I first encountered pu-erh tea (and many other fabulous teas) through friend and fellow acupuncturist Christina Bird Ward. Pu-erh is no ordinary tea. Its color, taste, and feel are completely different from any other tea I've tried. While I drink many different teas throughout the day (more on that to come I'm sure), having a nice cup of pu erh has been one of my favorites of late. Maybe its because I drink it in the afternoon, letting my body know that I've made it through half the day. Its strong earthy aroma and taste give my body and mind a little afternoon wake up call. What ever the reason, taking 5 mins out of the day to enjoy this cup of tea has been a nice 2014 ritual that I hope to stick with.
The best time to drink pu erh is about an hour after either breakfast or lunch (because of the caffeine content, drinking after dinner might keep some people up). Pu erh helps in aiding digestion and promoting metabolism, especially after heavy, greasy meals.
Pu-erh tea (pronounced POO-air) is the most oxidized form of tea, which means its aged for long periods of time. What makes Pu-erh so unique is that, unlike other teas which can stale over time, pu-erh mellows and improves just like a fine wine. Some pu-erh teas can be aged for over 50 years and can sell for many thousands of dollars in specialty tea stores.
Its the aging process that gives Pu-erh it's distinct flavor. After the leaves are picked, they are made into a sun-dried base tea called maocha and then fermented. After fermentation, the leaves are aged and then packed into bricks or cakes.
Pu-Erh is known for is earthy, sometimes musty, aroma and rich, smooth taste. The color of the tea can vary from golden to reddish hue and even a coffee-black.
Health Benefits of Pu-Erh
While there is little data about the health benefits of tea in humans (most research is on laboratory animals), many scientist to agree that drinking tea, from green to black to herbal, can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Its best to enjoy your tea alone with out the addition of sugars or milk. Research has shown that proteins found in milk called caseins can neutralizes the health benefits of tea.
Pu-erh naturally contains flavonoids and catechins, compounds believed to have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, which over time, can cause damage in the body. Since pu-erh has been fully oxidized, it has less of an antioxidant content than green tea but it is still credited with many health benefits.