroma and flavor. Like vintage or aged wines, connoisseurs of pu’er tea have to find the one that suits them the best.
The Story Behind This Complex Tea
While pu’er tea is coveted by tea enthusiasts for its layered flavors and aroma, those aren’t the only things which make this tea so special. Behind each cup of pu’er is a long origin story full of culture and history just as rich as its taste.
Pu’er tea has been around for thousands of years,and it’s known to originate from the Yunnan Province of southwest China. Thanks to the ancient tea trade, pu’er’s popularity has expanded far beyond the Yunnan Province and now transcends international borders.
As far back as the Tang Dynasty, pu’er tea was being traded along the Tea Horse Road.
Over time, pu’er became more and more popular, and its demand in far-away regions rose. Traders struggled at first to prevent the tea from spoiling as travel times grew longer and longer to keep up with increasing demand. Finally, these suppliers noticed that fermentation kept the leaves fresh, and this discovery encouraged the pu’er trade even further.
Better yet, this fermentation was quickly discovered to change pu’er’s flavor for the better. The longer the leaves were allowed to ferment during extended journeys, the better the tea tasted. This is where the concept of aged tea, particularly fermented aged teas like pu’er, began.
A Tea With a Multitude of Health Benefits
Incredible flavors and fascinating origins aside, worldwide desire for pu’er tea has continued to grow as more and more discoveries have been made regarding its host of health benefits. As pu’er traders from years past continued to provide their product to eager customers, pu’er tea drinkers soon noticed differences in their health.
Lovers of pu’er will be happy to know that these observations weren’t just wishful thinking! Now, with improved scientific methods and new technologies at the fingertips of curious academics, researchers are finding evidence to support these long-lived claims. As you are enjoying your cuppa, it is also helping you in ways you hadn’t imagined.
The following ten health benefits of pu’er tea could make anyone want to brew a pot.
1. Pu’er Tea for Weight Loss
Studies have shown that drinking pu’er tea regularly helps weight loss and reduction in the Body Mass Index (BMI).
It prevents the body from absorbing the fats and lipids in the diet which contribute to weight gain. Fats, when absorbed, tend to accumulate along the waist-line. Pu’er tea helps you control your waist-line by controlling absorption of fat.
2. Pu’er Tea for Digestion
Research has proven pu’er tea helps digestion of fats and lipids. This is the underlying reason behind the weight loss caused by pu’er tea. However, this also helps manage symptoms of a condition called Metabolic Syndrome.
Not only that, pu’er tea helps balance the good, helpful bacteria in the intestine. These bacteria play an important role in maintaining the general health of the digestive system.
3. Pu'er Tea for Diabetes Maintenance and Prevention
The journal Food & Function published a study in 2015 demonstrating that pu’er tea decreased blood sugar in vitro and in mice. This has incredible implications for those with diabetes and individuals considered “pre-diabetic,” meaning that they are at a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.
4. Pu'er Tea for Cardiovascular Wellness
The relationship between pu’er tea and cholesterol is one of the most popular health discussions around, since drinking pu’er tea on a regular basis has been shown to lower cholesterol levels in the body. A 2009 study from Experimental Gerontology demonstrated that the “bad” type of cholesterol, called LDL, was lowered in rats treated with extracts of pu’er tea. On the other hand, “good” cholesterol (HDL) was increased. Due to these lipid-lowering properties, pu’er can play a significant role in reducing the risk of heart disease.
5. Pu'er Tea for Antioxidants
Like other teas, pu’er tea is rich in antioxidants, meaning that it is capable of protecting cells against something called free radical damage. According to Mayo Clinic, free radicals may be partially responsible for the onset of serious health conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
6. Pu’er Tea for Better Skin
Pu’er tea also protects the elastin in the skin. Progressive loss of elastin is the main cause of skin aging. One of the benefits of drinking pu’er tea regularly is that it keeps the skin healthy by reducing the effects of sun damage.
Plus, the anti-bacterial characteristics of pu’er tea may even be able to protect your body from harmful bacteria. While some bacteria live naturally within the body and work for good, other bacteria can cause illness and acne. For this reason, it’s possible that regularly consuming pu’er tea (or even spritzing it on the face as part of a skincare routine) can improve acne and clear the skin.
7. Pu'er Tea for Cognitive Health
A lot of scientific research has centered around the effect pu’er tea has on the brain. Pu’er tea keeps the brain healthy and can help manage brain-related conditions like epilepsy, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease etc.
8. Pu'er Tea for Bone Health
Osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weak and brittle, is a particular concern for aging women. Osteoporosis onset may result from hormonal changes commonly experienced during menopause or due to calcium and vitamin D deficiencies. Scientists in China designed an experiment to investigate whether or not pu’er tea could protect against osteoporosis, and their results were promising.
9. Pu'er Tea for Anxiety Reduction
Over 18% of American adults feel the daily effects of anxiety disorders. Pu’er tea contains a substance called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA, for short), which has been known within scientific and medical communities as a potential way to decrease anxiety.
10. Pu'er Tea for Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Some compounds found in high amounts within both raw and ripe pu’er tea are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. A couple of these substances, including compounds called asperglaucide and neoechinulin A, are actually produced by some of the microbes involved in pu’er’s fermentation process.
Clearly, pu’er tea is not just an enjoyable drink, but it has hidden health benefits also. Of course, if you have any of the conditions listed here, it is important to consult your physician. Let your health provider know if you’re planning on using pu’er tea as a supplement to benefit your health or improve symptoms of a particular condition.
Additionally, pu’er tea does contain caffeine, so those with caffeine sensitivities should be careful to avoid overzealous pu’er consumption. Instead, these individuals are likely to appreciate only a few cups a day while being cognizant of caffeine’s effects.
Trying It Out
When you’re ready to take the plunge and try aged pu’er tea to improve your health, or if you’re simply excited to experience its smooth, complex tasting notes for the first time, it can be difficult to wade through the pu’er on the shelves and on the web to decide on a particular selection. If you have not yet settled on where to buy pu’er, our introductory aged tea sampler set can help you out.
We are a single-origin tea company and experts in aged tea. You can trust that our carefully curated sets will be the perfect gateway to discovering aged tea for yourself. You can try pu’er tea at Mansa Tea in NYC, or we can ship to you for free wherever you are in the US.
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