In a similar fashion to the great wine regions of the world the production of Pu’erh tea is highly regulated to ensure the best quality and authenticity.
Imagine comparing a tea to a wine. Well Pu’erh tea can be defined in exactly the same way as a good wine. Only recently discovered by the West this Chinese treasure shares many attributes of a fine wine. Known also as aged or vintage tea, only tea from the Yunnan Province of China can be called Pu’erh Tea.
The longer it ages the more valuable it becomes and as it matures so too does the taste and quality improve. Pu’erh tea is drinkable after three month but it is only after 5 years that it develops its unique and aged character. In fact the longer the storage, the better the tea gets.
Some vintages are very famous and very rare, with natural undertones of fruit, date, plum, wood, earth and flowers. Just like wine, there are affordable Pu-Erh teas for every taste and budget and there are eager collectors looking for rare “vintages” that can fetch tens of thousands of dollars.
In the region where it is grown, some trees are said to be over 1000 years old , leaves picked from these old trees are known as ‘wild arbor’. In the West, what is known as the Chinese Black Teas are actually “Red Teas” in China. The true Black Teas as they are known in China are the post-fermented (aged) teas, of which the Pu-Erh family of teas is the most famous.
The tea is produced by a process in which the tea leaves undergo microbial fermentation and oxidation after they are dried and rolled. After processing, for both green and black varieties, the leaves are then left as loose leaves or compressed into the following shapes: Brick, Cake, Bell and Mushroom.
After forming, the tea is stored in warm and moist cellars which allows subtle chemical processes to further mature and mellow the tea over time.
HOW TO DRINK PU’ERH TEA:
1. Only a small bit is required and can be used more than five times.
2. Break off a small piece. No bigger than a pinch.
3. Exposing the tea to air is called “waking up the tea’
4. Be careful not to ‘burn’ the tea, use hot not boiling water
5. Add the water to the tea in a teapot and let it ‘brew’ for a few minutes
6. Using a tea strainer, pour your tea into a cup.
7. Do not add sugar, honey or anything else
Although Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests many benefits of drinking Pu’erh tea there is very little modern scientific research that supports the suggested benefits.
Below are a few of health benefits of drinking Pu’erh tea, however, it is not a recommendation as treatment for any ailment. Rather, just enjoy drinking the tea to enjoy its flavour and the experience of trying something new.
Traditional Chinese Health Benefits:
1. Antioxidant Powerhouse:
Antioxidants contained in tea are able to neutralize the destructive properties of oxygen and free radicals.
2. Skin Protection & cancer prevention:
The EGCG rich polyphenols in Pure-eh tea protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation and skin tumor formation.
3. Reduced Risk of Stroke:
Flavonoids in Pure-eh tea are theorized to improve the lining of blood vessels, which may account for the decreased risk.
4. Reduces “bad” Cholesterol:
Tea polyphenols may limit the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, thus reducing it’s levels in the blood.
5. Oral Health and Prevention of Tooth Decay and Bad Breath:
Polyphenols found in pure-eh tea can block bacteria from producing foul-smelling compounds like hydrogen sulfide in the mouth. Studies show the tannin and fluoride content present in tea prevents tooth decay.
6. Burns Calories:
Pu’erh tea’s antioxidants stimulate the body to burn calories, specifically fat.
7. Reduced Risk of Kidney Stones:
Pu’erh tea acts as a diuretic, (stimulating the flow of urine) and promoting better kidney functions and helps the digestion process.
8. Slows the Aging Process:
Pu’erh tea has been proven to reduce infections and stress of bacteria on your immune system thereforesignificantly slowing down the ageing process.
DID YOU KNOW
Blood cells from tea drinkers respond 5 times faster to germs than those of coffee drinkers.
Aged Pu-Erh Teas are lower in caffeine than younger ones.