I actually am not keen on "toilet humour" but it is hard to ignore the connotations of the name of this tea in the English language. However, it is worth getting over this small hiccup because it is definitely one of my favourite teas and well worth trying. I love the earthy woody taste and lack of any bitterness, no matter how long brewed.
It also known traditionally for numerous health benefits. Most notable are to:
- Balance Gut Bacteria & Improve Digestion
- Lower Cholesterol & Blood Sugar Levels
- Improve Sleep Quality & Strengthen Bone Health
Pu-erh helps the body produce lovastatin, a natural statin that is commonly used to treat high cholesterol. It also contains the phyto-chemicals GABA and theanine, which have been attributed to lower stress levels. These phyto-chemicals increase the production of melatonin, which can calm the nervous system and aid a night of better sleep. It encourages your body to produce the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, which work to reduce stores of fatty acids. Polyphenols can help to develop higher bone mass and greater bone strength.
HISTORY Pu-erh comes from the Yunnan Province in China and is sometimes called the "Tea of Longevity". It is thought to have been originally invented by mistake when the "Tea Horse Road Traders" carried damp tea shaped into cakes in their saddlebags, causing micro-organic fermentation to start. These were then often stored for long periods in the dark and developed deep and rich flavours. It can be helpful to think of it like a good Scotch Whiskey or Port if you are more used to this.
- Sometimes black teas are called fermented but in reality, are only oxidised. Pu-erh is very special because the leaves are really fermented.
- Many of the health benefits currently attributed to Kombucha are also available with Pu-erh. This makes it an easy and very cost-effective drink to get these benefits and great if you want a hot drink, not something cold and fizzy.
- Whilst it has a more earthy taste, it basically tastes like plain black tea and you can even add milk and sugar if this is how you prefer your cuppa.
- Pu-erh is often called "weight loss" tea and in recent years is one of the main ingredients featuring in popular "miracle" products.
- Pu-erh is the only tea that improves with age and the most expensive can be over 30 years old and can sell for thousands of dollars a kilo.
A more modern process of producing Pu-erh re-hydrates the leaves after fermentation and accelerates the production. I stock a loose-leaf version of this classic tea which is about 2 - 3 years old and much more accessible to most of us both in price and in the loose-leaf form is much easier to use rather than bricks, cakes or "touchas". I tend to think of it a bit like wine - sure the more expensive can be brilliant for special occasions but not on my list for daily consumption and there is still great quality to be found at every day prices if you are careful to source it.
If you are interested in trying other types of traditional Pu-erh in the cake form I can supply it to order. Please contact me by email and I will quote you on the current prices and availability.