Updated: 5 days ago
Pu'er tea is highly sought after in China's tea market and has become the representative of high-end tea in the eyes of many tea lovers. Nowadays, it has also entered the British tea market but is less well-known. It's time for Brits to discover how special Pu'er tea is!
What is Pu’er tea?
Pu’er is a delicious variety of tea which has numerous health benefits.
Pu'er or pu-erh is a variety of aged, fermented tea traditionally produced in Xishuangbanna, Lincang, Pu’er, and other regions in Yunnan Province within China. Pu’er is usually made from the large leaf (Assamica) variety of the Camellia sinensis tea plant. Pu’er tea undergoes microbial fermentation (called ‘pile fermentation) and is typically applied after the tea leaves have been sufficiently dried and rolled. The tea continues to oxidise until the desired flavours are reached.
Pu’er is a delicious variety of tea that has numerous health benefits, but it is normally reserved for more experienced tea consumers as it’s typically more expensive, generally brewed stronger, and can be difficult to store correctly.
If you’re just starting your tea journey now, we recommend a lighter, easy-drinking smooth tea also from Yunnan, Yunnan black tea.
How many types does Pu’er tea have?
Pu'er tea is classified in a variety of ways by year, region, cultivation, grade, and season.
Pu'er tea can be divided into two categories: raw tea and ripe tea.
Raw tea is made from the fresh tea leaves that are aged naturally after picking, ‘killing green’ (heated to halt oxidation), rolling, and drying in the sun. Freshly made raw Pu’er is dark green, has a strong bitter but sweet taste, and long-lasting aroma, the ‘soup’ (the tea water infusion) is light yellowish-green in colour. Tea leaves after brewing is thick and green. The longer the storage of raw tea, the more mellow the aroma. Raw Pu'er belongs to sun-dried green tea.
Ripe tea is based on raw tea but uses the extra process of wet piling and drying. Artificially added water to raise the temperature to promote bacterial reproduction and accelerate tea ripening and removal bitterness in order to achieve the unique characteristics. Ripe tea is fermented to make the tea milder in flavour. It is silky smooth and mellow, which is more suitable for day to day drinking. The ‘soup’ colour is red and bright, the aroma is earthy with notes of dried fruit and honey, the tea leaves after brewing are red and brown. The scent of ripe tea will become more and more supple and rich with age. Ripe Pu'er falls under a larger category of fermented teas commonly known as dark teas.
Pu'er tea can be also divided into loose tea and compressed tea that has different shapes, such as stacked 'melon pagodas', pillars, calabashes, Yuanbao (an old currency used in China), and small tea bricks (2–5 cm in width). Pu'er is also compressed into the hollow centre of bamboo stems or packed and bound into a ball inside the peel of various citrus fruits.
Aside from the above two classifications, Pu'er tea is classified in a variety of ways by year, region, cultivation, grade, and season.
What are the health benefits of Pu’er tea?
1. Lower blood pressure and resist arteriosclerosis
Pu'er tea is suggested to help reduce lipids, LDL cholesterol, and glycerides. In addition, these nutrients can inhibit the production of angiotensin-converting enzyme, which can prevent the increase of blood pressure, and lower the excessively high blood pressure.
2. Lower fat, lose weight
Pu'er tea itself contains lipase which can affect the decomposition of fat, it can accelerate digestion, food absorption, and fat consumption for people who want to lose fat, and weight.
3. Aids Digestion
Pu'er tea is suggested to help issues to do with the stomach, namely reducing the damage of irritating substances to the gastrointestinal mucosa and helping to prevent ulcers.
4. Bone health
The risk of serious bone conditions such as osteoporosis increases as people get older and can result in hospitalisations in severe cases. Pu'er contains antioxidants that can help to lower oxidative stress and inflammation, thus may benefit overall bone health to lower the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
5. Anti-inflammatory properties
Pu'er tea has a bacteriostatic effect, which is directly related to the rich tea polyphenols contained in tea leaves. It may help ease redness, swelling, and other irritation.
6. Reduce anxiety
Pu’er tea can help reduce stress by helping to regulate and protect the nervous system. The gamma-aminobutyric acid (short for GABA) found in Pu’er tea has been suggested to reduce anxiety levels.
7. Promotes immune system
During the fermentation process, large molecular polysaccharides (carbohydrates) are converted into a large number of new soluble monosaccharides (sugars) and oligosaccharides (sugar polymer) are multiplied. These substances play an important role in improving the function of the human immune system.
Pu’er tea has vitamin E that can aid to clear the body's free radicals and help nourish the skin. In addition, catechin and amino acids contained in Pu'er tea and trace elements such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and other nutrients have great benefits in delaying the ageing process.
Some research suggests that consistent consumption of Pu’er tea can prevent cancer (free radicals). It has been shown to inhibit the growth of tumour cells, but more discussions are needed before your doctor starts recommended tea as a treatment.
10. Promotes a healthy heart
Pu'er tea not only contains rich tea polyphenols but also contains some vitamin C and vitamin P (flavonoid), which can protect cardiovascularly and improve capillary permeability to promote blood circulation. In addition, these substances have an anticoagulant effect that can prevent thrombosis.
What are the warnings of drinking Pu'er tea?
1. It is not advisable to drink strong raw Pu'er tea on an empty stomach.
Drinking tea on an empty stomach will dilute stomach acid, inhibit gastric juice secretion, reduce digestive function, and may even cause phenomena such as palpitations, headache, stomach upset, vertigo, and upset, and affect protein absorption.
2. Avoid drinking or preparing Pu'er tea overnight.
Pu’er contains caffeine which in high doses is a related variety of issues such as agitation and insomnia. After a long period of brewing, tea polyphenols will be oxidised in large quantities, making the tea colour muddy and reducing the health effect.
How do you store Pu’er tea?
1. Dry and ventilated place
Pu'er tea is suitable for storage in a dry and ventilated place. It is best to put it in a pot. The storage location should avoid direct sunlight. Pu’er tea exposed to direct sunlight will accelerate the fermentation of tea leaves to cause tea to taste sour and smell fishy. Opening windows once a day will help the natural fermentation process and also clean out the bad air.
2. Maintain proper temperature
Maintaining an appropriate temperature is necessary for the "ageing" of Pu'er tea. Ideally, the best temperature is between 20-30 degrees celsius.
Pu'er tea is very delicate and can damage easily. Humidity should fall between 50-70%. The packaging it comes in is designed to regulate humidity and protect the tea, if not the original wrapper or box. Wrap them in paper and odourless moisture-absorbing paper, wooden boxes, kraft paper bags, or cotton wrappers. If the humidity is too high, use moisture absorbent, if the space is too damp or too dry consider using a dehumidifier.
4. Avoid strong odours
Pu'er tea should not be put in places with a peculiar smell, because Pu'er tea has a strong odour absorption ability. Make sure Pu’er isn’t stored close to kitchens, bathrooms or any other area with powerful odours from detergents, herbs, etc.