Pu-erh Tea: Aged To Perfection
If you're a tea connoisseur, you stock your pantry with golden tippy black teas and rich, umami Japanese greens. There are many delicious avenues to explore in the delightful world of high-quality tea.
Tea's incredibly complex history and popularity worldwide offer a robust selection sure to please any palate. There is a little-known tea in the mix that packs just as much flavor as it does history.
Meet pu-erh, China's aged and fermented tea! Pu-erh has a deep woody character and a dark, enchanting body. Like fine wines and whiskeys, pu-erh tea matures. Time alone contributes to its complexity.
An Elusive History
The history of pu-erh tea is as obscure as the tea itself. Most report that the invention of pu-erh tea is relatively new, only dating back to the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century. Others date it back to the 9th century Tang Dynasty.
Still, others claim that the lower classes consumed it before that, and the wealthy did not look favorably upon its consumption. Whatever the origin story, it became popular again in the 90s, as tea drinkers began to explore the incredible complexity of tea culture in all its forms.
What sets pu-erh apart from other varieties of tea? Once picked, bacterial growth and microbial fermentation are encouraged.
After drying the leaves, processors move the tea to a moist, anaerobic environment. There, heat builds, and microbial fermentation takes place. The beneficial bacterial and fungal communities in the finished product add to the depth of flavor and health benefits.
Digestive Tonic and Health Elixir
Pu-erh tea is touted as an elixir of health. In recent years, as people are beginning to explore more natural remedies, it seems to be making a comeback. Traditionally, pu-erh was served with fatty foods to aid digestion. Current research proves the validity of these claims.
Studies of the metabolic effects of pu-erh tea consumption prove it has significant weight loss benefits, reduces blood lipid levels, and helps to regulate bad cholesterol. Researchers have also discovered that consumption of pu-erh tea helps regulate blood sugar spikes.
A Natural Beauty Booster
Keeping your organs and digestion healthy is the key to looking and feeling better! After all, our bodies function as a whole, not as individual parts. But a little help on the outside never hurt! Pu-erh tea is not only great for internal health but can also be used externally for the skin.
The natural fermentation qualities make it an excellent toner. Its microbial properties also introduce beneficial enzymes to the skin and teeth. So, once you've resteeped your leaves and enjoyed their flavor, try using a subsequent steep on a cotton puff and generously applying to the skin.
Energized and Relaxed? Not An Oxymoron!
It might seem odd that a beverage containing caffeine can aid in relaxation. Then again, pu-erh never wanted to fit in with the other guys! Caffeine in pu-erh makes it an excellent choice for a morning mug or an afternoon pick-me-up.
Yet, despite the energizing effect, you may feel noticeably calm. This is due to the GABA content of the brew. GABA is a natural tranquilizer that soothes the nervous system. It reduces neuron activity (literally "the nerves") and pacifies the mind. These qualities make pu-erh tea a welcome beverage choice for those prone to anxiety. Everyone can benefit from a little jitter-free sippin'!
A Full-Bodied Brew
Does pu-erh sound like a tea you'd like to add to your daily routine? It has tons of benefits, and the flavor is sublime! The liquor brews to a deep reddish brown, darker than black tea.
Pu-erh is often confused for black tea but is a different category altogether. Its flavor and scent are rich and pungent, woody and earthy. Some have a natural sweetness, similar to dried dates. Those who appreciate a nice bourbon or bitter dark chocolate enjoy the depth of flavor.
Pu-erh tea comes loose or packed into cakes. Modern twists even offer delicious flavors like caramel or chai. All pu-erh will contain the complexity and microbial activity that made it famous. Enjoy for taste, health, and beauty benefits. Everything old is new again! Happy brewing!