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Pu-erh Tea 101

Pu-erh or Puer tea (Chinese: 普洱茶; pinyin: pǔ'ěrchá) is a special tea, named after Pu'er county in Yunnan, China. It is an unusual tea, because unlike other teas which are consumed shortly after production, it can be over 50 years old and is usually aged at least 1-4 years. Over this time it acquires an earthy flavour due to fermentation which in some cases may result in a layer of mold that develops on the leaves.

In Cantonese culture, pu-erh is known as po-lay, bo-lay tea, or bo-nay tea and is often drunk during dim sum meals with family and friends, as it is believed to help with digestion. Pu-erh is considered a medicinal tea in China.

The Pu-erh tea has been subject to a number of health studies. A number of medical studies have substantiated claims that the tea helps reduce cholesterol levels and saturated fats in human; it could assist in weight loss.

Unlike other varieties of tea, Pu-erh tea is traditionally made with older leaves (not the first flush or budding leaves) from tall and old trees. These trees are of a type only found in Yunnan Province, known as broad leaf tea. The leaves are covered with fine hairs, are larger than other tea leaves, and have a different chemical composition. The leaves are then left green or moderately fermented before being dried. Often times the tea is then formed into cakes or bricks, wrapped in paper or pomello rinds, and stored outside exposed to moisture, air, and heat in order to further mature. Then the tea is stored underground for several years before taking on the darker, mellower characteristics that make Pu'erh tea. This type of tea originated from the natural aging process that happened along the ancient caravan routes, and the tea bricks were at times used as a form of currency. The tea bricks developed a unique flavor that was then refined by aficionados. One of the most expensive and rare Pu'erh teas is made from the droppings of worms that eat stored Pu'erh bricks.

Many have mistakenly categorised Pu-erh as a sub class of black tea, due to its dark color. In fact, it is impossible to process Pu-Erh from black tea. There are 2 major categories of Pu-erh:

  • Green (青 qīng ) This tea, after drying, is left unadultered to age naturally. Though it takes longer to mature, it is considered superior by afficionados. 
  • Cooked (熟 shú ) This tea is manipulated to accelerate the ageing process. Also known as Mutual or Oolong. 

Pu-erh, as with Chinese black teas, and especially Yunnan teas, is generally expected to be served Gong-Fu style, generally in Yixing teaware. The tea is often steeped for long periods of time and can acquire a dark brown/black color, as dark as strong coffee. Because of the prolonged fermentation and oxidization pu-erh often fails to develop the bitter, astringent properties of other teas, and can be brewed much stronger and for hours.

Above retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pu-erh_tea"

Pu-erh teas come from Yunnan province and improve with age. Some are still drinkable at age 50. They come in green, black, white and brick tea. These are teas with medicinal qualities, highly prized by the connoisseur. Tea leaves are withered, then, still slightly moist, they're heaped into piles where a bacterium creates a reaction. The leaves are then dried loose or compressed into tea bricks or cakes.

The peoples of the Yunnan-Tibet border have drunk pu-erh since the Tang dynasty, according to a Song dynasty scientific reference. The troops of Kublai Khan, "pacifying" the southwest after the 13th century Mongol conquest, are said to have introduced pu-erh to the rest of China for its medicinal value. Bricks of pu-erh tea constituted the first medium of monetary exchange used by nomads beyond the Great Wall of China, recorded in Chinese records as early as A.D. 476.

The aroma and flavor are earthy, and pu-erh is often blended with other teas. It is said to help lower blood cholestrol levels and increase metabolism.

Positive Effect of Yunnan Pu-erh Tea
Catechin, also called Tannin, is a bioflavonoid that has both antiviral and antioxidant qualities. It helps to prevent cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Catechin also has many positive cholesterol-lowering effects. It helps to clear blocked veins and arteries, allowing your blood flow more smoothly. Some studies show that catechin may help prevent strokes, heart attacks, blood clots and even heart disease. Amazingly, catechin also protects the entire body from oxidative damage due to free radicals and other toxins in our environment.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C, Catechin, and Vitamin E work together to enhance immune function. These three nutrients also help to make your skin more beautiful by reducing blemishes, wrinkles and sun damage. Vitamin C found in green tea is water-soluble, but its potency is not reduced by the heat used in brewing tea.

Amino Acid
Tea is the only plant that makes the amino acid Theanine. Theanine stimulates alpha-brainwaves which are associated with a relaxed but alert mental state. It helps relax the mind allowing one to focus on the task at hand. Catechin is bitter and Theanine is sweet. These two elements create a perfect balance of taste.

The mild caffeine in pu-erh tea has been found to increase cognitive performance, alertness, and energy. It can also help with weight loss through its stimulating and mild diuretic effects. The green teas have the lowest caffeine content.

The bioflavonoids found in green tea help to keep your teeth and gums healthy. You can gargle with green tea after brushing your teeth to kill germs and prevent bad breath.

Tea is rich in minerals, including manganese, potassium and calcium, which help to alkalinize the blood, regulate the heartbeat, and build strong teeth and bones.

After Teatime: Tips of Used tealeaves
Even after teatime, used tea leaves can benefit your daily life!

Green tea leaves have an amazing deodorizing effect. For example, you can burn dried used tea leaves as incense. The smoke will eliminate odors and make your room smell fresh. You can also put dried used tea leaves in your shoes to remove bad odors. Odors on cooking equipment like cutting boards and cooking pots can be removed by wiping them with damp used tea leaves.

Wiping a steel pot or knife with used tealeaves can prevent the item from rusting. Tannin, an ingredient of pu-erh tea, makes an anti-rust coating on the surface of steel.

Antiseptic Effect
Tea leaves have an antiseptic and astringent effect. You can gargle with green tea to kill germs or use as a topical antiseptic or astringent to keep your skin beautiful and healthy.


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